It’s wellbeing month at Teva, a time to focus on and remind ourselves of activities we can do to take care of our mental health. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit about sleep, its importance, and how it contributes to mental wellbeing.
In order to do that I want to share a bit of my story. I find that often you get a lot of tips on how to manage yourself, your mental health and “feel better”, but a lot of it can feel theoretical or esoteric. You may ask yourself “how does that apply to me”?! My hope is that sharing my story makes this more relatable, and gives more context as to why sleep is important for us.
I was recently speaking with a friend who is on sick leave from her job. She’s been through a lot in her personal life and finally her doctor decided she needed to take time off. When we met, she started asking me questions about my burnouts. I could sense she was curious and trying to understand more, perhaps trying to decide if she herself was burned out. And in this conversation several times she said to me “yeah but you were never on sick leave, right”? Or “yes but you never reached the stage where you couldn’t get out of bed, right”? And then it occurred to me: she was trying to check if I’d had a “real burnout”, where real burnout equated with an extreme condition in which you literally can’t get out of bed any more and have to take sick leave.
It was recently world mental health day, and I started thinking about how much my life has changed and how I got to where I am today. I’m so happy that currently I experience a lot less anxiety, depression and general low moods. I’m also happy that I no longer work in a toxic environment and actually feel safe in my job, something that hugely contributes to overall good mental health. But this didn’t happen by accident or overnight. For me the thing that has significantly impacted my mental health is coaching, and I wanted to share why.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on a panel at work called “Overcome stress and beat burnout” along with 3 other colleagues who are passionate about this topic. We spoke a lot about what you as an individual can do to look after yourself and there were a lot of great tips. We spoke about boundaries, expectations of yourself, and having honest conversations with your colleagues. But someone also asked “what can the employer do for us?”, and I’ve been thinking about this ever since.
I’m currently on holiday enjoying the beautiful European summer, and it wouldn’t be a proper holiday unless I was using the time to reflect on life and the past 6-7 months of this year. Whilst we were chatting, a friend of mine pointed out to me that I’ve been stressed at work now for pretty much the better part of the year which I realized was true. Following that, I also realized that although I’ve been stressed it’s not affecting me the same as it used to and suddenly it dawned on me: my relationship to stress and my mental health has changed completely.
It’s been a while since I’ve been active on That’s Mental, whether over here on the blog or on my Youtube channel, so I thought it was time to share an honest update and writing felt like the most natural thing to do. So if you’re in the mood for a bit of a natter, read on below. This isn’t about me feeling sorry for myself or complaining, this is about being honest about my mental health which I believe is important.
I can remember dealing with mental health issues whilst I was studying at University as I suffered chronic anxiety, and didn’t know how to manage or cope with it. Some days it was a success If I got out of bed and that’s all I did that day. I knew I couldn’t carry on living like this and that’s when I realised I needed help, which I discussed with my family and sought professional help from a psychologist privately.
Disclaimer: this may read like a story, but it is a real life account by someone. Please note that this story may be difficult to read if you are a mum, if you are pregnant, or if you want to be a mum in the future.
Please do not read if you are afraid this will negatively impact your mental health – and take the necessary precautions.
The original of this post was written in French and you can find it here.
Who are you, and what made you want to share your story?
My name is Aurélie, I am the mother of three children, and I work in childcare. After the birth of my first son, I experienced the worst time of my life. I wanted to share my experience because while baby blues and postpartum depression are somewhat well known, they are still relatively taboo in our society.
On the other hand, postpartum psychosis is barely talked about at all if not completely unknown for most people. And yet, a number of young mothers go through this experience or through depression, while their friends and family aren’t able to understand or identify what’s happening to them.
Attention! Ce texte peut paraître invraisemblable mais il s’agit réellement d’une histoire vécue par quelqu’un.
Il se peut que ce texte soit difficile à lire si vous êtes maman, enceinte ou souhaitez avoir des enfants. Si vous pensez que ce text peut vous troubler, ne le lisez pas ou alors prenez les précautions nécessaires en le lisant avec quelqu’un.
Qui es-tu et pourquoi la volonté de partager ton histoire?
Je m’appelle Aurélie, je suis maman de 3 enfants et éducatrice. Après la naissance de mon premier fils, j’ai connu la pire tempête de ma vie. J’avais envie de relater mon expérience car, si le baby blues lui, est bien expliqué par le monde médical, le sujet de la dépression post-partum reste encore tabou dans notre société.
La psychose post-partum quant à elle, est carrément inconnue pour la plupart d’entre nous. Pourtant, un nombre non négligeable de mamans connaissent un épisode dépressif après la naissance d’un enfant et leur entourage n’est pas toujours capable de le déceler ni de comprendre ce que cette maman peut traverser.
Who are you, and why did you decide to share your story?
I am a woman in my mid-thirties and I work in the humanitarian sector. During a recent long-term field assignment, I experienced what I later discovered to be burnout. At the time I had little knowledge about this mental health issue, so for a long time I simply ignored the signals my mind and my body were sending me.
By sharing my experience, I’d like to shed light on burnout, its symptoms and its consequences. In my sector there is still a lot of stigma around it, so I think that reading about others’ stories may be of help to those going through (or suspecting they are going through) the same experience.
When was the first time you became aware you were suffering from a mental health/wellness issue?
I have always been quite anxious as far as I can remember but that particular form, the phobia of committing impulsive acts, first revealed itself about 10 years ago. I was in my kitchen preparing dinner with my husband and all of a sudden, the thought hit me “what if I killed my husband”. I didn’t want to, absolutely not, but all of sudden I was attacked by intrusive thoughts, all going around the theme of “what if I became crazy”, “what if suddenly hit him with a knife”.
Trigger warning! This poem may be difficult to read if you know someone who has committed suicide, if you yourself have had suicidal thoughts, or if the topic of suicide is difficult for you whatever the reason may be. Please do not read if you don’t feel ready to do so.
If you want to read make sure you feel in a good place with your mental health, perhaps read it with a friend or do whatever you need so as to not feel triggered. Please also check local resources (and on this website) to support you with your mental health.
While I’ve often talked about the negative circumstances you can encounter in the workplace and how these contribute to mental health problems, it’s also important to talk about the positive experiences to counterbalance that. After all it’s not all doom and gloom and there are plenty of experiences to show there is hope when it comes to finding a workplace that is good for your mental health.
This blog post is part of a series on men’s mental health for Movember. In this series, different men give their perspective on male mental health. What does it mean to deal with mental health as a man?
In certain cases as with the interview below, people have had the courage to reveal their identity. This is both brave and vulnerable, congratulations to them!
This guest blog post is written by Ahmad Jooma. I asked Ahmad to contribute his story around mental health, as a man and co-host of the podcast Authentic Dating Series. The below is Ahmad’s interpretation of that, and personal story. For him, shame was linked to his ability to fully show up as a man.
Imagine the consequences of that for mental health! Mental health doesn’t have to be about a burnout or a full mental breakdown, it can also be tied to your self-confidence and your ability to be open with others.