this stuff is golden, mental health awareness week, supportive friends, supporting mental illness, support friends with mental illness, being supportive, mental health awareness, mental illness,

Lifting Each Other Up

Last night my SO and I tried a little exercise – after successfully putting our daughter to bed, we sat on the sofa and wrote down each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

I initially suggested that we do this because thinking of your own strengths and weaknesses is hard (though I did try it recently in a timed writing exercise). It’s especially hard when you are going through a tough time and your weaknesses list is much easier to write than your strengths list.

This exercise was also suggested by a friend of mine who had given me a bit of wise advice for the not so great time that my SO and I are going through right now; broke AF (I have -£24 in my account), depressed and anxious, conflicted about what to do with our lives (especially careers), and looking after a teething baby. We wanted to try it so that we could figure out a decent, well-thought-out plan to change our current circumstances for the better (we are still working on it).

Here are the lists that my SO wrote about me:

Strengths:

  • Kind/selfless – put your feelings aside for the benefit of others
  • Focused and very organised
  • Ethical – you won’t sell yourself out even when money is desperate
  • Great at writing
  • Great mother
  • Imaginative and creative
  • Conscience
  • You don’t take the world at face value

Weaknesses:

  • Impatient
  • Self critical
  • Focus on the negatives
  • Compare yourself to others

(He was very kind).

We ended up having honest and interesting conversation about how we are feeling, how we see ourselves, and a little bit of what we are going to do to try and change things (- it’s really hard to decide what to do).

It was also nice to give myself a break from reflecting about myself. I’m my own worst critic (see the above Weaknesses list) and always give myself a really hard time, especially when I see somebody else succeeding where I think I have failed (again, see above Weaknesses list).

You may not believe me but I’m actually much better than I used to be in that respect – yes I still compare myself and yes I still put myself down but I do it a lot less often. I’m not my greatest fan (yet) but I’m trying to give myself a break, and a little credit for at least getting through the days (and raising a cute baby).

I would love to be able to think about myself the way I would think about a friend. I think I’m quite a thoughtful and supportive friend to have. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we treated ourselves the way we treat the people we admire and actually like?!

Imagine having a network of people (let’s face it, by network of people I really mean ‘group chat’) that was just there for you to receive motivational compliments whenever you needed them? Doesn’t that sound amazing?!*

(Or is that just what it’s like to have a group of friends?)

Imagine reaching for your phone when you are feeling really anxious about going to an event (big or small), sending a quick ‘help!’ message and then receiving any of the following:

“Don’t worry, you got this.”
“You are smart, you are kind, you are important.”
“Slay, queen!”

It may only help a little but that’s better than feeling alone in your thoughts, right?

As it is the middle of #mentalhealthawarenessweek perhaps starting up a group like this (or just messaging the people you already text like a regular person), sending thoughtful messages of encouragement would be a great thing to do, whether you know if that person is going through a tough time or not.

Everybody has mental health, 1 in 4 of us have mental illness, and all of us have our own version of bad days – a kind message can go a long way, regardless of that person’s circumstances.

Let’s be each other’s allies, as well as our own.


*= Seriously, if you want to, I’m down for that.

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