As soon as things get tough, you know you are going to need a few people to lean on.
The most obvious team you’ll have is the medical professional component, but we need a range of people around us to provide a variety of support.
With any chronic condition you are probably going to end up with your own medical team to support you with your physical, mental and emotional health. We live in a world where we can access any information that we want on the internet, where everyone has an opinion about ‘what is best’ and unsolicited advice being given from all angles. Having medical professionals to provide you with clear and accurate information that is trustworthy and appropriate for your needs is important.
What about the people around you?
We need support from a range of different people and communities for perspective and to hear a variety of lived experiences. A lot of the time we just need someone who will listen or distract us. It is way too easy when things get tough, to shrink into an isolated world, internatise it all and require all our needs met from only a few people.
Too often, we forget and load all our expectations onto one person – usually a partner or a carer – to provide all the support we will need. Relying on one person puts an undue amount of pressure and stress on the person and the relationship.
Having all your eggs in one basket is really risky if something does happen to a relationship or friendship, who would you turn to for support if they weren’t there? The same can be said if your network is solely based around your current employment. What happens when you are not working and no longer surrounded by those people or have that identity? It is always good to review regularly if there is an imbalance, and adjust it to spread the load or widen the net.
Another thing to consider is what type of support a relationship provides and allowing it to evolve naturally. Letting people support you in the way that is most comfortable and natural for them to give is the most life-giving gift – both to you and to them.
Having a friend that has been through a similar experience to you can be very supportive and can help acknowledge that your experience is valid. Someone who says ‘I see what you are going through, I’ve been through something similar’ is very comforting.
I have a person in my life who is always helping to lighten life up and they are great at it. They are the person I go to when things start to feel heavy or complicated, usually I can tell them what’s going on and know I’ll get a funny perspective on the situation or a flat out ‘that’s shit’ comment.
Other times, it is pure escapism to be around a person who makes you forget the struggles you are dealing with and do something easy going and relaxing together.
Sometimes it is having the wise support from the elderly who have weathered the storm and have their whole life to reflect on to show you that there are waves to ride that are up and down, and there will always be rough and smooth sailing.
If you can handle it, being around kids is great to help forget your struggles. Kids will always make sure that you are paying attention to the present moment and highlight things that you probably didn’t notice. Laughing and playing with kids is such a joy and one of the simplest pleasures in life.
If someone in your life is struggling with a hard time or a medical condition, let them know if and how you can support them in a way that is natural for you. A lot of the time it is the simplest things that are the most supportive.
Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.
We all need our little anchors to keep up grounded and uplifted when the seas and skies are stormy.
October is Mental Health Awareness month and here are a few things we can do to support mental health.
I hope you have people and places where you don’t have to be strong too.
We are all aware of the mental health campaigns urging us to check in with each other, to start the conversation about someone’s mental health… but do you know how to support and guide them to resources if they say “No, I’m not ok”?. What are the next steps to take? Do you feel confident to have that discussion? Read more about my experience completing the Mental Health First Aid course.
What do we do when the days all start to feel the same? How do we get ourselves out of a funk?
A few words on driving, medical conditions and compromises.