Someone recently told me that looking after our mental wellbeing is a bit like piecing together a jigsaw. No one thing, or ‘piece’ can solve the puzzle, but overtime, having a range of different pieces can all help add up to our overall wellbeing, and I guess in some cases prevent crisis.
I know that mental health can be such a difficult thing, having gone through complex PTSD, depression, and ongoing anxiety. So, know that I’m not trying to simplify the complex nature of being a human and the difficulties you might be facing in life.
However, what could some of these jigsaw puzzle pieces be? For me, at the moment, I’m recovering from some health issues that mean I’ve only been able recently to go out for short walks again – this was something I’d do regularly to help my mental health. I’ve spent much of the time being isolated, and this has been hard because our subconscious mind chatters away and is not always very helpful, especially as with anxiety the amygdala likes to throw up negatives, be they ‘memories’, feelings, impressions, images, words, all sorts of stuff. It’s not fun, as some of you might now. Let me reassure you, you’re not alone.
So, my jigsaw puzzle pieces might consist of connecting to people on the phone or by email, getting that bit of fresh air when I can (oh, how blessed I am to walk again), eating well, getting rest, watching something positive, being kind to myself, playing my violin when I have the strength, writing an encouraging blog post, maintaining my work and not overdoing tasks that might make me tired.
At the moment, that feels a bit limited – I’m not able to do all the things I used to and the lack of social connection affects me. However, for the past few years since the pandemic started, I’ve held to a verse in Scripture, in the Psalms – ‘This is the day that The LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it’. As humans, we find it very easy to live inside our heads, worrying about the future, ruminating about the past or getting confused by our subconscious minds. No matter what trauma we might have gone through, or are going through, there is still something in this day, in this moment that we can focus on and give thanks for, and that can help our brains focus on the good, which in turn helps with our mental health. We can realise that we still have breath, the gift of life. That we have bodies and minds, whatever they might be going through, they still ‘work’ to a degree. Today, I am grateful that I had a safe and warm place to sleep, food to eat, clothes to wear, the health to get up and do things for myself, the ability to walk again and go for a walk by the riverside even though it was a bit windy and rainy, the chance to watch my church online even though I can’t be in community with people at the moment, the chance to choose my thinking and retrain my mind, and work on focusing on the positives, clothes to wear, and being able to feel and look nice after having been unwell, people to reach out to to encourage, the Living Word to read. Knowing that in Jesus I am saved and secure and never alone.
I am aware that mental health is precarious, and that mine can be too. But this is just one little jigsaw puzzle piece that I share with you today, whatever your brain and mind might be doing or ‘telling’ you. Lift up your eyes, focus on something you can be thankful for, know that one puzzle piece won’t solve the whole puzzle but it can help alleviate your distress a little today. Today the sermon online was about the Peace that Jesus Christ gives to us, one that the world cannot give, and I am thankful that He has rescued me and lifted me from pain and darkness and self, and forgiven me and given me a future and hope in Him. Yes, I still struggle, but I can say that He Is my Peace, and He will hold me fast.
Perhaps that is our greatest need – to be known and loved and taken care of…eternally. I hope you find that you can have some comfort today, whatever puzzle pieces you are working with, and I hope you know that you are not alone. Many people are silently going through similar to what you are and ‘putting on a brave face’….but perhaps you need to reach out and tell someone, and that is a brave step in itself. I hope my ramblings might bring some comfort and help to someone out there. Peace. x