Are you Surviving or Thriving? Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW
How are you today? Really! How are you feeling right now?
When was the last time you answered these questions honestly?
We are often very quick to answer "I am fine" "I am ok" or "I am so-so".
Rarely, do we say "I am feeling depressed, stress, fatigue, fed up, burnout or hopeless"?
Culturally and professionally, most of us don't like to share our true feelings when we are just surviving. People don't like to talk about feeling burnout, depression or fatigue. Research is showing that more and more people are suffering in silence.
As a mental health champion, I want to start a conversation and create awareness about mental health issues. I want to encourage anyone suffering from work-related stress, fatigue, burnout and depression to seek help straight away and to never to give up hope of feeling better again!
I was just SURVIVING!
I want to share my grey moments with you to encourage you to do the same, speak up. At the peak of my corporate career (2012-2013), before I started Transformation21st. I was working and commuting long hours, sleep deprived and fatigued. I became forgetful, grumpy and miserable. I didn't have any energy to enjoy physical activities that I participated in before. At my lowest, I didn't have any power and felt hopeless. I was just surviving on a daily basis. I started having blurred vision, I was struggling to fall asleep and wasn't a happy smiley person anymore. But whenever anyone would ask me, I used to answer "I am fine" or "I am tired!".
After months of not feeling like my usual self, I sought help because I got tired of feeling tired and I knew that things had to change. I spoke to a trained professional counsellor on a weekly basis, who helped me understand what I was feeling and made me realise that I had to reduce or stop the stressors. The myth of having it all as a working mother was taking its' toll on my health and affecting the precious time I had for my family.
I was told that I was suffering from burnout yet I didn't even know what was wrong with me. Before my experience, I didn't know anyone who had suffered exhaustion. In the end, speaking up, my friends and family, a supportive employer and my faith in God helped me to recover from burnout completely. I have learnt to slow down, listen to my body more and participant in activities such as cycling, walking and swimming which help mental health. I am also teaching myself meditation and mindfulness.
Mental Health Wellbeing is all of our responsibility.
In the 21st century, the pace of change will cause more stress for professionals and startups. We all have a responsibility to pay more attention to our mental health. We also need to support others who may not know that they are merely surviving. Employers are getting better at implementing wellbeing programs such as mindfulness, but without a culture shift that sees working longer hours as a health risk, I am concern that many people will continue to suffer.
According to mental health organisation, every 2 hours a person end their life due to mental illness. In the last three years, I have been on a train on two occasions when two people stopped their lives. This is very sad! This is why I want to spark a conversation and encourage you TO SPEAK UP.
According to the Psychology Today, professionals who are higher achievers are most at risk of suffering mental illness such as stress, fatigue and depression. The reason for this could be ignoring early warning signs. Whatever the reason, please make looking after your mental health a priority. Just imagine trying to drive a car without an engine? I am talking about the traditional vehicles...not sure if the engine will be needed in the future.
If you are a manager, leader or an employer, please look after your employees' mental health just as much as you do financially and physically!
You are not alone!
From my coaching experience, my clients tell me that they are or have experienced some form of high stress, anxiety and fatigue. The leading causes of mental health illness as reported by my clients have been the heavy workload, a weak relationship with their bosses, more extended working hours, job uncertainties due to constant restructuring and working in a high pressured environment. These clients are coming to me to gain career clarity, confidence and resilience. On a few occasions, I have had to refer the clients suffering from severe mental health to medical professionals to get treatments before embarking on coaching with me.
To conclude this article, I would like to offer you hope if you are currently feeling low. Please seek help, speak up and don't give up hope for a better tomorrow. After every storm, there is blue sky a rainbow and sunshine.
Treat this time you are in as a season; you will need to reassess your stressors and adapt your life to cope. When you feel that you are just surviving on a daily basis instead of thriving, this is an indication that things are perhaps not going very well.
Helpful resources and more information on Mental Health
I would like to end this article saying, Transformation21st does not treat serious mental health illnesses. I am championing mental health awareness based on my own experience, experience of my clients and my genuine desire to get more people talking about mental health. The opinion expressed in this article is my own.
By sharing my story, I hope that you will be encouraged to speak up and to perhaps help someone struggling.
Let me encourage you to have Faith and Hope whenever you are facing a grey season in life!
So next time someone ask you, how are you? Be honest:-)
If you ask me today how I am, I would say I am THRIVING!
Thank you for reading this article, please share and leave a comment!
Article written by Faith Ruto, Transformation21st Founding Director | Coach | Inspirational Speaker
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