Mental Health & Wellbeing
The road to recovery can sometimes be longer than you think. It can be frustrating, especially when an injury cannot be seen, but only felt or experienced. It is down to the individual to interpret what’s happening physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Issues with mental health and personal happiness can often be overlooked by others and health care professionals.
Contemplation of death or more importantly contemplation of life. Following an extremely close call with Bacterial Meningitis I am incredibly lucky to be alive.
At the age of forty-four I now understand three things that I really wish I had understood at the beginning. If I was told that it was my choice to be born and my responsibly extended far beyond my behaviour and my family, I might have been able to fully grasp the consequences of my actions and life choices. Not that I regret anything in my life, but I may have chosen to do things with more focus, love, and precision.
- You get one body – respect it and look after it
- You are here to learn – embrace every experience in front of you
- Humanity needs you – work for the good of society and our planet
For others, they consider the physical condition. I look well, I’m moving about and can hold a conversation. I must be back to the person I was before my illness. Friends and family speak to me as if I was the same person as before my experience. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I have certainly changed, and I truly believe these experiences in life happen for a reason. In time I will become a stronger with greater understanding than I had before.
People don’t see the effort it takes to smile, hold a conversation and everything that goes on behind the facade. My head becomes overloaded, I am unable to focus, I struggle to find the right words and can forget things that happened a moment ago or some of the great memories from my past. Simple pleasures are now more difficult and not so enjoyable. I feel emotion in an extremely heightened way. I become overwhelmed easily which makes me want to avoid large groups, noisy environments and anywhere I feel a build-up of unstable or frantic energy.
Time is relative, I will recover and go through things in my own time. Each aspect of life whether it be material or philosophical I now see through different eyes. In my core I am the same, holding the same beliefs and moral compass but the world around me is more intense, more beautiful, and unique.
Issues surrounding mental health
- Confidence and belief in oneself.
- Mood swings and controlling emotion.
- Little things become big things.
- Frustration with people around me but especially myself.
Each experience we have in life changes us ever so slightly. Normally we are robust enough that we do not register the change, or it takes a long time to process through our system and realisations cascade through our body and conscious mind over months or years. A life-threatening illness takes you back to square one and overloads an already fragile mind and body all at once. This can be difficult to handle.
Mental Health & Art
There are so many benefits to allowing space for creativity. It has been proven to make a huge difference to mental health and wellbeing. Although not everyone is creative, allowing freedom of mind is incredibly important. I have painted for many years and know that approaching a blank canvas without a clear direction can be a very scary prospect. In essence this is what we are doing in life. Without goal and vision, we will never have purpose and feel a sense of achievement working towards a goal. The ironic part is that for creativity to thrive and our mind to process we must approach a blank canvas with complete freedom of mind. Without purpose and expectation, but most importantly without judgement.
Even for the most accomplished and creative artist this can be an incredible challenge. Everyone has created a toolkit of beliefs and skills they use to create their image. This can be difficult to break. That is why many artists paintings are instantly recognisable, they have used their tool kits which is comfortable and does not challenge their expectation or ego.
Allow yourself the freedom of expression and complete honesty to yourself without judgment or ego. You may find it an incredibly rewarding experience.
Written by Richard Stuttle