29th June 2020
At the start of lockdown in Scotland Jess, also known as the Recovery Ninja, gave us her perspective on how she was protecting her mental health as the world around us changed. In her latest guest blog, Jess reflects on how her recovery from experiencing anxiety and OCD, is helping her as we all enter the changing phases of the pandemic.
The lockdown across the country has been a strange time for all of us. We all have mental health, and whether you have experience of a mental health condition or not, there has been a complete change in daily life which has impacted everyone in some way. I believe it has brought out a renewed discussion about mental health and the importance in being aware of our whole wellbeing.
Sitting with the unknown of how we are going to go forward from this, into each new phase and the implications for functioning, working and socialising, is not easy. However, it is important to acknowledge this and any thoughts and feelings that may come up.
Having a better awareness of our minds then puts us in a place to identify and take action on the relevant help.
In some ways, I have been used to the restrictions of OCD, but now in recovery I have learnt a different way to deal with my intrusive thoughts, to challenge and sit with the unhelpful anxiety and to know what helps me - which is why I've felt better equipped to deal with this in the lockdown situation. The insight of having to adapt is something which I know I share with people who have had experiences of mental health conditions, and that is where my idea of 'being a ninja' in managing mental health comes in.
It's not about being strong all the time - the strength is in battling the challenges in our minds and speaking out about it. And as we move into the next stages of lifting lockdown, and try to adapt to a new way of living, I hope this awareness can increase because it would really help shift things in our society to tackle stigma and make services more accessible.
A project that I was working on prior to the lockdown was an A-Z guide of what different mental health terms mean to me, something that has only cemented my belief that mental health education is key to expand on in Scotland. With schools far from returning to normal, homeschooling becoming a rather wearing topic, and with university and job opportunities seeming so uncertain, as a young person I know from my experiences that this is the best time to speak with children and young people about their mental health. And no, it is not about digging out a psychology textbook or lecturing - it is about simply introducing a different dialogue with the younger people you know, as this lockdown has made us all begin to realise what the really important things are in life.
So, no matter your age - look after your wellbeing, talk to those closest to you to ask how things are and let's add the demand for better mental health awareness into the mix of change going forward.
Thanks so much to Jess aka the Recovery Ninja for sharing what has worked for her when it comes to looking after mental health and wellbeing. If you ‘re looking for more information we’ve created a dedicated online information hub, providing advice on protecting your mental health during these developments. Visit samh.org.uk/coronavirus