An important day is upon us, friends. World Mental Health Day is October 10, 2021! It’s a global initiative to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide and mobilize efforts to support mental health. This year’s theme is Mental Health Care for all: Let’s make it a reality. This message is brilliant! I created this platform to normalize conversations about mental health issues and treatment options. I have always wanted to #EndtheStigma surrounding mental health. #WorldMentalHealthDay is another chance for neurodivergent folks to raise our voices and to stop hiding in shame.
It isn’t good for you, you know.
So many of us are barely maintaining some semblance of normalcy in these pandemic times. Which raises the obvious question: What is normal anyway? Plenty of people have gripped onto denial as a coping strategy and refuse to accept any changes or challenges that affect their delusions about remaining in their pre-pandemic world. It’s a little sad and frustrating for the rest of us.
F— This Job!
The rest of us are trying to find our way in this strange new reality. We are looking at the standards society is shoving down our throats and saying, “No, thanks.” Studies have reported that 65% of Americans say that work is their number one stressor, and more people are quitting unfulfilling jobs than ever before.
I can’t say I blame them.
Why can’t office workers work from home anymore? Plenty of companies shifted to the digital workspace without major issues. So why do we need to go back to the sad place? It’s still a Panasonic outside, and you still want me to come to work and get mentally (and possibly physically) assaulted by customers that are dealing with the same heavy, unresolved trauma as I am? Please.
Alternately, some folks can’t quit. There are bellies to feed and mortgages to pay. Landlords are doling out maximum levels of nonsense lately. People are losing their homes, and it’s scary. Folks can’t quit their toxic jobs and are just pushing through to get by. Certain parties (I refuse to mention which, but we all know) have called these folks heroes and saluted their resilience in these challenging times.
The Bottom Line
Friends, I want you to know this. Doing what you have to do to survive is called survival. When the other option is possibly death, you take care of business. That’s all it is to it. Being resilient has nothing to do with that.
According to Oxford dictionaries, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. This definition is well and good, but I believe that it is lacking when referring to people. The global panorama has effectively changed the meaning of “recovering quickly” for millions. What happens when recovery isn’t an option. How do you maintain when your world crumbles to your feet?
Another definition of resilience is the ability of a substance or an object to spring back into shape. I think this one works better for humans. Creating resiliency is an ongoing process of healthy adaptation. We might not get back to where we were before, but we can adapt and survive. Hell, we can thrive in our new circumstances. This is what resiliency looks like to me—thriving amongst uncertainty.
Fill Your Cup
People start talking about being resilient when things are start going wrong or when changes are coming. It is important to flex that resiliency muscle often to build up your reserves. That’s what people are talking about when they mention filling your cup. You have to have something in the tank to be the best person you can be. If not, you can get overwhelmed quickly.
Cup filling looks different for everyone. Some folks need time away to recharge their batteries. Others might need a night of bar hopping for the energy fix they need. It helps to know what types of self-care work best for you. Personally, if I had to spend one night at a loud bar or a concert, I would need a week in isolation to recover. I love people but from a distance.
If a person isn’t moving ahead, they aren’t resilient. If you feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not making progress, you are probably in strictly survival mode. To work through this and start building those resiliency muscles, you need to take some time to look inward. There is a need that is not being addressed, thus the inability to make progress. Here is a shortlist of unmet needs that might be holding you back in work or in life:
- Information and Clarity: You need information that isn’t being given.
- Understanding and Empathy: You feel alone and need support
- Autonomy and Control: You feel powerless in your situation
- Connection: You have no reason to care about what you’re doing
- Options: You have no other choice
- Purpose: Are you making a difference
Stages of Change
Change is scary, I know, but it’s unavoidable. How you handle change affects your resilience in life. There are a couple of stages of change that you may find yourself in at any given time.
Denial—Something new is happening or needs to happen, and you refuse to accept it. A corporate shift at work is coming, or a breakup may be looming on the horizon. You don’t want it and refuse to accept it. Here is your wheel spinning, feeling stuck, or apathetic stage. Avoidance is a popular strategy at this point.
Resistance—The time is drawing nearer, and you are not pleased. You might be unsatisfied with the lack of control that you have over the situation. Everything set you off, or you may get very withdrawn and sullen. Some folks get argumentative and focus on every negative thought that comes to mind. People assign lots of blame and look for a target for their frustration at this stage.
Exploration—This stage is where things can get worse or better. Ideally, this is when people begin to look forward for new possibilities. They may start problem-solving or looking for alternatives. Is this job or relationship really worth all the frustration? Adaptation kicks in at this stage. Should I look for a new job/partner or stick it out. At this stage, people can get overwhelmed but for a different reason. At first, there were overwhelmed with the lack of choice. Here, we see people getting stressed out with the variety of options that are open to them. You can get stuck on how to move ahead.
Commitment—You’ve accepted the change. It may still not be what you want, and you still may not agree with it, but you believe that you can succeed despite it. It may be a matter of spite for you at this point, but you have embraced that spite and are moving ahead on petty energy. Don’t say you’ve never done something just because someone said that you couldn’t.
Moving through these stages does not have to be linear or pleasant. You might linger at resistance for quite a while before commitment knocks down your door. A person might bounce between denial and exploration for years. It’s all relative to your resilience and how well you can adapt to change.
It can be difficult. Growth is painful at times. However, the thought of moving forward in life can bring up lots of positive feelings and experiences. So fill your cup and keep taking those steps. You can do it!
Take care. Be safe. I love you!