It has been an emotional 7 days. Highs and lows aplenty, lots to think about and ideas bouncing off walls. It has also reminded me why I'm thankful that I have replaced reliance with resilience in my life and why as a result I'm mentally fitter than I have ever been.
One of the key topics I spoke about last Thursday on World Mental Health Day was the key difference between what I termed "assisted" vs "self-led" recovery.
The former is often very much a necessity at the time, and a plethora of external factors, be that medication, talking therapies, clinical interventions and even health apps, combine in a heady mix to provide that much needed crutch. But it is still a crutch. And while some people are able to reach a point of acceptance that the crutch will be a permanent part of their lives, others yearn for the day when they can throw it in the bin and move it from daily reminder to a distant memory.
For me personally, this pivotal moment when I decided I needed to ditch the crutch was also when I switched the rhetoric in my head from being about illness to being about fitness. Put simply I needed to move my mental state from unfit to fit, and the faster I did that, the faster I could ditch the crutch.
The second key point for me was also the crutch gave me a false sense of security. It led me to believe I was building resilience, when in fact all I was doing was building reliance. On it.
The immediate aftermath of ditching a crutch is that inevitably you hobble or limp about for a short while as you readjust, and its the most tempting thing in the world to reach for the crutch once again, but by not doing so, you in fact build your first impenetrable base layer of resilience. And as any good builder, baker or behavioural psychologist will tell you, a good base is absolutely key!
I have since that moment never looked back, I may need a crutch again in the future, but at least I now know when to ditch it. For now I am content with my "self-led" toolkit, it allows me to be empowered about my own mental fitness, and to take absolute ownership of my own mental health and wellbeing.
CBTEACH is not a drug, it's not a therapy, nor an intervention or an app. It's just a word. It reminds me daily that I need to connect with people, be myself, take timeouts, eat, be active, do something creative and develop good habits. I interpret each of these things how best works for me and in ways that enable me to continue building my resilience. It is the thing that has allowed me to continue to walk the path to greater mental fitness and overall wellbeing.
My advice to anyone looking to build their mental fitness, only you know if you need a crutch or not, and what it looks like, and only you will know the right time to ditch it. Keeping in mind a desire to pursue resilience and not reliance however, will empower you to make the best decisions for YOU.