I’ve suffered from limiting self-belief and lack of self-confidence for most of my life. I never believed I was good enough in many aspects of my life.  Career, love and friendships.  Even though I was a professionally qualified in HR. I was waiting for someone to catch me out as a fraud. In friendships I never felt I was interesting enough.  I felt my humour had to be stifled and I never had the right clothes. So this had an effect on finding love.

Many times over the years the impact this had was that I would withdraw into myself. I would go to work, come home and go straight to bed. I’d get up, go to work, come home and go straight to bed. My work would suffer as it would take me ages to find the courage to action certain tasks.  Tasks that on a good day I would just get on and do.   I wouldn’t socialise with my friends. I would cancel a few days before as I would start to panic. Then I would cry most of the night they were out as I wasn’t and couldn’t be with them. And if we met for coffee during the day I would change 6 times.

Many times over the years it resulted in me spiralling into depression and I was given medication. I did a number of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy courses and I was able to put my own tool kit in place to help when needed. However there were times when I didn’t notice my triggers and I would find myself on the spiral downwards.

The Jack-in-the-box effect

On a recent occasion my mental health was beginning to get fragile.  I was in a busy place with lots to do. Being motivated by my goals I was being proactive. However, I was not sleeping brilliantly and I was overwhelmed with everything I wanted to achieve. The frustration had started that my inner voice was saying I’d never make my dreams a reality.  I was going to fail.

One sleepless night, I recorded my thoughts and was surprised by the analogy I used to describe my thoughts. It was a jack-in-the-box.  My words were:

“Sometimes there is so much going on, the to do list is long and I’m battling the voice in my head. It feels as though I’m in this box or bubble and I’m looking out into the world. The sides feel as though it’s closing in on me, there is noise going on and never ending.  There feels as though someone or something is trying to to keep me in this box and I need to explode to get out.  It’s a bit like a negative Jack-in-the-box!

The toy that gets wound up to play music and then all of a sudden the Jack would pop out the top. It can be like that with your head at times and is hard to express. You feel out of control of reality, your being irrational (and know it). An inability to think straight and I have this negative energy I need to get rid of.  The need to be destructive. To scream, shout or cry at someone. React to anything to get your adrenaline pumping and letting that frustration out.”

My thoughts from listening to this back is to be mindful to others when you may see an outburst, a meltdown or if they ‘go off on one’. They may be going through a lot and need someone to be kind to them.  I guess this is where the saying “don’t cry over spilt milk’ comes from. When someone does it’s usually because there is so much else going on in their head/life right now.

Questions to check in on your mental health

  • How am I feeling today? (both mentally and physically)
  • What is taking up most of my thoughts
  • Is my inner voice supporting me or being a barrier?
  • How productive am I being and can I concentrate?
  • How did I sleep last night?
  • Have I taken a break to eat, drink and breathe?
  • What am I doing to bring me joy and happiness today?
  • Do I need some fresh air?

It’s so easy to keep going and ploughing through. However, if we do not check in with ourselves regularly we can end up feeling stressed, agitated, lethargic, irritable or low.

If you have someone you are concerned about

  • Call them and ask ‘How they are..’
  • Invite them for a walk
  • Co-ordinate diaries and put some plans in place
  • Jog their memory of something that happened in the past – sometimes things seem so dark that it’s hard to remember there was ever light.
  • Remind them that they can be honest with you.
  • Most often people want to be heard.  Get things off their chest, so let them talk.

You never know, you could be their only hope of having a better day.

Years ago I wouldn’t talk about it.  I thought it was just me that felt like this and I was wired wrong. Now I share my story, thoughts and tips to help and raise awareness.

Remember, we all need to be kind to ourselves everyday. Be your own best friend and remind yourself you are doing your best.  We are amazing in our own unique way.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash