When you aren’t quite ‘you’

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I’m going to be totally honest. Lately, I have not been myself. I have been feeling quite empty. Not exactly sad, but not exactly happy either. Just a frustrating emptiness.

This feeling may be familiar to some of you. It can result in an inability to do things; just doing your normal routine can suddenly be so much harder. You no longer have any motivation but just feel a bit low. A bit empty.

Mental health is not just about whether or not you have a diagnosed condition. It’s about understanding your own health and wellbeing; the ups, the downs and what to do to maintain your state of wellbeing. Mental health is something we all have. There will be days when it is good, and days when it isn’t.

When people talk about mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, they often think it is purely about ‘being sad’. Similarly, they characterise OCD as ‘just being obsessively tidy’ or bipolar as being ‘up and down’. They are all so much more than that. Even without a diagnosis or label, you may well have periods of time where you just aren’t well. You can’t really put your finger on what it is exactly, but you just aren’t quite you.

The key to moving forward is understanding how best to look after yourself. If you had the flu, you’d know exactly what to do; you’d rest, take medicine, call in sick, eat well and look after yourself until you were better. If you have a period of mental ill health, often you don’t do any of these things. You might just try and carry on and ignore it, hoping it will go away. You might even beat yourself up over it, feeling guilty that you feel this way when there are so many people in the world worse off than you, or with ‘real reasons’ to be struggling. However you would never say this about physical health; you would never tell someone not to rest because ‘heaving flu isn’t as bad as some other disease’. This would be absurd! Regardless of their ill health, you would tell them to rest and look after themselves, and the exact same is true of mental health.

If you have a period of mental ill health, look after yourself. It is absolutely not something to feel guilty about and it is not less worthy than other people’s problems. This isn’t being selfish, this is simply you doing what is best for you to get yourself better.

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