Word Mental Health Day 2018
Wednesday 10th October 2018 @ 9:18 am
10th October, World Mental Health day.
1 in 4 of us will suffer with poor mental health in our lives. If you’re a student in a lecture of 100 people today – 25 of those sitting around you have experienced / will experience / are experiencing a break in how they see themselves as whole & functioning human beings. For me it was anxiety illness when I was in my late twenties. I’ll not write about it here, maybe in the future I will devote proper time to exploring how to write about it well … but yes, I know what it’s like to wake up in the middle of the night and think I am about to die. Nothing before, or since, has managed to be such a stark experience – or thankfully (in the end) a teacher to me, inviting me to different patterns of living and thinking.
The journey forward has continued over 20 years – and will continue until I take my final breath. This is the strange ‘gift’ that anxiety gave me – it invited me to make a choice to know myself better. To be aware of brain chemistry, of signs and signals within my gut, to be aware of what certain people and places provoke within me, and of my desires, wants, fears and hopes. Awareness, and self–awareness in particular, has been the most beautiful and most difficult journey … and should never stop.
For me, one of the latest steps on this journey has been to embrace something a friend said in a circle check–in a couple of years ago. ‘I’m not sure I want to be my best self, I want to be my full self.’
That set me off on a positive trail. I caught it, and it meant something to me. It continues to grow within me. The idea to me is simple – I have spent so long thinking about ‘my best self,’ and what that might be, that other ‘selves’ get hidden. Hidden, in mental health world, leads to suppression. And suppression leads to anxiety, depression and dangerous expression – because things don’t stay suppressed. So to be my full self, is to learn to embrace the full me, dark corners and all. To live well, and full. To be honest with myself, and those around me. To know that imperfection is an important part of me. To embrace the full me, warts n’all. And to allow the full me to turn up.
Naturally – I suspect that embracing and living in fullness is actually what leads to a better me. So I’ve stopped asking ‘what do I do to be my best me?’ and rather I invite myself, in my imperfection, to the fullness of experience, learning and living.
In that vain, here is an old piece of poetic writing which I am sure will do the rounds again on the internet today. I find it stimulating, challenging and beautiful. And I now read it as a call, not to the best me, but to the full me.
The Invitation by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon… I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
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