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6 Important Points on Mental Health

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

So last night I attended the Rehabcare HOPS pub quiz.

The name HOPS stands for “Healing Opportunities and Peer Support”

It’s a place dedicated to helping people recover from mental illness with the ultimate goal of helping the service users become independent, self sufficient and able to become fully functional members of the community.

In the time I’ve worked with the centre, both as a volunteer and also as a contractor providing services, I’ve seen several people from the centre do just that.

And it’s awesome.

Of course it’s not always possible, some of the people there will never achieve total independence, but even so I have witnessed first hand their personal growth and the stabilisation of their symptoms through the methods employed in HOPS, which includes the guys training with me.

I’m very proud to be attached to the service and very happy to have learned more about mental health as a result.

So here’s a few things we may or may not know about mental health: 1: You have Mental Health just as you have Physical Health.

This is important to remember.We are all aware that our physical health chops and changes, we catch colds, we get the flu, maybe a stomach bug, a pulled muscle, and twisted ankle. Our physical health isn’t always 100%, thats why we eat well, train well, sleep well and do our best to improve it and become more resilient. You’re mental health is no different. Some days you feel indestructible, other days you want to sit and watch the world burn. Some days you spring out of bed singing sound of music, other days you hide under the duvet and hit snooze a dozen times. Some days your mate slags off your hair and you think it’s the funniest thing ever, other days when he makes a joke, you want to punch him, or hide in the toilet and cry. THIS IS NORMAL Just like you can’t max out a deadlift every day, you can’t be happy all the time. So stop fucking trying! But also remember, other people also have mental health, and they might not be on point either.

2: Physical and Mental health are inextricably linked. This should be obvious. Or at least it is in my mind. All the things you do to increase your physical health, ie training, eating well and sleeping, also improve mental health. But there’s a rider to this. Obsessive behaviour leads to poor mental health as much as leads to physical breakdown. The almost religious zeal with which people talk about their Vegan/Paleo/Low Carb/Clean Eating/Flexible Dieting diets can become a problem. What started out as an honest effort to improve their health can lead people down the road of longer term poor health. Same with those who feel guilty about missing gym session. Or weigh themselves every day. If your self worth is so intertwined with an idyllic perception of being “healthy” there’s a good chance you’re actually moving away from health. So chill. Unless you’re a top athlete, what does it matter? Perfection is for the gods, strive for it by all means, but don’t let it consume you.

3: A Man in  a Plastic Bag is possibly Irelands greatest advocate for Mental Health. And I wish I was joking!

4: Breathing

I’ve written about breathing plenty of times. Click this link and it’ll take you to a all my breathing related blog posts:

5: Trust in your support network We all have one. Family Friends Training Partners

We just have to trust in them. In all honesty, it’s my training partners that have helped me the most, as they’re the ones who are there when you’re most vulnerable anyway. There’s something visceral about being there struggling and sweating on a regular basis with training partner. We trust them to push us when we want to quit We trust them to spot us and keep us safe when the weight is heavy We trust them to count our reps To shout support To take the piss when we fuck up We trust them to punch us hard, but not to hurt To put on the arm bar, but not to dislocate or break the arm. When you train with a person you have already let down your guard, let them in and developed a bond at a level deeper than words.

Training partners have always come through for me, become best friends, become family. And if you train with me in Wild Geese, then you have a family, hence the hashtag ” #wgfamily

6: Put Your Own Mask On First.

Such a succinct statement that has such a profound thought process behind it.

It came from one of my own clients, who is also a good and trusted friend.

We were talking about what i call “applied selfishness” or that in order to be more useful to the wider world, we first must look after ourselves.

“in the event of an emergency, place your oxygen mask on first before assisting the person beside you”

or as Georges Herbert tells us, “Be strong to be useful”

If we don’t take the time to look after ourselves, how can we be strong.

If we’re not strong, how can we be useful?

If we are passing out from lack of oxygen, how can we save the person beside us?

Put yourself first so that you can reach down and pull someone up.

And if in doubt, get outside and walk in the woods.

Mental health doesn’t get talked about enough. Break the cycle and learn about your dark places, share them with someone you trust, get advice, work on it. Treat it like physical health, because it is physical health.

And reach down to help someone else up.


Dave Hedges

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