Since about 2017 or so, ‘Mental health’ has been circulating all over the media and television. We seemed to have a solid two years of a global mental health epidemic; however, I couldn’t help thinking that the focus was mainly on the cause of using social media when that’s not actually the case for everyone or the causes of it. I don’t know, but I just had the sense that all of a sudden, something that I knew I was personally suffering with but in denial about made it ten times harder for myself and a huge group of others worldwide to want to voice their own experiences. It had become a trend on social media to have or talk about mental health and yes, there were some great campaigns, but at the same time, the idea of it had at times been taken completely out of context to group and associate people with mental health stigmas.
First of all, I want to stress the fact that I’m not by any means a certified mental health expert through “higher educational” standards or professional occupation. However, I have gained and lived through the university of life, and I’ve had my own personal battles with mental health, helping others overcome their mental struggles, as well as completing a CBT Diploma (for my own personal and professional benefit). I am a very credited and equipped candidate to freely talk and advise on the subject.
Let’s make this clear. Believe it or not, you have mental health; we all do, and we’re all living with it. How we determine the spectrum of healthiness and our mental state is down to our day to day engagements, relationships, emotions and beliefs. Just like physical health, you can be deemed fit, average or below average, meaning you’ve got a lot of work and climbing to do on that spectrum, more so than someone who’s already at the fit or above average level. Their goal would be focusing on maintaining and sustaining their current fitness more than trying to get to an average level. It’s all about that SPECTRUM.
Maybe you’re reading this and have experienced a lower level on the spectrum of mental health? Or suddenly been affected by some of the signs and symptoms that your mental state could be decreasing, or maybe you’re completely clueless to the whole thing but want to get a better understanding?
I hope the images above will give you a better understanding of what ‘Mental health’ actually is, and if you’re going through an injured or ill level of mental health, remember you’re not alone and let me remind you that it’s not a devaluation of the mind or a curse. See it as a blessing, if anything, as a battle and a test that gives you a reason to start a journey of renewing the mind. Once the mind is renewed, the body and everything else will fall into place. TRUST ME,
My Personal Experience
I used to be an athlete, training 4-5 days a week when I was younger. I won 100m sprints, knew how to swim, played hockey, netball and very occasionally, tennis (I looked like Serena Williams in my all whites but unfortunately, nowhere near the same level of play). My point is, physically, my fitness levels were above average from a young age. I was confident, sociable, a drama and art student with huge ambitions.I wanted to save the world from all evil and help deprived children who had experienced trauma, rejection and abuse, things that I’d had a negative experience with and wanted to prevent others from having similar or worse. My mental health and state looked fine, at the healthy spectrum with occasional reacting, but no one would have associated me with any mental health stigma or issues.
I began to lose track of who I was. My morals, standards and my outward state soon began to decrease in healthiness; firstly, I had trouble sleeping during my teenage years and to be honest, I’d always bottled in so much emotional turmoil from the age of three, that It was bound to come out in my late teens and early twenties. And that’s exactly what happened. I started drinking alcohol, no longer for fun but stress management, but I hated the headaches. So, I experimented with weed, which at the time felt like the perfect cure for all the alienated feelings.
People around me thought I was just ‘having fun, relaxing, but subconsciously, I knew I was trying to escape; I just didn’t know what from. Insomnia started, then emotional states I couldn’t control, speak about or act on, especially my anger. My level of fitness started to deteriorate (even though I still looked like a toned African Goddess). I had no stamina, wasn’t as fast as I used to be, and then out of the blue, I’m told I have asthma! I started breaking out and having permanent spots; they called it ACNE. Hormonal imbalance and fertility issues they called it, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) overly stressed, frustrated, misunderstood alienated; they said I was depressed.
I could go on and on, but this blog post could turn into a book! But I’ll cut to the current stage and maybe as time goes on, I’ll share more detail of the highs and lows, triggers and disturbances my mind endured.
Where am I now with all this, you ask? Yes, I still have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS); yes, I still get angry and frustrated (who doesn’t, right? It’s a human feeling), but I’m back in control, and that’s the keyword. I feel I have my body back working in sync with my mind (ok, not all the time but for the majority), and my mood swings are beyond manageable.
I have boundaries in place, coping mechanisms, a healthier lifestyle that covers my mental and physical health, no smoking, celibacy (till marriage obviously), embracing a social life with supportive friends that I’ve opened up to about my past downfalls and areas of my life I need help with. I have my goals set in place and my mind developing to be and stay ambitious with calculated actions that aren’t stressful, a workload that’s manageable, my own space to express and create. Most of all, my faith and my walk with God.
I’ll be honest, that’s who and what really saved me. Realising that the way he made me formed me, named me and has given me so many gifts and talents that can’t be wasted by being caught up with the worldly deception of temporary forevers, escapism and short satisfactions. That way of living is false, and he showed me the truth, a new way of living in Christ that brings PURPOSE, bigger, greater than life, money and worldly success. This new-found strength to keep going but on a new path, to pick myself back up as that ambitious young Sierra Leonean princess and start again in faith with the renewal of my mind.