Minding the mind....
In this week of mental health awareness, I felt like writing a little piece to share some of my thoughts and experience about this.
What we all see on the outside is not necessarily what is going on on the inside. We try to look our best, act confident and pretend all is well. Social media is aiding that: don't we all select the nicest pictures to post? Instead of the less flattering ones (that are as much part of us...).
Tell me: which of these 2 pictures would you pick for social media? Right, same for me ;)
The struggle of each of us inside is a different thing altogether. I'm sure everybody (mwah, I doubt if the likes of Trump do, but who knows ;) ) has days they doubt themselves, feel like a fraud, feel ugly or simply cannot find the energy to get through the day ahead. And that is bad enough without people around us making things worse by jumping to conclusions real fast, making judgements on fractions of information which with the "fake news" and "instant gratification culture" is becoming the norm rather than the exception it seems. And I don't even want to mention keyboard trolls and cyberbullying (oops just did!)
We can make it tough enough ourselves, without the "help" of the negative influences in the world that surrounds us. This mental awareness week is really important, but the whole year should be about mental awareness and (mental) care for the people around us. To simply ask people how they are, and listen to their answers is crucial. And by doing that it will be easier to say how you feel and to really be "OK not to be OK". Our mind is a curious thing. Apparently it's run by loads of chemicals and if they are a little off-balance, so are you. And if you are slightly differently wired than the majority of people, the world can seem like a baffling place at times. I am one of those differently wired people, and I would not be able to do what I do and how I do it without it. Most of the time I embrace my "weirdness" but it can be difficult at times as well.
I have no idea how most people see me, I am told I am a little loud, can seem a bit arrogant or aloof and appear quite self-assured. Perhaps some people even look up to me because of what I have done in endurance, and some have said they admire the fact I do my own thing and don't follow the beaten track. You might see nice pictures of me with my horses, follow my webinars where I am giving heaps of information or you see the image that is carefully created in my website of a confident smiling woman doing her own thing and not needing anybody else.
The reality however, is that I live the life I lead because that is the only way for me to live, I can just tolerate a limited amount of "the outside world", I can only cope with low impact sounds or lights, I need the horses calm my crazy merry-go-round head down and my mind works with blueprints. Gazillion of blueprints for every situation I encounter, and always busy making new ones or adapting old ones if they need updating. Less people around me means less stress, so this social distancing lark is nothing new for me! Life is quite normal within the abnormal.
It does not mean however that people that like to be alone (or are comfortable to be alone) do not get lonely. The last few years have been tough, and quite lonely at times. And my lifestyle was a recipe for burn out (a term I loathe but it might be close to how I have been feeling.) Pushing myself to "prove" myself in a new country, to earn some money because work in an office setting is no option. Training for many hours in new terrain and circumstances when I don't even enjoy riding horses anymore. But "I have to" because I have set these goals and I have to be fair to the horse to prepare it for my ambitions. Let's add some worries for loved ones that were struggling with much bigger mental health issues than I was and throw in a scoop of menopause and hormones and a body that is increasingly finding the demands on it a tad too much. Ah go on, for good measure some unresolved fatigue from moving house and yards twice in 14 months, and a good dollop of bad weather.
No wonder I was dreading a new season... how long were my body and mind going to cope with pushing myself like this? But I could not really take a step back. Can you imagine Covid for me felt like a breather? Time to take off the pressure, take stock of what I can and want. A lot of new challenges are fun, but the remnants of the mental strain remain and perhaps will be for another while to go. I'm taking each day as it comes for now.
So there you go, the real person behind the facade I and all of us use. I hope reading this will make you realise you are not the only one that is finding life tough at times (and a lot of you these Covid times in particular). Perhaps you think this is just a little ego-trip and self pity dump, that is fine as well. But I hope in this week (and hopefully beyond this week as well) we all stop jumping to judgements about other people and try to look beyond the facade.
And for everyone that is struggling at the moment: It really is ok not to be ok, but try to share if you can. It helps. (and then ask about the other person as well, because they might also struggle, caring goes both ways).