On Valentine’s Day, the Straits Times highlighted an important truth that has special significance for those struggling with mental illness. Before you can care for other people, you have to care for yourself. You have to love yourself enough to take care of your body and mind; only then can you be healthy enough to properly love and care for the other people in your life.

Failing to Practise Self-Care

The Straits Times article mentions a senior police officer who had difficulty with the concept of being retired. He was used to being in charge of others, and he defined his worth by his career. When that career ended, the older man found it hard to adjust. He ended up getting into an altercation with a stall holder at a market. According to Dr. Adrian Wang, a psychiatrist in Singapore, the retiree failed to be kind to himself and to care for himself for years. He devoted everything to others, and he had no emotional resources left for himself.

Identifying Self-Neglect in Teenagers

Dr. Wang drew attention to the plight of some stressed teenagers as well, who are so driven to please their parents and achieve goals that they suffer extreme depression when they fail. Rather than devoting so much time to pleasing others, these young people must learn to think about nurturing themselves mentally and emotionally. “It’s not just about finding happiness but about finding resilience, as you can’t be happy all the time,” Dr. Wang explains. “Self-love is about developing resilience. And resilience is about developing the endurance to outlast the pain.”

Putting on the Oxygen Mask

An apt illustration is often used to explore this idea. Imagine that you and your child are in an airplane, flying thousands of feet above the ocean. There is a sudden emergency, and the oxygen masks fall from their compartments in the ceiling. You feel panic rising; you know that your child cannot properly put on the oxygen mask.

If you put the child’s oxygen mask on first, you could end up passing out from the lack of oxygen, and your child won’t be able to help you. However, if you apply your own mask first, you’ll have the strength and alertness that you need in order to help your child and other passengers.

Reserving Resources for Yourself

The same principle applies in cases of mental illness. You may feel that you don’t have the time or the money to care for your mental health. All your resources are being diverted to the needs of your spouse, your children, your siblings, your parents, or other loved ones. There’s just not enough left for you. However, if you keep leaving yourself out of the equation, you will become so weakened and ill that you are unable to help all those beloved family members.

Instead, take time to invest in yourself. Allocate some resources to ensure that your mental and emotional health is properly cared for, and then you will be in a much better position to assist those in need within your circle of family and friends.

Seeking Your Own Emotional and Mental Health

Are you depressed, anxious, angry, or driven by compulsive behaviours? Love yourself enough to investigate the problem and seek treatment. At Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, you can consult with a top psychiatrist in Singapore who will help you understand why you feel this way and how you can get better. With better mental health in Singapore, your life and the lives of your loved ones can improve.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, 14 Feb, 2017