‘New year new me’. This is a saying I hear often when the threat of a new year approaches. I always laugh at these words and bat them away thinking they are nothing but nonsense. Why does a new year have to be the making of a new you? Why can’t you reinvent yourself or better yourself throughout the year rather than waiting for the 1st day of the 1st month?
However, ahem, I do have to admit that 2020 saw me eat my words and laugh in my own face when I heard myself say to a friend; ‘this is going to be my year. 2020 is going to be the year of me. That’s right Jane, new year new me.’ To which I scoffed, gave myself a mental slap and got on with the day. But those words have been playing on my mind the last few weeks and as we head further into the year, I have decided the time has come. I have made a promise to myself that this year I will make the changes that I have been putting off and yes, it’s going to be a ‘new year new me’ kind of 2020.
The end of last year/beginning of this year didn’t quite go as planned for one reason or another. But I have always put these life changes into an experience bank which I just keep topping up and as cheesy as it sounds, I am a great believer in everything happening for a reason. Although it’s not been the easiest, I have popped it into that learning and experience bank, alongside everything else that’s in there from the last 30 something years of my life, and will use it to make me even stronger and more resilient to whatever else life flings at me.
The past few months my mental health has been pushed to the brink and tested in ways I didn’t think were possible. But it shook me up in a positive way and made me realise that the ‘path of life’ is bumpy as hell and can fork off and U-turn without a moment’s hesitation. But it’s what you choose to do with it that can make or break you. It’s how you choose to let your experiences affect you and it’s how you allow your mental health to work, or resist, in order to get you through whatever is currently happening in your life.
Now, as we head into March, I feel more at ease with everything and have grown so much in just a handful of weeks. Deciding to take a little time out for myself and making the effort to put me first for a change was a big part of me feeling 100 times better today than I did several weeks ago. It is so easy to allow yourself to break when you don’t see the importance of self-care. I ensured I didn’t break and instead, concentrated on walking with the group or on my own with Purdy, joined a kickboxing class (that's good for stress believe me!), leant on my family when I needed them and spent time with friends where I allowed myself to cry, be silly and/or laugh the cares away. I’ve put all I can into being more present within my new role at work and with my wonderful colleagues of Cornwall Museums Partnership, joined a mindfulness class, am eating better and decided that I could either make 2020 the year of greatness myself or, cross my fingers and hope for the best. I decided on the former.
Although the end of 2019/beginning of 2020 wasn’t exactly how I had planned, I don’t feel any remorse or regret that it didn’t pan out as expected. If I could change anything, there are certain people who I wished I could prevent from harm or pain, but I feel that these life changes are a good way to check in on yourself and re-evaluate your own mental health. Yes, there were times when I got so low that I couldn’t see a way out. But I knew there were people out there who would listen should I have needed an ear or a shoulder to cry on. And I made sure to use those ‘resources’ and talked and talked and talked. Sometimes I didn’t talk and just cried instead. Occasionally I didn’t need to talk or cry, I just needed company or someone to watch a film with. But whatever I was feeling, I chose to lean on someone when I needed it or took the time out on my own when I required grounding again.
I also owe a lot of my mental wealth to walking and it has been my go-to when I’ve needed time on my own. However, my mental health has been especially repaired when I organise a ramble and get to go walking with all of you wonderful folks around Cornwall. Having a purpose in life and to be able to meet so many of you along the way really does buoy me up, and that is what I wish for any of you who may also be struggling with your mental health. If you feel like you’ve nowhere to go or no one to turn to, I can’t offer you any advice or tell you how to fix it, but I can offer you a friendly face and a good ramble along the coast with a bunch of superb people for company. Getting outside and walking has helped me immensely and I am a strong advocate for green therapy; hug a tree, breathe in that fresh sea air, find an empty field and scream at the sky, go somewhere you’ve never been before – whatever you decide to do, just get outside and you'll soon see that there’s a whole world out there, right on your doorstep, just waiting to make you feel good.
I don’t claim to be a counsellor, I don’t claim to be a doctor or a professional in anyway. But I am someone with experience of how your mental health can dip and soar at any given moment and I am someone who knows that no matter how dark it can get, there is a way out, you just need to talk (and walk!).
To anyone who has felt their own mental health take a hit this year; you’ve got this.
Reach out to someone, anyone, and talk. Don’t think you’re a burden in anyway and don’t feel like you have to fix it yourself.
And to those of you who may not be suffering with your mental health, there are just two words I ask of you...
Below are some helpful numbers should you need to speak to someone and remember, you’re not alone and it really is okay not to be okay.
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Men's Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
The UK's largest provider of relationship support.
Cruse Bereavement Care
Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)