Aged 18, I made a committed decision to myself that I would live life to the full, grasp interesting opportunities and have as much fun as possible. As a result, I’ve had an extremely successful life (by my measure of success) and my intention is to continue with this fun-filled strategy until clog-popping happens, whatever age that is 🙂
So why write this post? Today is World Mental Health Day and I’ve attached a couple of pics of me taken during a period when life wasn’t going so well and I was mentally unstable and unwell. No, I hadn’t had a punch-up with Mike Tyson, I didn’t need to. I was doing a grand job, beating myself up because I felt as if I had no purpose in life, that there was no point in me being on the planet.
I abandoned all the behaviours that had/have kept me healthy over the decades and I descended into a pit of panic, sadness, anxiety and depression. I also felt ashamed of myself because I had so much (materially, experientially and some great relationships) and yet I didn’t have what we all yearn for and that’s peace of mind. A horrible, terrifying period of my life.
The heart of the problem lay in the fact that I couldn’t ask for help because I didn’t know how to. I’d spent most of my life giving to and looking after others, and here I was, needing help but not only incapable of asking, but too paranoid to ask – I didn’t trust anyone. I felt as if I was dying, and I was. I’m so glad that the mental stress finally got to my body and ‘it’ told the world how I was really feeling inside.
Until that point, asking for help felt as if I was failing, that I ought to be able to cope myself, so I did what I’d always done, pretended I was fine. Now, I ask for help whenever I need it. I realise that in sharing my vulnerability and human ‘short-comings’, I can give others the opportunity to give to me, and what a gift that is. Receiving is as important a part of the human life-cycle as giving is, and we all need to do both. I didn’t even know how to receive a compliment graciously, but I’m getting much better at it. When next you see me, you can tell me how well I look and I will be truly grateful to you. Grateful for the reminder of how far I’ve come, the priceless insights I’ve gained and how much better my life is as a result of learning to ask for help and receive it graciously.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I feel really strong again. Strong enough for a punch-up with Mike Tyson? Are you insane?!
No, not any more. I was, because not asking for help is insane. Now I’m strong enough to be vulnerable and I know how and who to ask for help. Are you? Do you?
PS As I no longer feel shame in asking for help these days….please help me to help others. Please share this post with friends and family and tell them about me. If they need hope/support/clarity/confidence, you can direct them to Brain Surgery without the Blood :)