The Work is Never Finished
The work is never finished.
Throughout all of this, I think that is the most important take away. You are never done with working on yourself. You never get to a point where you become immune to mental health problems. There are times when your mental health is very good and it feels like there is no way you could ever crumble again. And then there are times where it feels like you’ll never be able to pick yourself back up.
Looking back, it’s nearly always when I feel my mental health is impenetrable that I begin to fall. It’s always during times of complacency – when I’m spending too much time alone or too much time on social media unchecked, or ignore my mental health routine – during these times is when I begin to struggle. That seems obvious now but it isn’t so obvious when you’re in the middle of it
When we stop working on ourselves we begin to disimprove. I suppose that’s the nature of our universe and our reality. Things begin to decay and fall apart over time. Mental health is no different. Good and consistent mental health isn’t just luck of the draw, it takes effortful and disciplined work. I didn’t understand this myself for years.
So, in this sense, working on our mental health is a constant grind. The same way that you work out every day in order to look a certain way, you must work on your mental health every day in order to feel a certain way. We’re never taught to think like this about our mental well-being as children, but it’s an incredibly important and empowering way to frame your mental health. You have the power to heal your mind, and all it takes is consistent and diligent work every day.
We need that sense of discipline, and the reassurance that we are acting in a way that is conducive with our own contentment. Drinking every weekend isn’t conducive with contentment for me, for example. Although it brings me immediate joy and euphoria because I enjoy the time with my friends, it does more damage in the aftermath than you would consider worthwhile. And so the more I engage with this behaviour, the higher the risk of my mental health deteriorating.
These are the types of things we all do which we know to be bad for us in the long-term, but bring us comfort in the short-term. We think we’re doing the right thing but we’re not. It’s an act of self-harm in a sense, to constantly engage in behaviours that destroy us. Yet, in our world it’s totally normalised. We all do it – and we convince ourselves that it is okay because everyone else is doing it too. We march into sickness with everyone else because we’re afraid to say No to our urges and desires. None of us want to delay gratification because that means we’ll have to face up to our flaws and our problems and the things that hurt. Our flaws are plentiful, and our ability to ignore them is unbound.
This is why the work is never complete. There is always more you can do to get better. This is why, when you tell me that you have good mental health I say it is not enough. It is not enough to just have good mental health now. We need to behave so that we have good mental health now, and tomorrow, and in 10 years from now. Doing this takes work and so we need to be responsible and do this work.
Think of you and all the future versions of you as a community. Think of this as a group who relies on you, because they do, and then do today the thing which will serve this group – which includes you – the best. The community of You depends on you, and so only looking after your present self’s mental health is not enough. You still have work to do, and so do I.
The work is never finished – and that seems like a good place to begin.