Be Good Be Kind

I’ve suffered from depression. Of the people that know me, some are aware and others may find this revelation somewhat surprising.

I was first aware of my depression when I got divorced. Not from my wife, but from my business. A business I co-founded with a friend, who during moments of our 9 years of friendship, I’d say was a best friend.

I won’t get into the intricacies of what happened, but the effects changed me.

At times I am no longer in control of my emotions. It’s hard to explain but it makes difficulty out of certain activities, engagement and how I may approach them. I imagine there are a number of people at any given moment experiencing something similar. What is most painful for me, is the difficulty in explaining any reason for my reactions or expressions but I am lucky to have a very understanding and patient wife who loves me for who I am. Her enduring kindness saves me and it’s because of this that I remain hopeful.

Every year during Mental Health Awareness week, social media comes alive with activity about mental health. To acknowledge the struggles of mental health in a supportive way is key to not only de-stigmatise, challenge bias’ and preconceptions but to save lives.

Discussions about, being open to and being aware of your own mental health perhaps have never been more important, due to the period we now find ourselves in. Though we are sharing the experience of lockdown, we are all experiencing it differently. Pressures and challenges of being isolated by yourself, with a family of a partner and children are quite different and can vary in impact on our psyche in each of us.

The lockdown has heightened the awareness and I hope the conversation, focus and time afforded around mental health sustains itself for a much longer time beyond the week we generally see when the calendar tells us to raise activity and awareness.

“Never waste a crisis”

I’m not entirely sure of the origin of this statement, as many have been credited of saying this, but for me it’s apt. My big hope is that we use this time in helping each other and ourselves on our mental health.

I have used this time personally for a lot of reflection, reconnecting with people (and my guitar) and reducing my time of worry about my children, instead enjoying the gift of time together.

I like to think people have become more honest with themselves. I suspect and hope most people are similarly having moments of reflection and I try to imagine how that can be extrapolated into the world once we are out of lockdown.

For example, some of my friends are using their time to learn and embrace interests in hobbies such as food, creative projects and community, whilst twinning with their day to day job (one friend is making kombucha tea!).

I recently dreamt that in this period, many people reacted like my friends and created community goods from this new balance of work and hobbies. This world in my dream had created communities buying (kombucha) tea, bread and soap from small independents who were buying direct from community hobby enthusiasts. It was great.

Hobbies and passion serve as focus and value to many for their wellbeing and mental health and how great would it be if we came out of this period and people could not only preserve their hobbies and continue in benefiting their mental health but experience a community led wealth creation opportunity also.

Similarly, this reflective period may provide clarity on priorities within your life. I think some people will see who their true friends are, a realisation of the importance of family, examining relationships and work. I’ve found this clarity helpful in understanding the things I am grateful for and what I need to do when we come out of lockdown to ensure I don’t take things for granted as I was previously guilty of. All of which giving me a sense of renewed purpose helping with my mental health.

Everyone who struggles with mental health will be experiencing their own journeys and in the spirit of not wasting a crisis, it’s good to see an uptake in people sharing their experiences. What’s also important is we need to extend that to feelings also. It’s okay to not be okay, to take a breath and gather what you need to continue. It’s okay to ask for help.

I hope we can continue to be there for one another, support and show humanity to everyone that needs it. We have shown what is possible and we shouldn’t require a crisis to offer kindness.

Being kind is something we teach our children to be to one another, but it’s also important to remember to be kind to yourself.

You probably won’t talk to anyone more than yourself (or is that just me?) and kindness towards yourself in your work, your approach to relationships across all aspects will hopefully mean more space for you to breathe, make mistakes without deprecating your efforts — all helping to ease your stress and anxiety.

The challenges of mental health will be on-going. Some days will be harder than others, but know you’re not alone, share your feelings. ask for help and above all be kind to people and importantly to yourself.

Be Good. Be Kind. Stay Safe

By Man Wong