I pretty much take my mind for granted. I’ve been lucky in sailing through most of my exams at school and rely on my brain to pay the bills, as I am in a job where analysis and composing complex information is a requirement. Recently I felt like I’d let things go a bit and my mind wasn’t performing as it should. I kind of needed to give it a rest. If this had been a bad back or some other illness, I think I’d have been much kinder on myself, and accepted this earlier. As it was I struggled on for way longer than was really helpful for me or others concerned. This is pretty common, we all like to think we are invincible and young for way longer than we actually are, otherwise why would anyone smoke! If you are rundown mentally though, the implications for your work, social life can be more long-term and people often suffer prejudice and discrimination.
Since then people have been really helpful in sharing ideas and approaches, and I’ve had different kinds of support from my GP signing me off work to counselling and advice from colleagues and friends. The one I’m enjoying the most is mindfulness, I downloaded an app, called Head Space and completed a 10 day trial, and have noticed immediately that I am much nicer to live with and can take different developments more in my stride. It teaches you not to react immediately to thoughts and feelings, rather to notice these and explore them, without acting on them. It’s a technique not dissimilar to meditation, guided Bible reflections, or other ways of praying that people of faith use around the world. It is definitively worth a try though as it helps you take a step back. When my mind is full of children’s schedules, work, difficult conversations I’ve had, and any other ideas swilling around, I can end up feeling overloaded, and miss the sunshine and the colour of the sky, when this isn’t actually necessary.
I have two close relatives who are olympic champions in taming their minds after being diagnosed with bi-polar and schizophrenia in the early 90’s and both have managed to complete degrees, get married and live independent and challenging lives. Both are a real inspiration to me in managing life long conditions that have big ramifications for their lives, but not letting it define them. Like a paralympic they aspire to achieve as much as they can with their amazing minds, but also recognise their limitations and own the reality of that on her day to day life. I think if everyone did that the world would probably be a much nicer, and safer place!