MENTAL HEALTH REVISITED
It's a new year and we're leaving the nightmare year of 2020 behind us, and during that past year, I know that I'm not the only one who struggled mentally with the pandemic, and the other horrible things that were packing into twelve months. That said, it doesn't look like the pandemic is leaving any time soon and so we're faced with the possibility of more lockdowns and all the rest. But I thought that it would be a good idea to start the year talking about mental health. I've talked about it before here.
Personally, I have depression and an anxiety disorder. I have struggled throughout my whole life with both, and as someone with other chronic conditions, I've found that it's really hard to keep my head on straight when flares and other ill health is going on, especially when I'm trying to write as usual, and get books ready for release this year. I'm in the midst of edits for one and doing revisions on another, as well as my usual two drafting projects.
Mental health is a difficult subject to talk about from time to time, and there is a lot of push in the writing community to always be productive, and I'm seen, at least on some platforms as someone who's super organised and very productive, and while it's true that I get a lot done, I try not to put my mental health at risk by pushing myself way too much. A lot of the time, I'm only working for a short period of the day simply because I can't work any longer than that. My body, and my brain, just won't let me.
So what can I say that hasn't already been said? Taking breaks is a big thing, having down time, and having time when you can say: enough, I can't. I know that a lot of people work to deadlines, and I do the same, it's a way of making sure you reach a point when you need to. I have deadlines for editing and the like because otherwise it might not get done. But making sure that I have days when I can say: No, I can't do this, I need to take some time, is imperative.
On top of that, you need to remember to practice self-care. It's different for everyone and I've talked about this before during the month of NaNoWriMo (piece here and here) but it's especially important when talking about mental health. Everyone processes things differently, everyone is a unique person and what for one person might be too much, for another might not even register as a problem. Self-care is imperative when it comes to continuing through your writing journey and your career.
That said, I do have some tips for you when it comes to being overwhelmed. I'm lucky that I, mostly, have supportive friends and family, and while I know that a lot of people don't have that, I can give you some tips for dealing with those that aren't that supportive.
#1. EXPLAIN THE NEED FOR TIME OFF
When I'm talking to someone who doesn't really get the whole need for time off, especially when I'm on a deadline and it's mental health related, I will try and explain that it's not just me slacking off, but me needing a break for a day or two. It doesn't always work, but sometimes just explaining that it's more than the need for a break, and actually something that's having a knock on effect to my work will help matters.
#2. PRACTICE SELF-CARE WHEN YOU CAN
This is a big one, sometimes people don't always understand self-care, or they don't understand why I'm suddenly asking to go out for a walk, or have a nap, or something like that, but for me it's a way to get away from the deadlines and get away from the stress, and be able to just breathe for a moment. Read a book, or nap so that I can recharge.
#3. TRY AND HAVE SOME PEOPLE ON YOUR SIDE
This might not work for everyone, but if you do have one person who you can go to, ask them to help with the people who aren't supportive. Having someone go to bat for you, advocate for you can be a big thing, and if they're willing, and able, to do that, it can be a great way to get yourself the time you need.
So no matter how much work you have to get done, or what deadlines are looming, remember that you, and your mental health come first. You are a human being and you need to be sure to take care of you. Stay safe and remember that it's okay to need time.
Any questions? Lemme know in the comments below.
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