Updated: Jun 7, 2021
Many of my blogs are reflections and thoughts I've written down over the years in a million notebooks and I've finally put my foot down and decided to post them all in one place. Not all of them are my own, but everywhere they are not I have always credited the author.
Firstly, hi again! I've taken a very conscious break for a while (read: four months) and I promise I have a totally valid reason for that. Unfortunately, that's looked like I've stopped writing - I haven't - so I thought I'd start off from the month I stopped in (September) with a follow-on blog for October.
If you don't know, October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening month and is focused on mental health education and depression awareness.
During this COVID-impacted day and age, I think this a very important month of the year to remember you need to rest and reset.
As Pacific Islanders, and most importantly, as Solomon Islanders - we don't address mental health enough. See my blog here where I start to explain why.
I heard a very savvy Solomon Island woman say very recently that as Solomon Islanders, we have two big strengths: our humor, and our high tolerance levels. As a result, we tolerate more, and we laugh off the bad.
Those traits have stood us in great stead in the past and saw us through a seriously damaging time in our nation's history, emerging from it on a conciliatory terms and moving past it (with a lot of help) together as a people.
Those same strengths are to our detriment when considered under different circumstances. Have you read Ceridwen Spark's article on 'Two Different Worlds' that talks about the lives of women working in development in Papua New Guinea? If you haven't, read it here.
I shared it with colleagues last year as I found too many similarities and it had me really, really triggered all throughout. What particularly struck me was the tolerance level we convey as a Pacific people - to many other things aside from systemic challenges we encounter not just in the workplace, but in our societies. Things that are known, but have not been properly acknowledged, so changes can take place.
As women, we are accepting, we are the peace-makers and we are the ones with the high tolerances for a lot - most times to the detriment of our mental health.
Which brings me to my second point of why I think remembering October's importance and relevance is vital for our well-being, as we take stock.
We are starting to weave a subtle message into our COVID-weary posts on self-care (especially amongst ourselves as women), that self-care is equated to fulfilling our basic human needs. PSA: It is not.
That message is damaging and we need to stop that.
Firstly, you're sending the wrong message to your significant other by telling him what 'refuels' you is a cup of coffee. There is a very real reason you are going to bed feeling drained - and waking up feeling drained still. The things you claim to be 'recharging' are really, actually not.
Following on from that, secondly, you're modelling toxic behavior to your children and others around who may look to you as an example. Is a power nap REALLY what you need to recharge after staying up all night last night with your newborn? If it's not, stop acting like it is... because then your friend that's just had a baby will mimic it; and so will your daughter when she is grown.
Time is non-refundable. As a full-time working mother, wife and daughter - there are different ways in which my time is spent so I have to use my free time with intention. Sometimes, at the expense of my other relationships, to protect my mental health. I can't pour from an empty cup - and my family most probably will go down in 'flames' if I did not take care of myself - and as a result, could not take care of them. The same goes for you.
As such, I do not equate going to the stores without my five year old as self-care, as I have seen some women calling their grocery runs 'mini vacays'. A full night's sleep (eight hours please, women need more sleep than men, thanks bye. Also, studies back me up on this and science doesn't lie) is also NOT self-care, honey.
Self-care is a pamper day (spa, nails, what have you) or a hot cup of tea and a good book - do you and your personality type boo! THAT is self-care.
Make time for it - as in put it in your calendar, tell your husband he's looking after the kid/s - and DO IT WHEN THE REMINDER POPS UP.
If you can't seem to actually get around to self-care, you should really consider what your toxic traits are. This study here outlines Eight Traits of Toxic Influence.
What is your ultimate toxic trait?
After some serious reflection and thinking of the toxic traits like 'pettiness' or 'not liking to lose an argument' etc etc, I think that my ultimate toxic trait is I give more than I mentally have - and burn myself out as a result. I knew this, so I took a break from the reading and the writing and concentrated on my family last year - and hey, I can say for one that it has more than served dividends. I basically quit for a bit.
Now, contrary to popular belief, I think quitting is not just for losers - it's also for winners. Girl, you have GOT to know when something is no longer worth holding onto - at the expense of your sanity and feelings of self-worth. That goes for anything from your mad hours spent maintaining your blog, to trying to be the best at your job, or impressing your in-laws, or holding onto a failing relationship, even your career goals. Know when it's time to let go, because winners also know when to quit.
So remember October, and take stock of your mental health. And when you are taking stock - think of everything that may be holding you back, and consciously pull away from them when they come up in your life - whether that is a person or negative behavior/situation.
Only good vibes from here-on out :)