We all have mental health.

We all have mental health.

In support of World Mental Health Day 2019 our Business Development Manager, Ben Priest shares his story.

It’s been just over three years since I felt the excruciating crunch in my left knee and my whole leg went into shock. Three long years since I last kicked a ball in anger and three painful years trying to get my body back to what it was. That night when my knee finally caved under the strain of over twenty years of regular, bruising sport, it was clear for everyone – team mates that night, my wife when I got home, colleagues the next morning once I’d dragged myself into the office, and friends and family who heard me constantly moan during the weeks and months after – to see that I’d done serious damage to myself and it was by no means a quick fix. It’s easy to see someone’s in pain when one knee has ballooned to twice the size of the other.

Three years on from that night I’m still not back to full strength. Although I exercise as often as I can, a mental block in my mind has stopped me from playing football again. Maybe I know deep down my knee wouldn’t be able to cope with what I want it to do, that I’m just petrified of the possibility of it happening again and I don’t trust my body. After the surgery to fully reconstruct my knee it was over a year before I could even break out into a jog and while those closest to me could see I was still in physical pain, I’m not sure many knew the angst and frustration I had swirling around my head.

My mental health surrounding the fitness of my physical body hasn’t been great. In general I would say I’m a laid-back positive person who has good mental health in general and fully appreciates and understands how lucky he is in almost every other aspect of his life, but this on-going issue is the source of my struggles. The constant questions swirling around your head spiral and thinking about the strain every day for that long eventually wears you down. You reminisce about what you were able to do, what you now can’t, jealousy consumes you as you watch others having all the fun and all you seem to think about is how you’re ever going to get back out there, if at all. The lack of knowledge and experience of going through an injury like that weighs on you too – I’m no expert, so how do I know if what I’m feeling is normal? Am I doing the right things to get myself better? When will I feel better? And before you know it, your mental health has become another issue for you to manage. I can only imagine how the professionals feel when it’s their livelihoods that are jeopardised.

For me it’s my knee, but for others it’s something completely different – the relationship with their partner, their parent’s health, their kids being bullied at school or online, pressure at work… the list is long and wide-ranging. Many of these causes are intangible. You can’t see it. It’s hard to spot someone who has a broken heart or a bruised ego or a mind which needs a helping hand.

Today is World Mental Health Day. While not everyone may be directly affected, we can all benefit from some straightforward and helpful self-care. You’ll have hopefully seen loads out there from other organisations who are promoting the importance of good mental health. This can only be a positive thing and the more awareness there is about why it’s so important to open up, talk, listen and share stories and issues, the better. Just this week the NHS launched their new scheme, Every Mind Matters, while there are more and more services popping up which offer support and help to those who just need some help or someone to talk to. It’s also becoming a greater theme in business with many of our clients dedicating days of the year to promote mental health best practice in the workplace, and it’s even starting to creep into school programs too – take my local secondary, Hove Park School, who have an open door policy and an integrated counselling service students can make use of whenever they wish.

It’s not always necessary for us to share absolutely everything that’s going on behind closed doors, but more often than not someone does need to talk, does need to share and does need help to find a way out of the fog. I have friends and family who have struggled and are currently struggling with their mental health. I only know because they’ve been brave enough to share their feelings and seek a remedy. Unfortunately, it’s far easier to hide an injury you can’t physically see. I know there are others out there I don’t know about, and those close to you that you don’t know about either.

Here at Ex Events we’re fully aware that we work in one of the most stressful professions and industries. We’re fortunate enough to have ways to help combat this and keep some perspective on our jobs compared to the likes of doctors, nurses, police officers etc, but also maintain good general mental health. We have a gym onsite and a boss who’s trustworthy enough to allow us to make good use of it during our lunch breaks without it affecting our productivity during the rest of the day. Being able to step away from our desks to burn off some of that stress and energy and come back refocussed on our jobs is hugely beneficial. Others in the office use the fantastic Headspace app to help meditate and relax. Simply switching off on the commute to and from the office by watching another episode on Netflix or listening to your favourite podcast can help strike a balance and re-set the mind before or after a long working day. Take that break away from your desk and go for a short walk round the block. It’ll help clear and refocus the mind. We all have our own techniques, but some out there need to find new ones, potentially for the first time.

We all have mental health. One day in the future the stigma of this will fade away and it’ll finally be seen as just as an important issue as our physical health. The more we talk, listen and engage with one another, the sooner that day will arrive.

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