Moms and Mental health!
Hope all of you had a wonderful Mothers' Day on May 13th! May also happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month!!
As part of my work, I often meet women and specially Moms, who have sometimes had to put their personal joys on the back burner. We have had to prioritize our kids and families first and over time forgotten to take care of our own personal needs. Don't get me wrong, kids are a blessing but running a home with them is a lot of mental and physical work too. It's very hard to find time for ourselves unless you have a lot of encouraging positive support, a village really.
A lot of us have drifted away from extended family and the communities, we grew up in and find ourselves isolated, alone and frustrated. We need to be a loving, kind and non-judgmental support for each other, in this new reality with the internet, social media and so-called "smart-phones", to raise happy and healthy kids.
Taking time out to pursue personal joys is very vital to our happiness. In fact, we can find our true joys, true selves really in getting lost in our favorite activities. So don't take your hobbies and dreams lightly, it represents YOU. And when we ignore this aspect of our life is when we feel lost and stuck. We are the only ones who can help ourselves!
If we ignore our needs, it can sometimes lead to persistent sadness, overwhelm and depression. I understand it because I have been there. I have also observed it in my own Mom, close family, friends and other women I meet. While some of us might need medications, some can thrive with long-term loving support, no two people are the same.
I also would like to underline mental health issues in boys and men. Traditionally, they are supposed to be the "tough" gender and are not encouraged to speak up about their feelings till it becomes a major problem. I have seen my brother not seeking out help when he first started experiencing signs of schizophrenia. IF there had been more awareness and support about the issue, he and our family wouldn't have had to suffer as much for as long.
May also happens to be my daughter's birthday. I am very blessed to have a fearless and kind soul as my daughter but I have had to show her how. I believe her home and family are her fertile soil, where she can bloom the best way she can. She also tends to get anxious from time to time, usually around school work or social/'people' issues. And I have had to come up with a plan to tackle it with discussions, deep breathing, and essential oils. She heads to high school in the coming academic year and then on to other adventures so I will have keep an eye out for a long time.
And I won't be able to do it if I don't take care of my physical, mental and emotional needs first.
Mental health issues can sneak up on everyone and by current NAMI estimates, 1 in 4 are at risk. Even children are not spared given the current environment with social media and smart phones. Check out the suicide risk in teens: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/suicide-rates-teen-girls_us_59848b64e4b0cb15b1be13f4
I request you to look for the warning signs (https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs) for yourself and loved ones and please seek out help without hesitating or fear of judgement. Some of the signs are as simple as losing interest in previous joyful activities and/or skipping social events. A little attention can prevent a lot of heartache in the long run. As with everything, prevention is better than cure!
I hope you make everyday special like Mothers' Day by taking time out for yourselves to do activities that bring you joy, without guilt, self-doubt and external validation! It can be very simple things as walking, singing, gardening, cooking, needlepoint work, dancing, anything creative that makes YOUR heart fill up with joy.
How can you can't take care of others if you can't take care of yourself first?
Just like we go for physical health check ups, just take a moment to evaluate yourself and your family members for emotional and mental health, if it is not being done by your doctors. We don't hesitate to seek help if get a deep cut or any other physically visible problem, on the same lines, seek out help if you suspect any emotional problems. Mental health issues are an illness, not a weakness! (https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/May-2017/How-You-Can-Stop-Mental-Illness-Stigma)