My Mental Health
Today is World Mental Health Day and after the summer I have had, I couldn’t let the day go by without at least addressing the importance of this movement to understand mental health and how it can cripple some individuals!
I, myself, experienced trauma this past May that left me emotionally numb in some areas, but also in a tremendous amount of pain in other areas. The mental experience required intentional conversations to even begin the process of healing. It all comes down to awareness.
In my coaching practice, I spend a lot of time working with clients and digging into their mental and emotional health awareness - it’s that word right there: AWARENESS. We can only grow in our relationships when we do the work to become aware of our mental and emotional health.
Think about this - the synonyms for awareness are: consciousness, recognitions, REALIZATION, cognizance, PERCEPTION, apprehension, understanding, grasp, appreciation, ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, knowledge, sensitivity to, sensibility to, INSIGHT INTO, familiarity with, ACQUAINTANCE WITH
When you REALIZE what your mental and emotional health looks like - you have a starting point to do the work.
When you understand how your mental and emotional health can change your PERCEPTION, you can ACKNOWLEDGE that maybe other people’s mental and emotional health are changing their perceptions.
When you have INSIGHTS INTO the power of mental and emotional health, you can control that power and turn it into a force for good.
Getting ACQUAINTED WITH your mental and emotional health is the best gift you can give yourself, your loved ones, your friends and your peers!
Bringing awareness to your mental health is more than just being aware of the “BIG'' mental health issues such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Personality Disorders, Phobias, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, etc which may require medical interventions. Mental and emotional awareness is ALSO understanding the importance and origins of negative self-talk, fears, insecurities, narcissism, and low self-esteem; psychological aspects that can significantly impact a person’s well-being and the quality of their relationships!
When we talk about Mental Health Awareness, we do it because we know that the journey to mental and emotional wellness can be a daily battle - taken with so much intentionality, grace and understanding.
With all that said, let me tell you the story of my mental health, my daily battle.
I have never shied away from discussing the very deep depression I went through over three years ago, or acknowledging that my fear of rejection can trigger some very unhealthy avoidance techniques, or discovering that my anxiety is so bad that I leave bruises on my legs while I sleep because I am gripping them so much. Being able to discuss these kinds of mental health experiences are vital to building awareness! While these areas of mental struggle are a constant nuisance that can show up in various times of my life, my daily battle is my negative self-talk.
I am a product of the 80s, a time when a woman’s body image was dangerously unhealthy, a time when being loved was equated to a woman's ability to submit to the described religious role, a time when a woman needed to always be put together in every area of their life, a time when a woman’s worth was only measured by the man in it. That was my mental programming. In so many unhealthy ways. For as long as I could remember.
Trying to reprogram my brain has come at a real cost.
I am left questioning my worth.
I am questioning my purpose.
I am questioning my value.
I am questioning my ability to be successful.
I am questioning if I will ever be loved.
Negative self-talk is not just the “oh you suck” when something small happens - negative self-talk is my brain’s attempt to convert ANY positive feelings into negative messages.
The most evident way it does this is the sad truth that I can barely look at myself in the mirror. My brain doesn’t see a warm comforting smile, but rather it sees ugliness and someone who will never be loved. My brain doesn’t see a well dressed, classy woman, but rather a disgusting body shape that would want to engage in unhealthy eating habits just to be valued. My brain cannot comprehend natural beauty, but would pick out all the flaws of a woman who “clearly just doesn’t care about herself”.
I suffer every morning when I get ready for work.
I suffer every time I walk by a window reflection or see a picture of myself.
I suffer in every conversation I have with strangers.
It is a daily battle to make positive choices for my physical health.
It’s a daily battle as I cry through the negative words said to me (which happens more than I care to admit), and treasure the kind encouragements that I do receive.
It is a daily battle to avoid negative coping mechanisms to make myself feel better.
It is a daily battle to place worth in all of the accomplishments I have achieved thus far.
It is a daily battle to have the hard conversations so I stay ahead of my negative self-talk.
It is a daily battle to repress my need for excessive affirmations - I have to love myself first!
I understand what it’s like to feel stuck in your head. That is why it is called mental health. Like I previously mentioned, the journey through mental health takes intentionality, understanding and grace!
I am intentional with placing value on the healthy emotional, mental and physical choices that I can make. I am intentional in understanding and accepting my limitations, differences and humanness. I am intentional in giving myself grace when I do give into my negative self-talk.
I hope that through all of my own personal work, I will only deepen my empathy, compassion and love for those who struggle in their own daily battles!! No one can truly know what someone else is going through and I cannot fight anyone else’s battle for them - but I want to be an encouragement and a safe space for others to share their battles!
No one can truly know what someone else is going through, behind closed doors, behind smiles, behind sad eyes, and to disregard what someone struggles with just because they don’t seem “the type” is a dangerous precedent to set.
The whole point of Mental Health Awareness is to bring light to the areas that people keep dark and hidden.
The “pretty” face who struggles with negative self talk.
The “happy” guy who struggles with depression.
The “successful” executive who is on the brink of a breakdown.
If we talk about the pain we suffer, maybe we can save the next “happy” Robin Williams, the “popular” Stephen “tWitch” Boss, the “world-renowned” Anthony Bourdaine, or the “beautiful and successful” Miss Universe Chelsie Kryst from getting lost in their head and taking their own lives.
So I caution: Be careful how you respond to someone else’s mental health journey, you want to build trust - not break it!
If you need help on a mental or emotional health journey and want someone to come alongside you - please reach out!
I’d love to support you!
Please follow me on my social media platforms for words of encouragement and support!
Instagram - joniwoods
Facebook - joniwoods
TikTok - joniwoods730
On my personal websites or here at the SunTimes News!
Joni Woods, ACC
Relationship and Communication Coach
“Creating the future You want!”