A Personal Reflection on World Mental Health Day by Meghann Scully
It’s World Mental Health Day and a time for reflection on ourselves and others around us. Everyone struggles with his and her own conscience. My main challenge over the years has been my anxiety and fear of the unknown stemming from the loss of my brother and father but something that can appear at any point of time – even at something that has no relevance to my past – my irrational fears.
Last week I featured in a magazine and my outfit choice was judged. It seemed I didn’t fit into the norm or the style of the other ladies on the night. And while, it didn’t affect me directly, it made me think about being a woman in a society where we are judged solely on our appearance. I wasn’t going out of my way to be different but I went with something that was affordable and I felt matched my quirky sense of style and personality.
But then just this week I won best dressed at an event. So there I was on stage under the bright lights being applauded for my outfit choice, an outfit I felt was a little different and again matched who I am.
Both occasions made me realise that so many judge me for my appearance, what I am wearing and what I am doing rather than who I am inside. But then again, that is the appearance I have chosen to display. Instagram is all about photos so anyone looking at mine would think I have a great lifestyle. I’m always dressed up, enjoying a night out and on adventures. And I guess that’s the life I want perceived.
Don’t get me wrong, my favourite part of a night out is getting ready, doing my hair and make-up, getting the glad rags on – maybe it’s symbolic – I’m changing my outer appearance to almost disguise my inner appearance.
But there is those moments in life – when sometimes I need to take a step back, take a break and relax. I am quite blessed that in my current job – I have the time during the week to unwind, read, write and chill out. It’s been a saviour in some sense. But on other occasions I get pulled back in. My own fears and anxiety come to the fore. The place where I am I the biggest critic to myself.
I was at an event recently and the next day someone said how much craic they had in my company and straight away I thought I must have made a fool of myself for them to find comedic value in my ways. I then sat with this notion and built a wall of anxiety around myself, almost doubting myself, who I am and how I interact. I begin to rethink scenarios that had happened and built on them – adding ‘what ifs’ to them and almost expecting the worst.
My anxiety has a way of snowballing – whereby I foresee the worst happening. I envisage myself in a situation that hasn’t even happened and that probably won’t even happen. In fact it never does but my mind has this way of building itself up to a point where I cannot breathe. I fear this fictitious future and that fear itself ties me down.
Each and every one of us has a different reason for our anxiety. Mine, as mentioned, stems from my younger years where I struggled to deal with the loss of my immediate family members. The pain of losing them and then the fear of the unknown has stuck with me. It has a way of peering its ugly head from time to time. Usually after I’ve gone to a fun event or had a great time. And it is almost as though I feel guilty for having a fun time. Like I feel I should be wallowing in self pity.
And when I have a really good day or night out I feel I deserve to feel low – As though I need to punish myself. And I find it hard to decipher between the both. Even before I head on an adventure or a night out, I have this knot in my stomach that’s almost preventing me from fully experiencing what is around me.
When I feel low – I sometimes feel I deserve it yet I’ve no reasoning behind this. Or when I have a really fun time – I feel in the back of my head that I need to take a step back. I myself have created the lively, outgoing persona and then I quiver at the thoughts of showing people that it’s not all red carpets, ball gowns, glitz and glam. Some days it’s pjs, unbrushed hair and my bed as I wallow in self pity. But you know what that is okay too. Sometimes these quieter moments are needed.
But this is where my friends and family come into play – I can contact my nearest and dearest even if it is to explain my situation, maybe seek a laugh or just hear a familiar voice to almost distract me from my pain. Some days I sit with it, I look at old photos of Dad and Marcus and I ask them to sit with me.
Recently, I had a ‘bit of an episode’ and a good friend told me to stop being so hard on myself and why I was making a situation out of something that was nothing. And it made me think – why am I so hard on myself? Why I can’t I just accept the past and enjoy what’s in front of me? And why do I create an issue from thin air? It’s as though I want to create punishment for myself so I can almost accept this behaviour. When at the end of the day, I need to realise that I am okay, life is good and I need to just accept I am having a bad day but it can and will pass, I just need to be a little patient. Life hasn’t been very easy on me but I can still be easy on myself.
I wouldn’t change my life at all. Each day is a learning curve. The bad days are just an obstacle along this journey that can be overcome. They just need a little more time, patience and care.
*Feel free to get involved in our discussion on mental health. Several Clinic staff have written blogs today.