May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. For the entire month, NAMI supporters and mental health advocates are promoting awareness of mental health conditions and working together to live #stigmafree. Learn more at nami.org.
Do you ever feel like a failure? Or a fraud?
Or like you’re free-falling through the air, grasping for your loved ones and treasured belongings, and you can’t breathe?
I know I can’t be the only one.
Mental Health Awareness Month: You Have to Put Your Oxygen Mask On First
Maybe my anxiety comes in waves—or maybe this is simply normal life (?)—but it seems like I’ll experience a few relatively light, easy, and happy-go-lucky months and then, like clockwork, metaphorical shit will hit the fan and all the worries, negative thoughts, and feelings of overwhelm come crashing in on a turbulent high tide.
Right now I’m in a pretty good state, but the last week I’ve dealt with some negativity.
I’m sure part of it is due to others feeling stressed and overwhelmed at work (we’re like sponges and soak in others’ feelings, right?), but it’s also an accumulation of stagnancy in my life/career, feeling as if my child only wants me around so he can say “no, mommy!” and push me away (don’t worry, I know he loves me—this is simply part of raising an autonomous, mischievous toddler), and falling into that dreaded comparison trap when I see others succeeding while I tread the waters of balancing work, obligations, and doing what I love.
It’s not a great feeling.
The reassuring thing, however, is that I’m not the only one who feels like this. And I’ve got a community of supporters who bring me to my senses and surround me with love and encouragement.
This all brings me to an important point: we cannot take care of others when we neglect taking care of ourselves.
Sorry, we just can’t. We can’t help our loved ones breathe if we don’t put on our own oxygen mask first.
Those who’ve read my blog a while know that I enjoy tackling topics that are somewhat controversial or uncomfortable. I write to spread encouragement, self-love, and guilt-free self-care, but sometimes—most of the time—I’m writing because I personally need to hear those things!
I’m not perfect. I most certainly don’t have it all together. And I’m just learning and stumbling and figuring out this life day by day.
I deal with the guilt of taking time for myself and keeping up my hobbies all the dang time because I realize that my loved ones also struggle and have to pick up the slack when I’m not around.
But if I were to neglect my own care and devote my attention 100% to their wellbeing, would I be doing any of us a favor?
This isn’t me saying “screw you guys, I’m taking care of me!” or anything like that. It’s simply a reminder that self-care isn’t selfish and we must nourish our own wellbeing when others are counting on us.
One more time so it sinks in: self-care is not selfish. And if you’re struggling, reach out to a professional or a loved one.You have to put your oxygen mask on first #intomentalhealth #stigmafree @NAMIcommunicate Click To Tweet
[linking up for thinking out loud]
So tell me…
- How can you support mental health awareness in your own life?
- What do you do when you feel overwhelmed/anxious/negative?