Saturday 10 October is World Mental Health day.
Mental health problems can affect anyone. In fact, according to WHO, one in four people will suffer from poor mental health at some point in their lives. That’s a lot. Yet still there’s a stigma attached, a sense that it’s not a real illness, a stiff-upper-lip pull-yourself-together keep calm and carry on attitude towards poor mental health.
There’s no miracle cure. No quick fix, no immunity.
It’s no secret that I’ve battled depression for years. I try to do the right things to care for my head, but sometimes they just don’t work and I get stuck. I’ve got better at knowing the signs of ‘the black dog’ lumbering towards me, but serotonin imbalance is a real thing and has real consequences. Lack of decent sleep makes the days hard to bear, gives way to a lack of motivation which leads to inability to achieve even the small things which makes the last drop of self-confidence evaporate leaving low self-esteem, low mood, inability to sleep… it’s a spiral I suspect many of us are familiar with.
Recently my friend Lou asked me to join her on a ‘Take on Twenty Challenge’ to drink water for 20 days. No caffeine, juice, pop, booze; just good old Scottish tap water. I love water. I drink loads of it as it is. However I also love diet coke, gin and tonic, wine… But I accepted the challenge, it was for a great cause – Business Beats Cancer.
The first couple of days were easy enough. I felt hungrier than usual but no real difference. Then late afternoon headaches began, around the time I would have had a diet coke. By day six though, I started to feel the impact. And I liked it.
I felt fresher in the mornings, a result of better sleep even with a pee-stop circa 4a.m. This made me feel more capable, I worked better, achieved more, I walked the dog further – I even cleaned the house. My head felt better, clearer, more positive. Able.
I started to feel bendier, like my muscles were more flexible. I was eating more fruit – adding it to water to make it more interesting – which must have also impacted on the new supple me.
So there you go – all from taking a break from some artificial stimulants in coffee and booze and drinking gallons and gallons of Scotland’s most precious resource – water.