Mental health – some things you can’t put a spin on

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After the year we’ve all endured and as a parent and small business owner, Sam Howard adds her voice in support of mental health awareness.Sam Howard Mental Health Blog

Running the agency and being a lone parent are usually quite enough to be going on with. But aiming for all the plates spinning all of the time is normally OK. It’s the life I’ve chosen and I make a point of rewarding the tough times with the good: Normally we enjoy lots of family travel; yummy dinners with friends; hikes out into the countryside with the hounds etc. So I can usually ride out the storms.

But when thinly-stretched is your base point and then you swap out your reward system  for grief, fear, restrictions and isolation – I guess it’s no surprise that I have sometimes felt completely overwhelmed. Add to that a very ‘tentative’ year for business and ‘bleak’ would just about sum me up for much of 2021.

Also having to bear witness to the carnage this era has wreaked in our children’s lives is extraordinarily painful. An observant parent once noted, “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Effectively keeping me tethered somewhere between despondent and extremely anxious.

I have no magic cure, no top five tips, no slick way of linking this back to our services.

I’m lucky to be old enough to have had my first jab which was huge. And for me, things started to get better when after a winter of all work and no play, I  swapped the laptop for a shovel and headed off into the garden for a couple of weeks to give my brain a bit of a break and to get some perspective.

Looking forward to looking forward

In the short term, I hope that as we all come out of this and are able to reclaim our personal reward system, we can look forward to better times and our mental resilience and stability will be returned to us.

But in the longer term I hope we have learned some collective empathy. Having weathered the menopause, I am no stranger to anxiety and panic attacks. Even though it was only a few years ago, the general consensus at the time was that all I need do was, ‘just get a grip’. With so many of us now more personally acquainted with the debilitations of poor mental health, I hope there will now be a much deeper well of consideration for those in our care. Whether they be colleagues, family or friends who are suffering, let us hope this collective experience, enables us to give them the comfort, patience and support they deserve.