A smile can hide a lot – Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s all too easy to hide behind a smile

All too easy to take someone else’s at face value, dismissing gut instincts or choosing to side with their down playing of the situation.

This week hasn’t been easy

I posted on Monday that it is currently Mental Health Awareness Week, a timely reminder, highlighting our personal health, when the globe sits in a period of uncertainty, transitioning to a new way of life the has yet to be decided.

No end dates.

No structure.

No clear path.

I’ve been back working from home for 3 weeks in my job, after 5 weeks off on furlough. I must say, they were some of the toughest weeks I have faced, the first two I was writing reviews, making videos, interacting with people online – I felt productive, I could see the fruits of my labour.

However, the following 3 are a blur. I know I ran, I know turned the Playstation on. I can’t remember much more besides that. I fell into a routine, created by each day merging into another, no clear definitions outside of sleep, with no apparent end in site, given it sounded like I would be furloughed into June. In essence, I gave up fighting, stopped resisting and allowed myself to be consumed by the situation.

Yes I was still functioning, I trained under Pyllon and Matt Hunter, took on a yoga challenge with Emily, fed myself, put the the bins out etc etc…. but I sat in the moment, with timescales loosing any real meaning, significance or bearing consequence.

That list of things we all wrote at the beginning of lockdown only grew.

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I grew up being told I was worthless My mother, in her wisdom, took it upon herself to do her best to unsettle me & question my position in all I did. Some of the lasts words she said to me when I moved out at 16 were ‘you’re worthless, you’ll never achieve anything.’ Since then I’ve been trying to find myself & continue to 14 years later. In all I’ve done, I can look back & see some part of my reasoning for taking up a sport, joining a team or organisation, speaking to others or looking into opportunities was for self validation In recent years #teampyllon has been my time free time investment, along with shooting races/events, riding & trying to be outside more My father, who I moved in with at 16 told me before he had brain surgery in 2009, that his biggest fear for me, is that I’ll never be happy. That I couldn’t find happiness in my day to day life. And, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of truth in the fact being genuinely happy comes rarely to me But, we can forge our own way & make decisions that create long term changes. We have the power to influence & build what matters most to us. It’s not easy, set backs are guaranteed, but little by little, consistency can lead to change I took this photo the other week, psyched to go out & run, when my most valuable possession was the ability to exercise outside. No perfectly crafted photo, just happiness & energy

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I became unconsciously reflective, thoughts that had been buried from my childhood and subsequent therapy began to surface once more, but in doing so, I could see how I’ve moved forward, rather than simply tread water.

The above post, wasn’t premeditated, nor did I think about how others would react, my mind wanted to let others know that there is hope, that you can overcome boundaries and hurdles others have placed in their way. I was and still am taken aback by the reaction it received, both on here, my private social media and messages.

Fortunately I’ve had a friend who’s checked up on me daily throughout these 60+ days of being at home alone, not being allowed to welcome anyone in. It was 51 days from when I last saw them before lockdown, to the when I could next see them after the rules were slightly adjusted. 50 odd days in isolation, in many ways in a luxurious position, with the internet, videos calls, messaging and social media at my finger tips throughout.

And yet, it has proven that true human connections, face to face, are necessary and incredibly valuable

You can’t substitute life for video calls.

After meeting up on Wednesday and then Pyllon Wolf Pact yesterday at 6AM, I’ve been left to do things alone once more and this feels harder. A team spirit and a face to face interaction with someone I know has really shown the significance they play in my life and I am someone who rarely meets up with anyone in my personal time.

Rather than the coming weeks getting easier, I am all to aware for some, they may feel more isolating, harder to process and remain in control throughout.

To all those who are in lock down on their own, who haven’t anyone to speak to, can’t say “hello” or “would you like a cup of”…… I feel your pain, your loneliness, your frustrations. Having spoken to many in my shoes, theres a sense of being forgotten about, as its a user group rarely spoken of, given at face value we aren’t vulnerable, we’re still smiling.

But I know we aren’t all smiling, nor do we really mean what that shield we put up is saying.

If anyone ever wants to talk, my email is jamesmackeddie@live.co.uk or you can get me on my Instagram DMs.

Let’s keep talking, Mental Health Awareness Week is Every Week.