Over the past years, mental health has been on everyone’s agenda. But what is mental health and why did it take a global pandemic to wake people up to its importance? The world health organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Which is why when COVID hit, so many of us needed to focus more on mental health due to the anxiety of our new reality.
But also because we were stuck and for many months had not developed proper outlets for dealing with the stress of a global pandemic, not seeing loved ones but having to still operate and work every day of the week. For me mental health has always been at the forefront of everything that I do. As someone with a history of depression, and anxiety. I am well aware of the debilitating effects bad mental health can have on me. Which is why even though the pandemic started just after I had a baby. One thing I knew for sure was that i would have to be vigilant about my mental health. For me this meant going for walks when it was allowed with a mask every single day. Working out even for 15 minutes. And doing things that I love like cooking and watching my favorite TV shows and movies.
This was all good and well until I was hit with a wave of postpartum depression. something I had not prepared for and was not ready for. And despite my knowledge of depression, it still took me weeks and months to admit that I was actually depressed. I knew I had hit rock bottom, when even seeing my daughters gummy smile made me want to cry (and not happy tears). This was when i realized that I needed help and fast. As soon as I spoke to my husband and close friends about it, I was amazed at how supportive and understanding they were. Not only were they willing to step in when I simply couldn’t. But they didn’t judge me or make me feel like a bad person or worse, a bad mother.
Instead I felt supported, heard and understood which allowed the healing process to go by much quicker. And whilst I am still working on my mental health. One thing I know for sure is that in order to get help, one has to ask for it. And our communities, whether it be our partners, friends, family member’s or parents, need to be informed and equipped to help us. the same goes for us too. We too should educate ourselves so that if someone we love is depressed or has any mental health concerns we are able to act accordingly.
And whilst I know from experience that mental health is still a taboo subject in many homes and communities. I also can testify to the positive impact of being informed. And having those around you informed as well. One thing is for sure however and that is that mental health will always be an issue. In the age of social media, cultural and social expectations, and even television. We will always need to talk about it and stay informed. After all, it could be the difference between saving a life, or someone losing theirs.