It’s a very tough time of year for me. 13 January represents three years since my Dad died. There’s nothing I can say or do to change that. It’s not a day to celebrate or mark, but it does represent a day where my life changed forever.
Friday 8 January was supposed to be my last day before a holiday with friends in Gibraltar. It won’t come as a surprise to you that this has been cancelled. I know I’ll be back there eventually, but for now, like most of us, I’ll be staying home.
I’ve decided to cancel my annual leave too – I am trying to save that for something that I love doing, traveling. I also recognise the value in taking a break. I have just had two long bank holiday weekends in December, so I will take a break later in the winter as and when I feel I may need one. How you use a break from work is down to the individual. I’ll do what suits my own wellbeing.
This week will be a tough one. I know I will be sad. I had planned to be far away from reality but sadly I’ll be home. Reality bites sometimes. As for the day itself, I may work, I may not. It will depend how I feel over the next few days. Working may give me a needed distraction given I cannot get away on this day. One thing I know is, I am not pressuring myself into anything for the next few days. There is enough going on right now, so, whatever I decide, it will be what is best for me.
The stigma around men’s mental health and wellbeing
Stereotype plays massively into the perception of our wellbeing. ‘Man Up’ is a phrase I hate. What does that even mean? Am I not supposed to express emotion, seek help, or do anything for my wellbeing because I am male? Statistically, there is a higher number of suicides amongst men than there are amongst women. One of the main things we can do collectively is stamp out gender-based assumptions or perceptions of wellbeing.
Yes, do not be telling me to ‘Man Up’.
I look out for others, start conversations, and stand up to make a difference. But I also look out for myself. I am launching a new wellbeing course following a test session in December. I wanted to roll this out on 7 January, but I decided why add extra pressure to myself, when I can give myself more time. It is one example of something that is entirely in my control, so I made a decision that best suits my wellbeing.
18 January is known as ‘Blue Monday’ – supposedly the most depressing day of the year. It seems appropriate to launch a new course on a day like that.
I am removing all pressure this weekend – no plans, nothing. A full weekend of time to myself, just to exist, just to be me. Sometimes, all that matters is yourself. Sure, we have responsibilities in life, but if I don’t look after myself, I’ll definitely not be in a place to help anyone either.