Its Mental health awareness week 2016 and the theme is relationships.
This blog of mine is all about relationships. The one I have with the people in my life, the one I have with my own mental health and the one I have with my families mental illness. So many relationships going on, in fact, that it’s easy to see how this whole life thing can feel complicated sometimes.
I want to focus, I think, on the relationships that are good for us. That might seem logical but there are many of us as adults that haven’t yet figured out its the positive relationships that we should invest our time in. Indeed I meet many adults that haven’t learnt the difference between the good and the bad ones.
So, to be clear, let’s think about those good relationships; the ones that have you feeling the best you can, the ones that don’t need hard work all the time, the ones that generally make any situation feel better. These are the relationships that we all need in our lives and something that goes along way in protecting and enhancing our mental health.
As kids we don’t know this yet. We can be confused about what a good one looks like, especially when they can shift so often in childhood.
My daughter admitted to me this evening that she’s struggling with a key relationship at the moment. We’ve spotted it on the turn but she hasn’t been ready to tell us until now. She’s going through that first heartbreak so many girls experience and its left her feeling confused and sad. The worst of it has not been the friendship shift itself (she’s 9 and its ‘normal’) but the holding of such a sadness and confusion inside her head. We’ve been seeing tantrums and tears of a high order recently, she’s seemed stressed and distracted and now it makes sense. But its reminded me of what I say so often at work; that we really must talk about our worries, share them or express them. My daughter and I chatted about the cloud of worry in her head when such a problem occurs and how if she doesn’t share it this cloud takes up more and more room and stops her from other things (in her words “stopped me doing my best learning”). It starts to feel similar to the sensory overload I hear described so often as a symptom of depression.
So, whilst my daughter navigates this new stage in her world of relationships, I see the importance of needing a collective of relationships that offer us support and kindness. I don’t think its all that’s needed to combat mental illness (I’m not that niave) but I’m sure it goes along way. I know, as the ‘coper’ in my family something I always had and was able to create was varied positive relationships. I sought them out and they definitely formed the base of my resilience.
In this week of mental health awareness and in particular relationships, I feel thankful for my key people, I vow to give them the time they deserve, knowing that I will reap the rewards of this when I’m next having a bad day. I hope I pass on to my children the importance of positive relationships, that they grow to recognise the good from the bad, and have the skills to harness them. This I’m sure will be a tool in their resilience for life.