I thought I’d stick around for Mental Health Awareness Week because why the hell not, eh? We all have mental health, whether it’s good or bad – or somewhere in between, which is what mine mostly is. I’ve worked hard to
numb the pain face my problems head on and although I prefer to be open about my feelings I am by no means an authority on any of it. I’ve learnt my fair share along the way but every person is different and what works for me might not work for another and that’s the beauty of human nature I guess. We respond differently to different things.
Anyway: Kindness. Or specifically for the purposes of this post: Kindness to self. That can look like any number of things on any given day. Kindness to me one day might be giving myself permission to eat (an entire tube of) prawn cocktail Pringles in front of a Schitt’s Creek marathon. Or it can be recognising that my body could probably do with a vegetable for dinner.
It’s easy to slip into the narrative of self-care being all about bubble bath but to me it’s way more than that. Sometimes just simply saying no to something I don’t have the mental capacity for is enough. It can take so many different forms and it’s important you find what works for you.
When I’m seriously spinning out I find it very hard to eat or focus on anything besides what’s on my mind. I’m very distant and snappy, and not at all pleasant to be around. In those periods I do enjoy a good bubble bath but generally, writing things down helps me.
Unraveling the tangled strings of my thoughts really helps me make a plan and using my words is key. Even if it’s just a list in my journal.
Pampering, napping, nails, colouring in: these are all things I do for myself to feel better and to promote good mental health. Especially during these Pandemic times when so much is unknown and so many of the things we’ve always known have changed. It’s more important than ever to cut ourselves and others some slack.
The way we speak to ourselves is also vital and something I think about a lot. I wouldn’t speak to my arch nemesis the way I’ve spoken to myself over the years and it’s been an adventure trying to break the habit.
A good few years ago I took a stand up comedy course and perhaps predictably, all my material was about being fat. Self-deprecating, innit? I cringe now thinking about how mean I was, trying to make people laugh at me, giving them permission to find my perceived flaws as hilarious as I did.
That’s not me at all now and I can’t believe I took such cheap shots at myself and by default, other fat people. It’s hardly a shock my comedy career didn’t light the world on fire but my point is, I won’t talk about myself like that anymore. As the great Hannah Gadsby says in Nanette:
“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humour and I don’t want to do that anymore. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it come from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. If that means that my comedy career is over, then, so be it.”
That quote has followed me around for a while. I know I’m not from a minority group so it’s different but I find these words profoundly moving and inspiring.
She also said this:
“When somebody tells me to ‘stop being so sensitive’, you know what? | feel a little like a nose being lectured by a fart. I am not the problem.”
I mean fucking hell, OUCH.
So this is the concession I make for myself, to stop saying bad things about how I look, how capable I am. I slip sometimes but I always catch myself and make a mental note there’s a reason I no longer do it.