Mental Health Is Messy (and 21 More Thoughts for Mental Health Month )

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month I’d like to remind myself…

  1. Mental health is messy.

  2. What it looks like for me to maintain my mental can be completely foreign to someone else. And that’s okay.

  3. Asking for help is a scary but good thing.

  4. I can support my friends, love my family, and self-preserve at the same time. Even if it’s from a distance.

  5. I can appreciate my present without hating on my past.

  6. Vulnerability makes me stronger.

  7. Opening up = taking a risk.

  8. More risks taken = more lessons learned.

  9. Reading a book is not the same as doing the work.

  10. Doing the work (especially the hard parts) is an act of self-care.

  11. And doing it imperfectly is still cause for celebration.

  12. Life is too short to feel shame about my process.

  13. Prioritizing my wellness benefits my work in the long-run.

  14. Relationships are the fitness centers of emotional growth. Play full out.

  15. Unhealthy patterns can be broken when I recognize them.

  16. Starting small is underrated.

  17. #TeamNoSleep is overrated.

  18. Don’t take unsolicited advice personally.

  19. Therapy is for everyone.

  20. I’m the only one responsible for my mental health journey.

  21. I don’t need to forfeit my happiness to pursue my dreams.

  22. When I love myself - there’s nothing to hide, nothing to protect, and nothing to defend.

I'm Paying Attention

I picked up the phone yesterday to schedule a meeting with my beloved coach who I haven’t seen in a long minute. The first thing he says:

“You sound really good.”

There’s a handful of people I really trust when they say things like that. People I believe can sense my energy over the phone. He’s one of them. With a laugh and a dramatic sigh of relief, I said:

“Yeah! I’m paying attention.

Paying attention? I’m paying attention. I never heard myself put it that way. I liked the way it sounded.

“Yes,” he echoed. “You sound really focused.”

That felt really good to hear. And it got me thinking. What does that mean - that I’m paying attention? I’m circling around three things:

  1. Mental Clarity. Since giving up things like excessive alcohol, I’ve had a lot more space to think about how I’m feeling and what I really want to be doing moment-to-moment. It’s not all roses - sometimes I’m pulling at the weeds. But it’s more fun to explore the nuances of my own emotional spectrum when I’m asking the right questions. For example…

    Is this love or is it infatuation?

    Is this hunger or is it boredom?

    Is this anger or is it ego?

  2. Physical Awareness. With more mental real estate to play with, I’m making more informed decisions about where to put my body. How to move. What to eat. When to wake up or go to sleep. It’s an ongoing experiment in consistency and it gets messy sometimes. But just like the real scientific method, the more I repeat a routine, the more I learn. And adjustments are always available to make.

  3. Spiritual Grounded-ness. Gentle, gentle, gentle — that’s the unspoken mantra I’ve been whispering to myself throughout my transformation these last few months.

    When I’m feeling really hyped about completing a task and I want to go even harder I have to remind myself, is this a pace I can sustain?

    When I want to beat myself up about the way I’ve acted in a relationship I have to ask myself, is that guilt really helping you out right now?

    I’ve had to sacrifice a few short-term pleasures for my long-term goals and I’m learning to be ok with letting those go.

This mindset is not an on/off switch for me. It’s a fluid practice I commit to and learn from everyday.

What does it mean for you to pay attention?

Talent vs. Commitment

When caught in comparison, it’s easy for me to start counting the awards and appearances of others - stewing comfortably in a salt bath of insecurity.

I’m talented! I’ve got talent!

I want that. I could do that. I deserve that, too….right?

That’s the voice of my ego (occasionally reinforced by partners, family, friends, fans).

Behind that voice, I’ve started listening to another one. The voice of commitment.

How much do I want it?

What am I willing to risk?

How long am I willing to wait? and

Can I be happy with where I’m at right now?

These are the questions that help me put things in perspective.

Talent is only one element of the equation. Why not consider the other variables, preferably the ones already in your control?