Welcome to some new thoughts about feeling and wellbeing, also with some inspiration to spark your writing experience – FEELING PIECES.
This past Monday was World Mental Health Day. More than ever, it’s important to talk about mental health because the pandemic, as well as current world events, are having a significant impact on how we perceive the world and how we feel. It is estimated that anxiety and depressive disorders increased by more than 25 percent in the first year of the pandemic.
So that is reason enough – not only today – to talk openly about mental disorders. Because it is still a silent suffering, it is difficult for people to talk about it; there is still prejudice, rejection or ignorance. Because this suffering is not openly visible and it comes in different expressions.
In this issue of FEELING PIECES you will find:
Who cares how I really feel?
Feel it, write it.
1) Two events for you
Feel it, write it. (October 13, 5 pm EDT)
A virtual FieldTrip organized by Creative Mornings with an introduction to therapeutic writing and also your opportunity for self-exploration.
How You Can Support Mental Health in the Workplace (October 19, 12 pm EDT).
A LinkedIn Live Event about the Mental Health First Aid organization that teaches members of the public how to help a person dealing with a mental health problem or preventing someone from gaining one.
2) Who cares how I really feel?
„How are you?“ That’s how most conversations start – even several times a day. And in most cases, I respond with, „I am ok. And you?“ This answer has become a reflex by now, because I know that my counterpart is often not interested in an honest answer at all or doesn’t even listen anymore. The question has become a natural part of our greeting, and the answer is of no consequence. I rarely have the feeling that the questioner is interested in the truth. The main thing is that everything seems rosy and positive. No one needs to feel obliged to worry or take further action.
Yet I am not feeling very good right now. I feel sad and depressed. I wake up in the morning with my fears and fall asleep in the evening exhausted under the weight of my circling thoughts and self-doubt. During the day, I am often unmotivated and just worn out. I would prefer not to even start most days, because that means I have to finish them.
Avoidance on autopilot
When I have particularly bad days, I think that it would never pass and I question everything; on good days, I think that I’m actually fine, though. And it’s these intense shifts – from sadness to euphoria – that make me stop taking my own feelings seriously.
On those days, I go into autopilot mode and just get through them. I avoid dealing with myself. I also avoid dealing with others. Because I usually don’t dare to talk about how I’m really struggling – not with friends, and certainly not with colleagues. For the fear of rejection, for the fear of overburdening them or for the fear of not being taken seriously. And that’s where my mistake lies: instead of paying attention to my well-being, I take others into consideration. Instead of asking for help, I withdraw.
Let’s talk about it
The other day, I was honest when I answered this question. On a day when I wasn’t feeling well at all and couldn’t keep up the facade myself any more. I had the feeling that this episode would not pass, but pull me deeper and deeper into the darkness. I opened up to Kyla – we met as colleagues, and became friends lately. And eventually this turned into a very honest conversation about personal burdens, our pasts, and we talked openly about our mental health challenges. At the end of that conversation Kyla said to me:
Once you have experienced and overcome the dark days, the next time at least you know that it will pass after a couple of days and you can then get back to your everyday life.
Since then, all conversations with Kyla start with a check-in on how we’re feeling at the moment. And it helps me to be vulnerable at work, and to take it down a notch on the hard days. And that’s important. Mental health needs to be a visible issue in the workplace by enabling self-care, by creating awareness among colleagues, and thus turning the colleagues into a strong, open and supportive community – so we’re not afraid to work less on the hard days.
Let’s be more sincere
By the way, Kyla wrote a Meltdown Guide to help you support your partner when they are having a panic attack or are extremely depressed. At the end of her text she writes, „Every person is different, and what they need in the moment is going to vary – so talk about it, gosh darn it.“
We should be sincerely interested in the people around us, give them the space to talk, listen to them, and offer support. An important approach is to replace the irrelevant „How are you?“ with questions that show an interest in the person and their well-being – but also, if we’re not interested, we shouldn’t ask.
What occupies your mind?
In order to get to know people more sincerely, to learn what is behind the facade and also to express this interest, I started to ask:
Which question occupies your mind the most and directs your life? And how?
What would you answer to these questions? Feel free to share your answers with me.
3) Feel it, write it.
This writing experience is about compassion. This is the ability to relate to another person by feeling what they are feeling and triggering various feelings in us. We support this person with our own feeling or express a certain feeling at a certain time.
It’s your turn to write
On my website you can find the FEELING PIECES Manifesto for therapeutic writing with some guidance for your writing process. I advise you to proceed step by step. Read one question and answer it – until you feel you have answered the question fully. Then move on to the next question. Enjoy your process!
We are compassionate not only with others, but also with ourselves.
Take a moment and listen to your inner voices. Write down what they tell you. Then think about what they have brought you so far or where they have led you in your life so far.
Imagine that you can fully feel the pain of others. Whose pain and suffering would you want to experience?
I hope you like this issue of my newsletter FEELING PIECES. Feel free to contact me and send me your feedback and ideas. And I’d be very happy if you spread the word and share this newsletter with your community.