Why Minding Your Own Mental Health Business is Key

Jan 29, 2022

Why Minding Your Own Mental Health Business is Key

By Tammy Peebles RN, BSN, MSN, ASN

Mental health disorders are a serious public health concern. The fact is that many people do not take mental health issues such as depression as seriously as other chronic health issues. Even though it is a major cause of disability in the United States, some people don’t consider depression as a mental illness. Therefore, symptoms are often missed and go undiagnosed (Williams, Chung, & Muennig, 2017).

Statistics show that upwards of 46 million people are living with a mental illness (National Institute of Health, 2019). There are multiple social determinants of health that impact your mental health – biological (genetics), physical, psychosocial well-being, education, and socioeconomic stressors.

According to the World Health Organization (2018), “there is no health without mental health”. Poor mental health can lead to chronic health illnesses and vice versa. Researchers state that there is a direct and indirect correlation between mental and physical health. For example, physical health issues can affect employment (i.e., loss of wages) leading to lack of access to food or poor food choices. Further, mental health issues can cause a lack of sleep and additional stressors at work (Ohrnbergera, Ficherab, & Suttona, 2017).

Minding your own mental health may be easier said than done. I have to admit that I am the person in my family that had the Savior Complex although I didn’t realize it for many years. I also watched my mother for many years give of herself and take care of many family members, church members, and friends.

My first experience with taking care of someone was with my sister who was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 13. I was 14 at the time. The feelings of joy that I had in helping my mother take care of her is something I don’t regret. It’s actually the reason that I became a nurse. After I became a nurse, a lot of my family members and friends would call and ask medical questions or request me to come by their homes to help care for an ill loved one.

Being the dutiful nurse that I am, I went without hesitation. Every time someone gets sick or has health questions, they call me. I am known as the “strong” one in the family or the one that can “fix” things. I saw myself like this my whole life. After many years of keeping up this pace, I not only became physically and mentally tired but I also felt burned out from the constant pressure of feeling like I had to comply with their requests. Let’s not talk about the sleep deprivation, postponing my own doctor’s appointments, and continuing to go even when I wasn’t feeling the best.

I felt responsible for my parent's health and that if I didn’t do it, then who would? In addition, I was trained as a child that family always takes care of their own. I also felt angry and resentful because I knew there were other family members or people who either lived closer to the ill family member than me or could help but just wouldn’t. I felt like people forgot or didn’t care that I was juggling a full-time job, handling my own health concerns, and taking care of my own family. It just came to a point where I couldn’t keep up with all of the demands. 

I actually became ill and needed physical assistance, but no one came to support me. This was very hurtful and stopped me dead in my tracks. It broke me from running around taking care of everyone else. I thought if I don’t take care of myself, what good am I to my children or if I die? It was my own thoughts and beliefs, attitudes and misconceptions, and continual attempts to do what could not be done or to control what could not be controlled that resulted in frustration and my inclination to ignore my own needs.

To overcome these barriers, which wasn’t easy, I took baby steps:

  • I had to do some inner work on myself and commit to it so I could heal, feel free, and grow personally and professionally.
  • I had to learn to help myself first.
  • I identified the things that I could change or have control over.
  • I avoided being too available.
  • I let others take the lead first.

The bottom line is, I can’t be everything to everyone, and neither can you

As the Founder and CEO of Infinity Long Term Care Consulting, LLC, Tammy Peebles provides management consulting for healthcare facilities. Her goals are to strategically plan their enterprise, improve overall performance, and effect change. Mrs. Peebles is a regulatory compliance strategist who also loves to motivate, educate, and inspire aspiring and current nurse leaders to achieve a higher level of success professionally and personally. Tammy offers a wide range of services from individual coaching, to certification programs, seminars, and keynote speeches. To contact Tammy please visit her website at www.infinityltcare.com

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