Today is World Mental Health Day, so, this week, I’ve been reflecting on how my mental health has changed over the past two years.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that before my hospitalisation last January, I was suffering from crippling depression and anxiety. Thankfully, two years on from sitting in my GP’s office crying my eyes out whilst I was telling him about how low I felt, I feel happier than I have in years.
This year, the World Mental Health Day theme, set by Mind each year, is “Do One Thing”. For me, deciding on one thing that’s improved my mental health is kind of difficult. My doctors have told me that my brain injury directly caused my depression, so I suppose last years neurosurgery is the thing that has had the largest effect on my mental health.
Whilst having my brain abscess removed worked wonders for my health (both mental and physical), my surgery wasn’t the end of my journey to happiness. Whilst recovering from my brain injury, I could have easily been overwhelmed by the huge life changes I had gone through. Instead, I tried my best to take things one day at a time and focus on the positives. My life was hugely different, but at least I had a life to live.
5 Ways to Wellbeing
The NHS say that there are 5 ways you can improve your own mental wellbeing and I think I’ve managed to get most of them covered pretty well over the last two years.
1. Connect with other people
My support network have been nothing short of incredible over the last few years. After spending six months both this year and last year living with my family, I think it’s safe to say that we’re closer than ever. I came incredibly close to having to leave my family, so I’ve been relishing the chance to spend a little bit more time with them during lockdown.
2. Be physically active
Did I tell you I’m training to run a marathon? No? Why not go read some of my posts about running?
3. Learn new skills
I could play the piano before my brain injury, but I’ve lost some of my coordination since my surgery. It’s not a new skill, but it’s a skill I miss, so I’ve enjoyed working on some of my old favourites to rebuild my playing ability.
4. Give to others
Headway have helped me immensely since my brain injury. I feel honoured that they’ve picked me to be their marathon runner next year. I’ve raised more than four thousand pounds since I got my marathon place last year, but I’m hoping there’s more to come. It’s a year until I line up on the marathon start line, so I’m afraid my friends and family are going to have to put up with another twelve months of me asking for donations.
5. Pay attention to the present moment
When you go through an experience as harrowing as mine, it’s difficult not to pay attention to the present moment. I nearly died. That puts the things that are most important to me in to perspective. I’ve found myself living in the moment far more since my illness, and I think that’s one of the biggest contributors to my happiness.
So, does neurosurgery equal happiness? In my case, it certainly helped me along the way! You don’t have to do something as extreme as neurosurgery to find happiness though. It only takes one small step to kickstart your journey to better mental health. How are you going to start? Let me know in the comments!