Mental healthcare is part of my wellness plan because many years ago now I found myself in a situation that I had never envisioned being in. I had just completely lost my s**t at work and was being sent home for the day by my boss.
Can you imagine? In the middle of the day from a skilled nursing facility!
- Don’t worry about your minutes
- You don’t need to see the rest of your patients today
- You need to go home and take some time
- Oh, and please don’t come back to work until you get your act together
I was mortified.
And honestly, I had no idea what to do to help myself. All I knew was that my world was falling apart and I had no skills and no one to turn to. I had never felt more alone in my entire life.
That same day, the social worker at the facility scheduled me for my first counseling session. I’m pretty sure my boss mandated some sort of intervention. She literally called a community provider and scheduled me an appointment. At that moment, I was totally unable to help myself and I’m sure they could have just fired me.
But instead, they recognized that I needed help.
When I look back, it is still one of the most humbling moments of my life. I was so vulnerable and alone and I am eternally grateful that someone had my back.
Over the course of the next year, Tuesdays at 11 changed my life. Those sessions widened my perspective, gave me the opportunity to gain skills. They helped me to envision a life where I felt empowered and happy.
Since that memorable day over fifteen years ago, mental healthcare has always been a vital part of my wellness plan. No different than my annual physical or going to the doctor for a broken bone. Regular assessment, and management of my emotional well being has become a non-negotiable part of my healthcare.
Why Mental Healthcare Is Part of My Wellness Plan
1. Research undeniably supports a connection between emotional dysregulation and physical health.
High levels of stress, poor sleep, and unhealthy lifestyle choices have been found to be directly related to physical disease and decreased life expectancy. Having lost my Mom to pancreatic cancer in her fifties, I am well aware that retirement and old age are not a guarantee.
I never want my daughter to have to go through the devastation of losing her Mom at a young age. When I consider my plan for longevity and health, considering all factors that impact my well being is crucial. It is more clear than ever before that this includes mental health.
2. Consideration of mental healthcare was not something that I experienced growing up.
In my family we were raised to be tough and focused on pure grit to get us through difficult situations. Mental healthcare was for those who were weak or mentally ill. We were taught to persevere and to keep pushing forward.
Please don’t hear this as a dig to my parents or the way my siblings and I were raised. I truly believe that everyone does the best they can with the tools that they have at the time. And the reality is, my siblings and I all turned out to be pretty damn amazing!
But, over the years I have chosen to add an abundance of tools to my personal well being toolbox. As I consider how I want to raise my daughter, I know it is important to me that an awareness of mental and emotional health are on the forefront. I want her to know that it’s ok to be not ok.
3. It’s ok to be not ok.
Life is a series of ups and downs and the expectation that we all feel great all the time is just not realistic. I am a huge supporter of optimism and the positivity movement. However, the idea that we all need to be happy all the time can be hugely detrimental for those that are struggling.
Being forced to stuff down our authentic selves to ensure that we promote good vibes only can be scary. Having someone that you can lean on for support and who it feels safe to be less than your best in front of is huge.
Whether it’s a trusted friend, family member, or licensed provider, fostering those relationships can help you to feel confident in knowing you have someone to turn when things are not ok.
If you or someone you know needs support, help is available. Text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255 to connect.
4. Different phases of life call for new skills.
There have been a number of experiences in my 39 years where the skills I had and the services I was offered just did not get the job done. For example:
- It was totally expected that I hire someone to photograph and cater my wedding, yet there was no expectation at all that I might work with someone on developing the skills to actually stay married.
- When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer it went without saying that we would explore our options and find the very best approach for treating her disease. Not once along the way was it ever suggested that she and our family may benefit from a plan for dealing with the emotional distress that came with a terminal diagnosis.
- The day we brought my daughter home from the hospital, I remember sitting in the lobby clutching my things and crying hysterically. I had been taught how to diaper, feed and swaddle my infant, but in that moment I had NO clue how to deal with the sheer terror and overwhelm that came along with being a brand new Mom.
I have reached a point where I am able to notice when I’m in over my head. When I feel like I’m treading water, but unsure how to gain the momentum to get myself back onto dry land. I have learned (perhaps the hard way) how to reach out and call for my lifeline. Recognizing and taking advantage of the fact that support is available and it is always possible to keep learning.
5. I believe that wellness exists on a continuum
There are times when mental health services are necessary to get out of a crisis situation. The goal being to move back towards a baseline level of function. Then there are times when learning, growth, and skill development are at the forefront of my mental wellness plan.
Lastly, there is the maintaining phase. The self check ins and the accountability that can be so crucial to follow through and long term success.
I am a physical rehab provider and I consider this mental health care no different than seeing a physical therapist for an injury, going to a trainer at the gym, or attending a weekly kickboxing or yoga class to help with reaching and maintaining my fitness goals.
I believe that wellness exists on a continuum. In order to reach our maximum potential we must move beyond surviving.
Mental healthcare is part of my wellness plan because life is hard.
Continuing to learn and to adapt helps me feel empowered and hopeful as I face each new phase. My wish is that healthcare and our society continues to normalize and celebrate the value in treating mental and emotional health across the wellness continuum.
As always, I would love to hear what you think!