So I've found the past couple of months hard. I mean, REALLY hard.
On top of everything that is going on with the world and the necessary changes in life, working from home, school at home, 5 of us including a rampaging toddler in an 80 square metre space for weeks on end...as well as all of that depression and its cousin anxiety have become constant companions once more.
Mental health, mental wellbeing, mental wellness, whatever you want to call it it's important, and when things are hard mentally, it makes an already challenging situation that much more difficult.
That isn't everyone's experience. And I'm not aggrieved by the fact that some have found the past months refreshing and even loved the experience. That would be my wish for us all.
That simply hasn't been my experience.
And that's something that I've found really important. Not to judge my experience based on anyone else's. My set of circumstances are unique, even compared to my wife who lives in the same house and shares many of the same challenges.
As soon as we start to compare ourselves with others we start to put labels on others or ourselves that are unhelpful. We start to separate life into dualistic categories. Well and unwell. Healthy and sick. Good and bad. Doing okay and failing at life.
But these labels don't help us. In fact, they deceive us. They make us believe that others have it all together when they don't. They make us believe that to admit any fragility is to have totally and utterly failed. They divide the world into two groups of people with the aim of doing what we can to not let ourselves be like "them".
But the reality is that no one is completely well or completely unwell. We are all on a continuum. We can do things to improve our health. But if the only categories we have are well or unwell, we cling onto "well" as long as we can, while spending all our effort on not being in the "unwell" box. A label that we think denotes failure, rejection, a loss of identity.
As Juliagrace says "there's so many opportunities for beautiful therapeutic behaviour...to take time and to actually care for ourselves and the environment and the others around us...we're missing all those opportunities by waving our arms in the air going 'I'm fine'."
So yes, these past weeks have been a challenge. Yes I would have prefered to have not faced depression and anxiety while trying to work from home and home school kids and stop my toddler from destroying the house (or himself).
But they have been part of my experience.
So I've had to find ways to manage them as best I can with whatever support is available. I'm talking to colleagues, friends and family about things. I'm going for daily walks. Tomorrow I'm talking to the doctor about whether my medication needs adjusting. And with the easing of restrictions I am relishing the chance to engage with nature again in new/old ways. Finding ways to bring a bit of heaven Down to Earth in my own life.
But admitting my struggles doesn't make me suddenly fall into a category of "unwell". It doesn't make me "less than others". It doesn't mark failure. It doesn't declare to the world "I'm not good enough", no matter what my brain tells me!
It just makes me human.
And I'm okay with that.
For more discussion around mental wellness check out Episode 5 with Juliagrace.