A ‘Staycation’ With Pirates And Pedicure


“So, how was your vacation?”

Whenever you return from time off work; be it a week or more, you can bet you’ll be answering this question or some version of it upon your return. I know where I work, I hear the question a lot, and I overhear many of the people who get asked the question talk of their great trips to foreign lands. Somehow however, when someone says they stayed at home and relaxed, they tend to sound apologetic as in, “I just stayed home.”

Now there’s a lot to be said for the so-called, staycation. I am back to work today after having been off for a week. I really enjoyed the time my wife and I spent together this past week. While we don’t have a, ‘memory of a lifetime’ to paste into some scrapbook, the time off and our choice on how to use it did for us exactly what we hoped it would do.

It was nice I must say to get in a lot of the little things we enjoy: reading for pleasure, gardening, day trips together and one with a friend, visiting the farmer’s market, dining out, a trip to a local Spa and we had some fun going to a few open houses and checking out some travel trailers. Not the stuff of adventure magazines or destined to win the, ‘how I spent my vacation’ essays one always seemed to have to write upon returning to school as a child. Still, our vacation and our choice how to use it.

I tell you this; we both return to work entirely rested and satisfied with how we spent our time together. Recharged in body and mind, we’re ready to return to work. While our time off was rejuvenating and yes I admit I commented, “Imagine this being our everyday reality upon retirement”, we’re both ready to return to work. One comment we didn’t make – neither of us – is, “Where did the time go?” No, the days were long and we got a lot out of them.

You know it’s funny and somewhat ironic when I think about the fact that there’s always that person it seems at work who on their first day back talks about needing a vacation to recover from their vacation. They packed in so much and it was go, go, go right from the start to the end that they didn’t actually relax much. Then there’s the person who inevitably ends their vacation with being absent the first day they are due to return to catch up on jet lag.

I must say I truly value the time off work. There are some people working contract jobs who don’t get a vacation at all. They have a prescribed start and end date, working perhaps in the hope of extending the contract they have, taking time off when they can’t string together consecutive, seamless contracts. The time off isn’t the same however from the standpoint of rest and relaxation, as for many they are not sure about how long they will be out of work. The not knowing makes spending time and money for pleasure somewhat difficult as ever-present is the notion of needing to find more income.

This is a curious thing isn’t it? The notion of having, ‘earned’ one’s time off. Sitting side by side in many offices you could find one employee working a contract and another working salaried. The two would certainly seem to be doing similar work to the casual observer, however only one of the two is building up their vacation entitlement. The other is working out their contract. From the work engaged in, how is it then that one is earning their vacation while the other is not?

While off, one of the extravagances I indulged in was what the spa referred to as their, ‘ultimate foot massage’. When I was diagnosed last year with diabetes 2, the Doctor and the Nurse Dietician in the Diabetes Unit both recommended taking particular care of my feet. So, over this week break, I did two things for the first time; a foot assessment at a foot care clinic and followed this up with a first-rate foot cleansing and pedicure (minus the nail polish!). Well a little pampering to be sure but really it was all about making sure from their trained eyes nothing was amiss. It felt good – and isn’t that what vacations are supposed to do? Make us feel good!

It took no time to get through a re-read of Treasure Island; catching up with Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins from my childhood.  An easy read in a comfortable seat under the shade of the gazebo next to the waterfall in the backyard. Love my books and the places they take me. Yes, sometimes the weeding and watering didn’t take precedence.

This is work/life balance; well, one example of it at any rate. Time off is essential; it restores one’s perspective, gives time for reflection and focus. The body as well as the mind get a chance to align with whatever you find fuels your soul.

Wherever you live and whatever time of year it is as you read this, my hope for you is that you get time to spend doing what you want to recharge. Be they big plans or modest in nature, may you find that work/life balance yourself.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Benefits Of Work


“Why would I want to work?”

I had a man ask me this question yesterday. I couldn’t tell if he was be sarcastic, flippant or genuinely asking for a couple of seconds. However I tried, the usual visual cues weren’t there for me to pick up on. He didn’t have a wry smile, wasn’t folding his arms across his chest in defiance or really give anything away; so I took him as seriously asking and found out shortly I’d been right to do so.

After I gave him some of the many benefits and reasons people work, I started to think that there had to be others like him. So, this is for the ones who really don’t understand why people would choose to work. Please add your own reasons in the comments section.

  1. Purpose. Waking up in the morning feeling you’re contributing to something, or making the lives of others better in the work that you do gives one’s life meaning. Without purpose, a person can feel aimless, lost, lacking direction. Waking up and wondering what you’ll do with your day is nice occasionally, but as a fixed routine can lose its appeal quickly.
  2. Contribution. This can be a hard sell to someone who feels that the world owes them a living. Contributing your skills, experience, knowledge, wisdom, failures and successes with others actually gives back in many ways. If you don’t like the current way things are done in some area, get involved and work to change what you see could be better. Change from within and not from a distance is very effective.
  3. Learn. When you learn you grow, when you’re ripe you rot. Learning doesn’t just happen the first few days and weeks on a job. Some of the smartest people I know realize that learning happens every day in some way. Whether it’s in some small way or a huge change in how one does their work, learning never stops. When you’re not working, this can be impossible for some to grasp.
  4. Responsibility. Being responsible isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, this accountability can be extremely beneficial. A worker is but a part of a larger group of workers, and mutual responsibility means showing up on time with regularity and punctuality. It means being depended upon and counted on to add to an organization and in so doing lighten the load of others; bring your gifts to projects and make things better.
  5. Income. Not number one; but yes work provides income. Income alone isn’t what it’s about but rather, what income allows you to buy or invest in. Living where you choose, in accommodations that don’t just protect you from the elements but enhance your appreciation of the world around you. Money gives you the means to travel, eat better, visit those people and places that add to the richness of your life.
  6. Good mental health. Work is good for your brain; your mental stability; your intellect and what it wards off. Work and you stave off some anxiety and depression. You get more control of yourself and the world you experience. As you work, your brain cells get stimulated, you enrich your days and have things to talk about at day’s end that you’ve accomplished, struggled with, experienced and been a part of.
  7. Self-Confidence. Work and you’ll feel good about yourself. There’s that first pay cheque, the moments when the boss tells you you’re doing well, you complete something without having to be shown how, you create a product or give great service. “I can do this!” is a great feeling.
  8. Inclusion. You ward off isolation when you work because you’re part of a company, you work on a team, you interact better with those around you; feel like you’re a part of a group and yes, you are needed and appreciated. Whether a second family or not, your co-workers can become people you actually care about, and yes, they’ll care about you too.
  9. Self-control. When you work, you decide how much to spend and how much to save. You decide what to buy and what to save up for too. When someone far away is ill or you just want to see your family who live far away you have the means to get there. Save some each pay and you’ll have the money to get by if there’s a downturn in the economy, you get laid off, or you want to change jobs.
  10. Physical health. Work means physical exertion and movement. Not only is that good, but if you get ill, you’ll either have a health plan through an employer or have the money to invest privately in health care if you choose. Now you have the money to eat healthier foods, eat regularly and eat guilt-free.

There are many reasons to work and these 10 aren’t the entire list. Yes, there are people who don’t work and depend entirely on the generosity of others to live. They work in a very real sense too of course; some begging for handouts, others collecting beer cans and bottles to exchange. Some live on social assistance, dependent entirely on governments and taxpayers to decide their income. It is possible to go through one’s life and not ‘work’ in the traditional sense.

Work doesn’t mean you’re miserable for 7 or more hours a day. It is for many a rich, rewarding use of their time they appreciate.

Sure You’re Ready To Work?


Have you ever decided to take a job offer and then only a short time into the job had to quit? It didn’t work out as the positive experience you believed it would be.

Some people are so focused on getting a job, all they do is scan job postings, send off resumes and cover letters, go to whatever interviews they land and then take the first job that comes their way only to regret it. If you’re doing exactly this now, you might want to re-think what you’re doing to avoid future disappointment.

Of course, I know why people do the above with such fervor; they need money to pay bills and stave off exhausting their financial savings. There is a lot of stress watching the money go out of one’s bank account week after week, month after month. All the money you’d saved up over a period of years can slip away pretty fast when additional money dries up and you’re not used to a self-imposed strict budget. Taking a job; any job mind, shores up the leaks and hopefully balances out the exiting funds.

The problem which can surface however is that a person takes a job that they haven’t really investigated much before applying. Then with the money problem addressed in the short-term, now people look at where they’ve actually put themselves.  It can often be the case that they then say, “What have I done? This isn’t right for me at all.”

What happened of course is the desperation to just get a job of any kind is in the past. Then with that out-of-the-way, attention is turned to the job and that’s when things can seem worse than when the person was out of work altogether. Knowing they can and must do better than the present job, often people quit so they can put 100% into finding a job; the right job this time.

To increase your odds of getting the job that’s right for you, there are a number of things you can do now while unemployed. For starters, and please don’t ignore this as unnecessary, address your health. Looking for work is taxing on the mind and the body. Eating properly and getting out of the house to take in some fresh air and get some exercise while walking around the neighbourhood is essential. Not only will you feel better, if you go for a walk around a block or two a couple of times a day, you’ll also focus better on the job hunt when you return.

Eating healthy foods and moving will fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to ward off excessive weight gain. At the other extreme, eating as little as possible to save money could cause you to lose more weight than is healthy. If you’re fond of the bubbly, watch your alcohol intake. You wouldn’t be the first one to increase drinking to numb some of the stress of looking for work, but what could seem like a good idea at the time could turn out to be a bigger problem than you can handle and then knowing you shouldn’t be drinking so much can for some have the impact of drinking more heavily to actually feel better.

Another thing about starting a new job when you’ve been out of work for a very long time is an abrupt change in your routine. It might not sound like anything you can’t handle, but suddenly having to get up at a given time, catch a bus that runs on a schedule and be seated ready to go at 8:30a.m.  could present a problem you hadn’t considered. Why? Could be that over the extended time you’ve been out of work, you’ve slid into the habit of getting up at 9:00a.m., and with breakfast over after simultaneously watching the news on T.V., you haven’t really got rolling most days until it’s closer to 10:00a.m.

Hey it’s understandable that your routine changed without the need to be somewhere and be accountable to anyone but yourself. I get that and so do employers. However, employers have zero tolerance for people who show up late for work, and if you’re not disciplined, you could find yourself hearing the boss tell you, “it’s just not working out” as they tell you you’re done.

Variety really is the key to staying positive and engaged in your job search. A majority of people think looking for a job means sitting in front of a computer screen for 7 hours a day, 5 days or more a week and applying for job after job. Wrong on so many levels.

A successful job search also includes getting out and introducing yourself to people, networking if you will. Call on people you want to be your references and walk into the organizations you wish to work with. Meet people, feel the atmosphere, get some literature, make some phone calls and ask about their challenges and priorities. Ask to meet with people who hold the jobs you’re after and pick their brain over a tea or coffee.

As part of your computer time, read reviews of what others are saying about the companies you’re interested in on websites like Glassdoor.

You want a job that provides income and you’ll be a good fit with right? Good. Take a breath and let’s get going.

 

Re-Inventing Yourself?


Whether by choice or necessity, have you ever, or are you now in a place where you’re re-inventing yourself? You know, moving in a completely new direction from what you’ve typically done work-wise in the past. Depending on your circumstances, this can be an exhilarating time of hope, possibilities and uncharted exploration, or it can be fraught with stress, desperation, anxiety and worry.

So, is it starting to sound like I’m speaking to you directly? There’s actually a good chance that this resonates with you to some degree because all of us have times in our lives where we assume new roles. This is important to both hear and comprehend; all of us go through this.

It’s true you know… becoming a teenager then an adult, being a parent or grandparent, the first job where we joined the ranks of the employed, leaving one job for another. There are all kinds of moments in our lives when we transitioned from one role to another. But somehow, changing your career at this particular time in your life seems markedly different from all those other transitions. This is magnified when you feel forced to make the change instead of initiating change out of a personal desire.

For a lot of folks, the anxiety is stirred up wondering what to actually do. It’s like that year in high school where you had to make a decision on what you wanted to be when you grew up. As awkward as that period might have felt way back then, it pales in comparison to the present where you’re no longer 17 or 18 years old with your entire work life in front of you. No, now you’re looking at yourself and wondering, “what am I going to do at my age?”

For the men and women who have been in positions of labour their whole lives, this idea of needing a new vocation could be brought about because their bodies are no longer able to take the physical demands of their trade. While the body is refusing to do what it’s always done, the brain is fully capable and stress is caused because the work they’ve done is only what they know. It’s like laying bricks for 37 years and then the back and knees give out, so the Bricklayer struggles trying to figure out what else they could do.

Sometimes the body isn’t the problem though. Sometimes the prevailing problem is of a mental rather than physical issue; the need to change careers is however just as valid. For many, there is still the notion – completely wrong in my opinion – that a mental health issue needs to be concealed, while a physical issue can be more easily shared and understood. So the person with two bad knees and a back issue gets empathy and understanding while the person with anxiety and depression draws more skepticism and doubt. As a result, some people hide their mental health challenges as long as they can, thereby making it difficult if not impossible to get the very support and help they need to move forward.

A good place to start when you have to re-invent yourself is taking stock of what you have on hand. Imagine yourself on a ship with your destination fully known and suddenly waking up one day to find yourself shipwrecked on an island. You need to survive so you take stock of what resources you have. You don’t go off exploring your surroundings without first taking your bearings and assessing your needs and your resources.

Using that analogy, you’ve gone through – or are going through – the shock of an abrupt change in your work life. The future is going to be very different from your past and while you understand this on an intellectual level, you’re at that crossroads trying to figure out in what direction to move. You’re worried perhaps that with the limited time and resources you have available, you can’t afford to just move in any old direction in case you choose wrong. If only you could look ahead and see the rewards and pitfalls in all directions and then decide. Life doesn’t always work this way though; as you more than anyone has just found out because you didn’t foresee where you are now in your future just a few years ago.

So take stock of your skills, experiences both paid and volunteer. What did you like and dislike about the work you’ve done in the past. What are you physically capable of and mentally able to take on? It may be that the very best thing you can do is give yourself the gift of a short break. Yes money might be tight but if you can free up funds for a short trip to somewhere you feel good in, you may do wonders for your mental health.

Getting a booklet on courses from a community college or university might enlighten you  to jobs you haven’t considered; and you might discover funding assistance at the same time to go back to school if you wish.

This crossroads you’re in could be a blessing too. You’ve got time now to really think about what to do with your life; something some people who dislike their current jobs would envy you for. When you’re ready, and definitely not before, reach out and share your thoughts with someone you who’ll listen with an open mind.

All the very best as always!

What Are YOU Waiting For?


Whether it’s deliberating on returning to school, putting off seeing a Mental Health Counsellor, having a mammogram or colonoscopy, getting in shape, taking that trip, saying I love you or any number of things you could be stalling over, I simply ask you, “what are you waiting for?”

Is it the right moment? When do you see that happening? What are you waiting to fall into place so the time is right?

Do. It. Now.

We know that time doesn’t wait; every powered clock ticks by and the second that just elapsed will never come again. Yes there is an urgency and you’ve been lucky so far in delaying taking action. So far, things haven’t significantly changed robbing you of the opportunity to do what it is your mulling or fretting over. However, with every passing second there is an increasing possibility that something can and will change, stealing your opportunity and that possibility will be replaced with regret. Is that what you want?

Consider: you might know someone who waited too long to tell another how much they were in love. Then what happened? In waiting for just the right moment, a third person entered in and with just a little more urgency said what they did not. Opportunity gone.

Maybe you know someone who said, “I should have gone back to school but I was waiting until I earned more money first…now I’m too old. There’s people who planned on traveling abroad and seeing the world but never actually went anywhere because instead they bended to family pressures and stayed home. Perhaps you know someone who always wanted to be a (fill in the blank) but put off really going for it because it just seemed too hard – and that disappointment still haunts them.

Too much can happen while you deliberate. People move or die, jobs get filled, prices rise, doors once open close, responsibilities surface, needs change… you get the point. Do it now.

I have to tell you that one of the biggest mental blocks I hear over and over in my job is, “but I’m too old now”. Who says so? is my reply. Most of the time the one person holding them back isn’t some Hiring Manager at a company they want to work for, nor is it someone in Human Resources refusing to advance their application. No, more often than not the person who thinks they are too old is the person themselves. Here it is in a nutshell: if you think you’re too old…you are. And until you change this crippling mindset you will continue to be.

How sad it is to be locked in some prison cell of our own making with the key in our hands and lamenting to anyone passing by that you just want to be released. The key (literally in this scenario) is in your hands! Open the door!

You always have choices: 1) Do it now. 2) Do it later (maybe) 3) Don’t do it.

If it’s important enough that you lie awake consumed with wanting badly; if it’s your every waking moment’s thought; if in your most personal and intimate moments of reflection it just keeps surfacing, don’t you owe it to yourself to make it your reality? At least to try?

How long is your lifespan? You have no idea of course. You imagine yourself living a set number of years, and you hope those will be in decent if not good health. Your time is finite. From the moment you were conceived and later breathed that first gasp of air your clock starting ticking and will at an unknown point suddenly stop without warning. Yours might stop at 34 years, 16 days and 23 minutes. Maybe it’s 51 years, 11 months and 6 minutes, 18 seconds. Of this you have no absolute knowledge or control.

What you can control is what you choose to do with the time you have now. What is important to you? Who are the people important to you? What are the causes you care about, where are the places you want to see in-person, what are the changes in the world you want to bring about that are important to you to make it a better place? What is the education or job you always wanted?

For if you knew you only had 2 years left, would you spend your remaining days going about life the way you are now? Would your answer change if you had 6 months? What if you knew you had 60 years left? Would having all that time left cause you to put off what you really want today?

Now you may be someone who wants to get going but can’t figure out what it is you really want. Maybe that’s at the core of your stress; the indecisiveness and associated inaction. DO SOMETHING. Nothing happens until you take action. So take a chance and learn from the outcome. Register for school, tell somebody how much you mean to them, go to the gym, buy the house, get on the plane, mend the feud that’s kept you apart, take the course, say yes instead of maybe.

With every passing second, you’re rolling the dice and gambling that they’ll always be time in the future to do what you want to do but lack the courage to do now.

Will your life be punctuated with a period or an exclamation mark? Hopefully not a dreaded question mark.

 

 

No Applications? No Interviews. No Job. Simple.


The best way to get a 100% guarantee that employers will continue to reject and decline to offer you interviews is to stop applying for jobs altogether. Do this and you’ll be done with frustration, stress and the cycle of applying with hope only to taste the acrid bitterness of rejection; then to reapply again with optimism etc. Yes, give it up now and escape from voluntarily setting yourself up for ongoing disappointment.

Of course if you follow that opening advice, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands. Time that initially will seem like a wave of relief washing over you. After all, no more scouring the internet and job boards for minimum wage, entry-level jobs. No more fruitless networking meetings, resumes to tailor to specific jobs, no more need for LinkedIn; the freedom to post online whoever you are, whatever you want without a thought or care about who sees what. No more emails to send, nor the need to be checking your phone for possible invitations that never come. What a relief indeed!

The downside of course is that all this free time doesn’t exactly stop your brain from wandering back to thoughts of employment. Without a job or even looking for one, you’ve got about 7 hours a day, 35 hours a week, 140 hours a month etc. that you wouldn’t have if you were working. How many of those hours are you going to fill productively doing other things? Reading, traveling, exercising, watching television, fixing things around the home; all good in their own way, but for how long are these things going to keep bringing you the happiness they do now?

The most obvious stress for many is where does the money materialize from to allow you to keep living where you do now? There’s the rent or mortgage, food, utilities, repairs, transit, clothing, your morning jolt of caffeine. What about entertainment, unexpected expenses, illnesses, new glasses, dental visits, prescriptions, the virus protection on the laptop that needs renewing? Just a small list… So you start getting frugal if you haven’t already; thinking strategically about what you can do without; what you’re willing to sacrifice. That gets stressful after awhile doesn’t it? I mean, saying you’ll do without item B because you won’t give up item A only to find that in two month’s time your ‘must have’ item A is something you have to part with to keep item C. This is living?

Sometimes all these decisions just seem overwhelming right? Sure they do. This is when some people turn to self-medication which never really seems to have much of a lasting affect. Oh for a while they shift your thinking and provide short-term relief. In the long-run however the medications wear off and you’re back dealing with the original thoughts and you’ve added the lower self-worth and need for self-medication to your list of things to be disappointed with in yourself.

The thing about stressing while in a job search is that you’ve got one thing to hold on to that makes the frustration of a job search worth the effort; there’s the hope of success. Get into the interview stage when you’ve had a rough time even having your applications acknowledged and you’re making progress. Have a good interview or two and you feel the momentum building. Build on the momentum and you find your making the short-list; getting down to the last cuts. Get the job and all that frustration leading up to this moment suddenly becomes worthwhile. You appreciate the job more when you get it, you experience a moment of gratitude and appreciation for what it took to get you there.

All those expressions about putting in the hard work to get what you want, keeping your eyes focused on the destination or anything worth having is worth working for etc. suddenly have real meaning. You earned this one.

Gone are the days when many people got the first job they applied to or jobs just dropped into their laps without really even looking. Gone are the times when your good looks, natural charm, sexy clothing or mom could get you the job just for the asking. Well for most of us; there are still some regressive employers who still hire sexy, but think about it; do you really want to work for a person who hired you based on that? What are you setting yourself up for in the future? Get hired based on merit, job-specific and transferable skills, experience and you’re better off.

Don’t give up, give in, lose hope, listen to pessimism and grind your job search to a halt. Stick with your quest for employment and apply for jobs. Do your best to keep that positive outlook but allow yourself to be human and acknowledge the disappointment and frustration that a prolonged job search can bring. You can simultaneously be disappointed with progress but optimistic that you’ll eventually succeed.

Athletes have trainers, coaches and rely heavily on those who have previously achieved success to mentor them. Why not follow the same formula when you’re after something you ultimately want too? Seeking support while job searching, having a professional coach instruct you in how to be most effective and then having the discipline and intelligence to actually follow the advice you’re given with a commitment to your own improvement is exactly what successful people do.

Of course there’s always the alternative…

 

Experiencing Mental Health Issues?


Be positive. Look on the bright side. Turn that frown upside down. You’re never fully dressed without a smile. See the glass as half full. Don’t be a sour puss.  Things can only get better. You’ve got nowhere to go but up. Nobody wants to be around a grumpy Gus.

Sayings from the past and present that all send the same message; look at things with a positive point of view and present yourself to others with a cheerful disposition. Easier said than done for some folks; at least for some folks some of the time.

It’s likely true that most people do enjoy being around other people who are upbeat and positive. When you surround yourself with optimistic people who are positive, you feel some of that positivity rub off on you. When you walk away you feel better, encouraged, hopeful and in a better mood. Whether that feeling lasts but a moment or you carry it forward for a while depends entirely on you.

On the other hand it’s also the case that if you spend some time with someone who is moody, brooding, negative and talks about doom and gloom, you’re likely to walk away feeling down yourself. Given the choice of the two, most would certainly choose to surround themselves with positive people.

The challenge for some people however is that they are not accustomed to smiling or looking positive. When they are at ease, their faces take on what the rest of us might consider a serious countenance. They look intense, maybe even uninviting; radiating a, “I’d rather be left alone thank you” impression. Unfortunately this may not be how they are really feeling at all, but they come across this way and they know it. They know it because people have told them over and over for ages to smile and look happy.

This issue becomes compounded of course when they experience stress and pressure, especially if it lingers as in the case of a prolonged period of unemployment or financial hardship. As job searching can be fraught with highs and lows, built-up expectations and dashed hopes, it becomes even harder to stay upbeat and hopeful. That advice to put on a smile and fake it until you make it just sounds near impossible.

Empathizing with people who are anxious, depressed, edgy, stressed and immobilized means in part to accept them where they are; appreciating the circumstances in which they find themselves and having a measure of respect. Unless you’ve experienced what they have experienced – (and if you recognize that each person experiences things in their own unique way) it’s difficult to understand sometimes why they can’t change.

Telling someone to just snap out of it and expecting they’ll immediately slap a lasting smile on their face is unreasonable. If it were that easy, they’d have figured that out on their own. They’re likely to think or say, “Don’t you think I would if I could?” What if perhaps this condition you later discovered wasn’t so much a conscious choice the person is making to come across as sad and morose but rather an ongoing mental health issue?

What continues to be difficult for many to truly appreciate is that sometimes this mental health condition isn’t one of choice. No more than say, telling someone with a broken wrist to, “just write or type with it anyhow”, or “suck it up buttercup and deal with it.” That would be insensitive, and at the first sight of the cast on their wrist and forearm we’d be much more likely to acknowledge their injury and perhaps offer our help, extending some empathy or at the very least some sympathy.

But a mental health issue is so much less obvious isn’t it? We don’t know if a person is behaving the way they are by choice or not. Unlike seeing someone with a cast on their wrist and making small talk about how it happened, it’s highly unlikely we’d go up to someone who looks depressed and say, “Are you just sad or are you coping with a mental health disorder?” The other person might be so shocked at this that they wouldn’t know how to respond. They might respond with a, “Mind your own business”, “Is it that obvious?”, or possibly a, “Thanks for asking, actually I am…”

Imagine how much energy it would take to mask and attempt to cover up a condition like social anxiety or full-blown depression. Picture yourself having to force an insincere smile and generate some artificial laughter with those you meet, feeling that to fit in you have to be someone you’re not at your authentic core. That would be exhausting. How long could you keep that up? Could you pull it off? Don’t we all want others to accept us for who we are; aren’t we being told again and again to just be ourselves?

Many people who experience mental health issues are getting some form of help. They are doing the best they can to fit in but their not always successful. They experience the world around them from their unique perspective which may be different from others. Treatments vary as does the outcomes of these interventions.

If you don’t understand it or get it, can’t really empathize with them but wish you could, don’t compound things. Tolerance; acknowledging and accepting them as they are is a start.