How many of you can say that they always honestly answer that basic question – how are you? The usual response people give is “fine” or “good.” But are you really being honest when you say that? Or are you just telling the other person what they want to hear so as to avoid awkward conversation?
May 1-7 is Mental Health Awareness Week. Having known many people who have experienced mental health issues throughout their lives, I feel it is important that we break the stigma around talking about these issues. I’m happy to say that my employer is on board with this initiative as well. For the second year in a row, we’ve partnered with Not Myself Today as a means of getting the communication going here in the workplace. Being an insurance and health care organization, particularly one with nearly a thousand employees here at our head office, it’s important that we be open and honest about mental health. It’s okay to not be okay.
Being a Reiki Master, I understand the importance of taking care of oneself, of being mindful of how you feel and when you are feeling unaligned. Yet despite this, I still have the same challenges. Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with my job. The work I do has not changed. It has not gotten more complex or demanding; yet I’ve struggled with it. I’ve realized that it’s a mental block that is in place currently. My moods have been shifting, and I’ve felt down and with no drive. I’ve lost some of the passion that I had. I have found little interest in what I’m doing, and I feel it’s beginning to show. It reached a high point a few weeks ago when I took two mental health days to stay at home and just get away from it all. When I returned to work on the following day, I had a mini panic attack at my desk at 9:30AM… not even 2-hours back to the office.
While mental health days are not always well-viewed in the workplace, I recognized that I needed them. I needed to take a step back, reassess and find a way forward for my own well-being. But those two days were not enough. As part of my realignment process, I decided to take a couple more days this past week, but this time it was scheduled vacation time. I headed off to do a 2-day silent retreat by myself at a site nearby called La Solitude. My two days did me a lot of good. I spent the two days walking through the woods, looking inward and trying to get back on track mentally. No phone, no internet, no TV, no books. Just me and my thoughts. Scary, right?
This is an on-going challenge. One that I will need to be diligent with and continue working towards finding the right balance for myself. The couple of days of solitude did me worlds of good, but having now been back at the office for half a day… I can already feel some of the old mental state trying to creep it’s way back in. And that’s okay. I just have to be able to recognize it and talk about it. It’s okay to not not be yourself. But you need to ensure that you don’t lose yourself down that spiral either. I’ve identified a few things that will help me on my journey. I won’t list them here since they are the right tools for me, but not necessarily you.
Any of you reading this now, whether you feel that you truly are good or okay, or whether you’re feeling down, sad, grumpy, lonely, numb, etc… do some soul searching. Listen to that little voice inside of you and find ways to turn things around. Sometimes all it takes is to talk to someone. Or find that one tiny glimmer of light/happiness/joy in your life. It might be the smile of a child, the nuzzle of a pet, a thank you someone says when you hold the door open. No matter what is going on in your life, there is some good. It may not always be easy to see, but it’s there. When you find it, latch on it it and nurture it. Help it grow and spread it to others. Maybe the act of holding the door for that person will be the one tiny glimmer of light in someone else’s life today. Think about all of the good you can do when we stop focusing on ourselves and spread a little light in the world.
My name is Chris, and I am not myself today. And that’s okay.