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Mental health awareness: It’s a journey not a fix

Mental Health Day 2022: One Step At A Time

Today is world mental health day. On a personal note, mental health has always been something that has been important to me, constantly working on my own wellbeing and being available to help others.  I learned throughout my life, that mental health is a constant journey and not an overnight change.

At a young age I was adopted from an abusive home, something that would leave me with a void of feeling unworthy and constant anxiety issues throughout my teenage years. I found happiness in computers and video games, a form of escapism where I could be anything I wanted, do anything I wanted and forget about myself for a moment. I also found great friendships in online communities and forums and many opportunities to speak with people from different cultures and backgrounds.  

Later in life, during my teen years, I witnessed my adoptive parent suffer from paralysis, losing a lot of his livelihood very quickly. Technology allowed a lot of their independence to be restored, whether that was through text to speech, driving assisting tools or voice command lighting throughout their home.  

Both experiences drove me towards wanting to channel my professional work into helping people learn to utilise or adapt with technology to improve their lives.  I saw technology as a wonderful thing that can connect people, make life a little easier and in some cases revolutionise a day to day. Whether it was helping to deliver innovate software or understanding of technology, I wanted to help people see the same benefits I too had seen and have their lives benefit.  This gave me an unrelenting drive and helped me keep on path during my studies and into my professional career. 

Powered by the earlier mentioned unworthy feelings, work ethic and drive became a strong part of my identity. Being able to collaborate with team members to deliver projects and learn from each other’s expertise is to me, one of the most empowering and fascinating concepts, the way each person breaks a problem down to their own processes and making it fit together into a whole is something that never fails to fascinate me. At the same time, I am guilty of putting too much of myself into a project, discarding my own feelings to ensure others do not have any inconvenience. In my mind, I’d taken on pain and burnout before, I can do it again to spare others the trouble.  It took a lot for me to learn that sometimes, it is much healthier and sustainable to set boundaries and conform to them. 

During lockdown, this led to me becoming overwhelmed with chronic fatigue, mental burnout, and clinical depression. As many others also felt, I struggled with loneliness and with nothing to direct energy into other than work, it became very easy to just do additional work. I was at home, so why not? Days lost labels and months became blurred into one. I knew something needed to change and with a lot of support from my beautiful wife and amazing friends (both offline and online!) I began to put things in place and work on myself. At times I felt guilty putting my burdens onto other people, but something I learned very quickly is that nobody thought worse of me and fortunately, everyone I knew rallied to help me through it. People were caring and understanding, by far the hardest part was asking for help, from there it was an upwards journey.

I was struggling with chronic fatigue, mental burnout, and clinical depression, I knew something needed to change.

Mark Poston

Later, whilst still on a self-improvement journey I discovered Hable and was instantly attracted to their focus on the team’s wellbeing, world sustainability and carbon footprints. I feel that carbon emissions are the unspoken elephant in the room of technologies, so seeing a business actively embrace this was so refreshing. I was very fortunate to be offered a position and already experiencing the #teamHable sentiment in every facet of the business. 

A few weeks in and I am already feeling supported, surrounded by people passionate about both their own work and their team members too. I look forward to the months coming and the projects we are about to deliver. The team are responsive, caring and every person I spoke with has been outstanding in their field. 

If you’ve read this far, thank you! Perhaps my life’s learnings can help you too.

  1. Respect yourself, you’ve come this far, you are a champion. Set reasonable goals and push them as you can. If today you can only manage the energy to get out of bed, that is more than enough. Everybody responds at different paces, don’t judge yourself on someone else’s merit.  Push the boundary as you can, not as others tell you! If you can go for a 10-minute walk today, a 20-minute walk next week for example you are coming leaps and bounds, be proud of yourself. You got this.
  2. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge something is not how you would like it to be. It takes great courage to acknowledge an issue, even more to tell another person. You will feel infinitely better having somebody to confide in rather than bottling it up.
  3. Look after your own wellbeing, you should never be embarrassed of needing time to yourself. Sometimes things can become overwhelming, and you need to drown the noise out. Breathing techniques and meditation are fantastic tools to help with this, most smart watches even come with built in functionalities now! I personally utilise a 20 minute meditation each night to process the day.
  4. Try and set a routine for the following:
  • Set a sleep schedule. It sounds very cliché, but the sleep time will help your mind process a lot of things, you will start the day with much more energy too.
  • Try to limit screen exposure after 9pm each day where possible, there are a number of amazing lights dimming software for computers and mobiles now too!
  • Make sure to take regular water breaks, water keeps your brain healthy and allows you to process things much easier. Try and spend an hour outside each day, the world is a beautiful place and a change of scenery can often provide a surprise inspiration.
  • Try out new hobbies, you never know, you might find a hidden talent.
  • Spend time on existing hobbies, treat yourself with something you love.
  • At work and with friends, keep in contact and be inclusive as much as possible. Spread positive feedback as much as possible. You might not always know what another person is going through, and the positive comment might just make their day.

But finally, and most importantly. Remember, your health is not something you can change instantly. It will take constant work and at times there will be setbacks. Taking little, reasonable steps that can be maintained is the best way to make the changes you want to see.