“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”—Dale Carnegie
Little Miss Fire didn’t hide her mental health from me when we first met, in fact she was very open about it. She was the first person to ever do that with me and is largely responsible for changing my attitude towards it.
In my younger years I would frequently argue with anyone that a sport should be only something where the other team/person could have a direct impact on the result. The mental side of the game doesn’t matter to elite athletes (in my mind not in actuality) so shouldn’t play a part. Things that were a sport were things like rugby, football, boxing, Tennis etc. Things that weren’t included darts, 100m sprint or running over any distance, cycling etc. I don’t tell you this for any other reason than to show how I viewed psychology.
Of course I am wrong just as getting a 180 in darts puts the crowds on your side and gives you a boost so does the looking after the mental side of your footballers. Gareth Southgate brought in Dr Pippa Grange to work on the mental side of top flight football and the results speak for themselves. England went on to win their first penalty shoot out for the first time…EVER!
Mental strength is just as, if not more important as the physical strength in anything you do. It covers everything from motivation to willingness to eat. For someone who is suffering with a variety of mental health issues, it is sometimes hard to remember to take the medicine that will keep you alive, and I’m not talking about antidepressants. Little Miss Fire on her best days forgets her medicine and must be reminded. On a rare occasion we both forget and Little Miss Fire suffers for the next few hours or the next few days.1
Once you add in at the pressures of work, the anxiety ridden travelling, an unsupportive boss, the deadline that must be met and repeat it every 5 days in 7 it soon becomes the most pressing factor in your life. This becomes not the 5 days in 7, 8 hours per day it’s 24/7 and the attack on your mind is unrelenting. The situation that Little Miss Fire had to be put in for her to be able to pay her bills was destroying her work/life balance and her ability to look after her daughter. The person she was becoming made it hard for her to do the most basic of things like ordering a sandwich at subway2.
It doesn’t only affect that, when you are under this pressure your whole life suffers. Relationships with your partner, your friendships, your ability to look after yourself. Think of the most basic thing you do day in and day out and then imagine that you can no longer function to the point of being able to take a shower, move out of bed, exercise or even appreciate sunshine.
Once you have good mental health, a positive outlook on life follows. Your self-respect returns to you and you start realising that you can be successful if you put the work in. Looking after yourself, and by extension your loved ones, becomes easier and apart of daily life. You need to time to tackle it and wrest back control over your life. It took Little Miss Fire around 6 months to get back to her normal self. Currently she isn’t on any medication for mental health and this make me very proud of her.
I don’t say all this to showcase the bad points of work. Little Miss Fire and I met at work and have been happy ever since. Her daughter has allowed me to grow as a person in ways that I didn’t think possible. We have managed to increase my income to a point where Little Miss Fire doesn’t have to work and she is a better person for it. This comes at the cost of reaching fire in a more traditional way.
If you asked me to pay the same price again tomorrow, I’d do it in a heartbeat as your mental health is way more important than your bank balance.
1 This lead to a change in a routine which was only possible due to LMF not going to work.
2 Because it made her take decisions and the decision negatively impacted on her mental health.