I’ve spent the past week with a very noisy head …
The Cycle Against Suicide had come to town, the kids and I hosted two great lads taking part in it, and I hung around with the littlest after dropping them back to their starting point for the day to listen to the talks… I watched 18 year old Aisling Carthy talk about her experience with mental health challenges, her Dad’s suicide, her own experience with counselling…
Questions started spinning around my head:
Why are there feelings of guilt and shame around not feeling ok?
Why is there a need for the cycle’s message “It’s ok not to feel ok” (though I’d prefer “It’s normal not to feel ok”)?
Why does there need to be a campaign to encourage people to seek help and not suffer in silence?
And it struck me: From birth (and really before that) we communicate when something feels off. Slowly and surely though, we are being shown not to. We are conditioned to “have to be ok”. Not for ourselves, for others. We receive messages through multiple channels that anything other than feeling ok (at the least) is odd, we need to suck it up and power through – for our parents, for our teachers, for our boss, for our kids. No mention of our own needs. They quickly get the “selfish” label.
The thing is though, looking after our own mental health is not self-indulgent. Far from it. We live in networks. Mental health, our own and other’s, affects everyone. I’ve hinted on it in my “Mum Guilt” post, Aisling’s words and other speakers’ from the tour are testament to it, as well as the experience of volunteers and cyclists involved in the Cycle Against Suicide.
So to #breakthecycle of conditioning (and to remind myself), I have put together some thoughts on modelling and teaching mental self-care and emotional health in the family : “10 Easy Steps to Promote Mental Wellbeing in the Family“.