See Change Coordinator, Barbara Brennan
“In this changing landscape we are being forced to re-evaluate everything in our lives in a way that we may not have done ever before, and certainly not as quickly as we are having to now.
Having lived with wellness for so many years now, I have not become complacent about my history of mental ill health – because the memory of the darkest points in my life keep me constantly reaching to stay well.
Regardless of any of our histories, now is the time that we all need to be mindful of our mental health. This is a time where we need to have more compassion and kindness and be more open to the idea that others are struggling in ways we can’t even comprehend.
People who may have never experienced panic attacks or anxiety, depression or sleeplessness, and many more challenging emotions and difficulties, will be going through these experiences in the coming months due to the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in.
I am grateful at this moment in time to have already experienced some of the darkest places that exist. I am lucky that I have already had the most difficult challenges in my life having overcome a decade and a half of severe and enduring mental illness and being a suicide survivor. I know those experiences will help me to support others and guide them in ways that they don’t even know they need yet.
I am grateful that I have been made strong by the most difficult times in my life. I have a deep resilience that was forged at a time when I gave up on my life as it was. I have learnt coping skills that I would never have acquired had I not been through the mental health challenges that I have experienced. I am not alone in this. So many people across our country have experienced mental health challenges – and overcome them.
Anyone who has faced mental health difficulties now has have an opportunity to shine brightly as they share their resilience, the tools they have learned, and find that strength in themselves that they hadn’t realised was there.
Compassion & Self-care
Now is not a time for judgement or harsh words. It is not a time to look on the things we do not have. Now is the time to show our true humanity, spread love, support each other, and be innovative in how we find ways around issues like isolation, loneliness and fear.
There are many things that we know we should do that are of benefit to us. We hear all the time that we should look after ourselves by way of meditating, exercise, good nutrition, better sleep, hobbies and more besides. Life has become so fast paced that for many of us we have not been able to give ourselves the time and freedom to do these things. Now more than ever we need to learn real self-care and practice it daily.
This is not a luxury. It is not selfish. If anything, is paramount to our survival and long term well-being.
We don’t know yet where all of this is going. We have no control over that. What we do have control over is where we allow our attention go and what we choose to focus on. By reminding ourselves of the most important things in our lives – the people we love and the simple things in life – and by finding new ways to connect, we will help each other through these strange times. By making sure that we nurture ourselves and give ourselves the time and space every day to look after every aspect of our well-being we are giving ourselves a chance to not only survive this, but to thrive in spite of it.
As part of the work that I do with See Change, it is my privilege to get people talking about their mental health. Now is not a time for loneliness. Now is not the time to suffer in silence. Now is our chance to really change society and end stigma by putting our mental health first on the agenda in the midst of this global crisis.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and in need of some support, don’t forget that there are some great services available to you. Don’t wait, lift the phone.”