It has truly been an incredible few months writing and speaking to new audiences abut my experience of having Anorexia. The conferences that I have attended, at times have almost left me a spell bounded by the sheer passion of those around me to improve service for mental health and to engage in really constructive discussions.
But what’s been going on back at home? It’s all very well flying high above the fields, soaring even, but what about the drought below? And no I am not simply referring to the months of dryness we have been experiencing. In being so pres
ent in the sky, have I subconsciously neglected myself and failed to water the roots that need to be strong and withstanding?
Many of us are guilty of this. As parents, I guess it is part of the job spec, to care, nurture and continually give whilst not always receiving quite so much love back especially in those teenage months and years.
There’s that great film- “Yes Man’, where saying yes to everything in life brings an abundance of opportunities and
ew experiences but back to reality and saying Yes to everything and everyone might come with a price. Financial and timely in nature, perhaps but the repercussions of being the Yes man run a little deeper in that they form a degree of neglect that ultimately only you are responsible for.
Saying No, for me, often seems like the impossible thing to do.
For some reason, the act of giving, of doing and making right is what I feel compelled to do.
Now please pause here, because I am talking from a personal perspective only, professionally it would be really unwise to start saying no to work commitments because you’re learning to say No!
What I am eluding to, are those personal moments in life where the air around you seems to be getting foggier and thicker. Swallowing you and engulfing your mind. Where saying yes time and time again means that your head is a tornado of spiralling thoughts, deadlines and commitments. Where your diary is packed with sticky notes, crossings outs with a neck that hurts from answering another email on the go, or researching another funding opportunity whilst enjoying the daily commute.
How many of us, almost habitually wake up to a social media stream, or to a “to do” list that has probably doubled overnight. I know the first thing I do is check my phone, I reply and respond to others before looking after my own basic needs- I haven’t even been to the toilet for example!
Motivation in our lives is the one thing that drives us to achieve and do things in our daily lives but oddly my motivation first thing in the morning drives me to check my phone rather than attend to my physical self- what is that about!?!
Is there any fault to be attributed? I don’t think so, I certainly don’t blame anyone else for my own self negligence just as you wouldn’t blame a young child for not being adequately cared for by their carer. I am failing to look after my inner child, failing to nurture my soul and listen to my own needs.
According to Maslow 1943, there is a hierarchy of needs, but guess what those needs focus on? Yourself! Attending to the most human and basic of needs is the grounding foundation, from there our needs progress to those of security, friendship and love and then to esteem. We cannot be expected to move on to the secondary tiers of self actualisation and self transcendence unless we meet the most basic level of needs.
Is it any wonder that if we continually give to others, or lend our time to endeavours outside of ourself, that we fail to feel the strength of desire to meet those higher needs, to better ourselves and to work on our life goals.
I have so much excitement in my life, so much that could really change my path. Opportunities are plentiful and my future could be so thrilling- I mean we are talking book publication, freelance journalism- this list of possibilities is simply endless.
But thats just it, it’s a list at best. For some reason, my own mental health stops me from pursuing those secondary needs that would feed my soul.
I’ve never hidden the fact that I struggle with an eating disorder and whilst I am in a much better place, to an extent I still fail to meet those very basic needs of hunger and rest.
If those foundations aren’t in place, I cannot expect my body to propel itself further up that hierarchy to levels of transcendence and self actualisation.
Mental illness or not- for many, our fields of gold have suffered a period of drought that have left crop withered and wilting. Fruit is not plentiful and it definitely doesn’t taste sweet.
Dare to dream for for your basic needs, dare to care for yourself and lets get back to basics.
Say yes- to you.