Exactly one year ago today I reached the awe-inspiring Everest Base Camp. The start of what would be eight months of adventure, travel and exploration. Whether it was coincidence, fate or serendipity, it perfectly aligned with what is World Mental Health Day.
What wasn’t a coincidence was my purpose for the pilgrimage to the Himalayas and beyond – I was ‘hiking for happiness’. I even created a donations campaign and raised a few hundred pounds for the mental health charity Mind. At the time, I was in a bad way and very aware of my spiralling, sad state of mind. I saw adventure as a ticket to a better place, mentally and physically.
In some ways, it worked. As I travelled I felt elevated to a whole new level of happiness, and that’s not just due to the altitude. I was absolutely living and loving life and the “social media smiles” were 100% genuine. But, as I was quite honest about this, there were also times I felt lost, lonely, depressed and downright annoyed at myself. I think that’s why I really struggled to keep up the blog – I was supposed to be figuring it out, but I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.
When I returned home, there was a period I felt almost worse than before the journey. I was absolutely rock bottom – back in my own little hell. But how could that be? How could I have been through all of that just to feel so out of control and down again? Because happiness isn’t something you go out and get and happiness can’t replace sadness. Both exist inside of you – anyone who has watched the amazing Inside Out by Pixar will know this. I had thought of my anxiety and sadness as the devil inside of me, following me – lurking in the shadows – around the world. But I’ve finally realised that’s OK. They’re part of me. These negative emotions are part of all of us.
World Mental Health Day is a great opportunity for us all to accept that we each have our devils. We all have sadness, anxiety, stress, fear, hate, anger and problems with self-worth. And some of us have days when the dark dominates the light in our lives – in ourselves – even if it is just for a minute.
Mental health like physical health has its ups and downs. It can be fit as a fiddle one day and completely burned out the next. It can be productive or destructive. Inspiring or debilitating. There’s no such thing as a perfect mind. It’s a work in progress for us all. It needs to be nurtured and nourished. And most importantly we need to give it time to heal when it is not at its best. A friend once said to me to acknowledge my sadness, give it space and own it. I couldn’t agree more.
Everything in life is a fine balance and rushing yourself to “feel better” will only lead to more problems.
Look after yourself people because MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS. A LOT.
Lots of love, Kat out of Hell (sort of) x