"Time to trust my signs"
In the spirit of this year’s R U Ok? Day theme (12th Sept); trust the signs. Especially the ones we try to hide from ourselves. Let people in. I was even worried about writing this and the stigma I felt I might receive.
I’ve noticed that for the last almost 6 months I have worked everyday. As in 7 days a week. You see I didn’t realise because I feel like what I do is a calling and it’s second nature for me to just do it. It doesn’t matter how much energy I’ve got left in me or if the email can wait until tomorrow, or if it’s 11.30pm and I’ve been up since 5am and someone needs to chat. I just do it.
Everything taking off as it has (which I am so grateful for), and the new pressures that come with that success means something is going to give. For me it was my brain health. I’ve seen a trend happening in my thoughts. My core hurts/insecurities have been a constant. The feeling of needing to prove myself to everyone.
Then it’s the stress of funding. That doesn’t come easy and for a grass roots charity like The Inner Ninja Foundation it only comes through the generosity of donations. People ask me all the time when do you stop and have a break? The reality is I don’t. The next question is how do you survive when the funding runs low? Well, it’s stressful to say the least. I volunteer 100% of my time to a role that is full-time. So I’ve become a juggler of life, work, motherhood and my brain health.
How I get through it. I focus on the end goal which is to save lives. Help the people who would’ve otherwise fallen through the cracks. I’ve also decided I need to force myself to take a day off over the weekend or sometime during the week. I choose to become CURIOUS. My body gives me all the warnings I need, I just need to listen to it.
The biggest thing I need to do though. I need to be honest. I need to be honest with myself, the people who care about me and the people who rely on me. Working in the mental health and non-profit sector can be draining. It can be even harder when you’re living with mental illness.
People forget that I’m a person living with high functioning generalized anxiety, clinical depression and mild ocd. That means that my brain at the best of times works over time. Add in everything else then sometimes when I don’t do the things that keep me well. It results in chronic suicidal thoughts. Crippling negative mantras. The worst of all is not being able to feel love. Not even from my son. My brain tells me that it’s not real, there is no way he could love me.
What I do know is this. It takes 5 positive comments to cancel out the 1 negative. My depression is a compulsive liar, it doesn’t tell me the truth. The notes left on my water bottles, the messages sent throughout the day, mean something. The look my son gives me when he sees me walk into a room. The pure joy I feel when I hold him. The thing I know the most and is the hardest one for me to believe is I AM WORTHY of the love I receive and the love I give.
You are also worthy of the love your receive. I’ve meet and continue too meet some incredible people along the way and for that I am grateful. I am thankful I work with an amazing board who help shape Inner Ninja into what it is and also have the same belief as I do in how we can help the community.
Last week I had a conversation with someone who said “Stef if you don’t share this, then who will? We all feel like this in some type of way but you have the gift of being able to reach people. So use your gift”. I want to remind everyone to keep using your gift whatever that may be, even when the doubt creeps in.
Live, breathe, embrace;