Mental health is a real and growing issue in society and yet we still stigmatise it as though it is some weird “thing”. I want people to be able to say "I feel down" in the same way they say "I have a cold". I want to be a part of the change, to encourage people to break the stigma and normalise the illness as it really isn’t any different to having a broken arm or even cancer.
Hi! I’m Christina, a single mum of a 7 year old, part time uni student, part time office employee and mental health educator, or at least that’s what I’m aiming for in the not too distant future. I was humbled and delighted that Amy of My Tiny Wardrobe would ask me to write for her blog and be a part of #mumssupportingmums. In my life I have come across many people who try and bring you down, being a single mum, and being young, it’s hard to get anyone to give you a chance and so I was really grateful to be asked by mytinywardrobe to write for them.
Mental illness if not treated properly can cause death just like cancer can. If this is the reality, why are we still pretending it is something we can't talk about? I wanted to help encourage others to speak out. As I started completing my degree in behavioural science, i.e. why we do what we do and feel what we feel, I felt I had to share this important information about the way our brains work because I think knowledge is key in fighting this illness.
More recently I went through quite an anxious period. Looking back I can't quite pin down what it was I was anxious about, but at the time I just remember thinking that I didn't want to tell anyone, though I knew that there must be others suffering like me. I’d go to work, pretend like nothing was wrong and became more anxious and headed further down the rabbit hole.
Then one day when I was in the office and feeling rather glum, I was approached by a colleague who said she had a headache. I knew I had some Panadol in my bag and didn’t hesitate to offer her some. It’s a simple but important story because the simple act of helping someone took my focus off myself just for one moment and I realised there and then that I had to spend more time helping others. I knew I didn't have time to start a full blog and so hivelife was born. A little platform where I could share tidbits about anxiety and depression as I learnt more about it, where people could get a quick dose of science based information and possibly a little pick me up if that is what they need. Since starting hivelife, the community I have become a part of has been incredible. There are so many out there who either suffer from a mental illness or know someone who does, and want to help people overcome mental illness in a positive and non-judgemental way.
I think it is important for everyone to find and establish exactly what their purpose is, and quite frankly, that purpose won’t always be to obtain something of material value. Mine, for example, is helping others, another reason why I really can’t wait to become a qualified “behavioural scientist” and add value to the #mentalhealth community. Having a clear, defined purpose is what sees you through each and every hurdle that is thrown your way. I have had so many hurdles thrown at me, with the worst being when my dad suddenly passed away whilst I was 6 months pregnant with my son. Having a purpose has been and will continue to be what gets me over each and every speed hump. Having a purpose can also help those who suffer from mental illness as they can use it as their base each time they start to head into a funk. I’ll be writing more about having a purpose and how it can help you on hivelife in the coming weeks.
Knowledge is key
I know not everyone has the time or capacity to go and do a Uni degree and I want to share knowledge, the things you would learn if you did have the time to do a degree, in a simple and fun way. Hopefully everyone who comes across hivelife will find something of substance. Even the name represents what our minds are: a hive of activity, each little neuron is like a little bee, they all work together with no one bee being more important than the other (if you choose to see it that way) and we do need to nourish our brains with knowledge. A quote from the book Honeybee Democracy inspired me:
“the 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) of bees in a honeybee swarm, just like the 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) of neurons in a human brain, achieve their collective wisdom by organizing themselves in such a way that even though each individual has limited information and limited intelligence, the group as a whole makes first-rate collective.”
I enjoy sharing my knowledge of how our minds work. I believe that if more people were self aware and had even a small idea of why they might think or feel the way they do, they would be better equipped to be mentally tough, more resilient. Resilience, in particular, is an especially important skill to develop in children and it’s a path I am starting to journey down with my own son. I love turning complex ideas into a simple story or concept that everyone can understand and possibly relate to. I believe that no matter what level someone is on intellectually, if they are spoken to in their own “language” they will understand.
Readers are leaders
I really do believe kids (tweens and teens included) should spend more time reading books. Books excite and ignite the imagination and teach of the endless possibilities and help to turn our kids into leaders. To that end I couldn’t help recommending everyone get their kids to read the imaginative and evocative book “The Alchemist” – when they are old enough of course! Though the title makes it sound like something serious and complex, it is actually just a whimsical story of a boy who travels the earth searching for his personal legend. Not going to spoil the ending in case any of you decide to go read it, but we basically find that our personal legend is not something we need to search far and wide for. It really is something within us. Some people may need to go on a journey across the world for months, but luckily for me, I found what I was looking for in a book. Right here in my hometown of Sydney.
Check out my Instagram: @hivelife_
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org for any and all questions.