Hi there accounting fans,
Let’s take a break from all things financial today and let’s talk a bit about mental health. Those of you who follow this blog will know that every now and then I like to talk about the importance of mental health. So today I’m going to share with you a story – a story I’m sure many can relate to – a story about the importance of having a good cry.
I lost my job on the 20th of March 2020. As I’ve mentioned before – it was my dream job. I had worked hard, so very, very hard to land that position, only to have it taken away from me and there was nothing I could do about it. And shortly after that, lockdown happened. I had to say goodbye to my children as we left them in the care of their grandparents (my partner is a nurse – we didn’t want to risk infecting them). As travel began shutting down around the world, my parents in Oman had to cancel their plans to see me in June. The job market shriveled up and everyone was either out of a job or feeling very insecure in their current jobs.
Things were hard to say the least.
But at the time, I didn’t stop to think about how sad I was. I knew that I had to keep pushing, to keep moving forwards. So I started blogging more frequently. I became more active on social media and online forums – helping other people with my financial knowledge. I took a giant leap of faith and started my own business at the start of this economic downturn. I participated in whatever online discussion I could, just so that I could stay on top of things and keep informed of the situation. All of this, while still cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, exercising and picking up Feijoas from under the Feijoa Tree (There are SO MANY of them!!!).
Stress and anxiety has a really sneaky way of creeping up on you. I thought I could push it aside by burying myself in work but what I should have realised is that I should have given myself a break.
And then the jar broke.
It was a literal jar. A jar full of black seeds (habbatus-sauda) a Middle Eastern spice I had bought on my last trip to Oman. More than half of the black seeds spilled out, cascading onto the floor, covering the pantry and the kitchen like little black ants. As I stood there, stunned by what happened, I mustered all of the mental strength I had left to clean up the mess. I was determined to save as much as I can. I washed the dustpan and brush and started cleaning. While cleaning I managed to cut my finger on a bit of glass and then I realised that I couldn’t save the black seeds on the floor as I was sweeping up bits of glass and dirt into the pan as well.
And so I sat.
And so I cried.
And I cried like I hadn’t cried in years.
I didn’t cry because of the broken jar. I cried because the black seeds reminded me of my parents and my daughter in Oman and how I didn’t know when I was going to see them again. I cried because I’ve been working and pushing myself so hard for a better future which is still uncertain. I cried because I missed my normal life and I’m scared of what the future holds, for all of us.
Then my partner embraced me, sat down on the kitchen floor with me and there we cried together, surrounded by all these little black seeds. We cried like a bunch of grown-as 30-somethings. Crying about things that were out of our control.
After a good 15 minutes of bawling, we hugged, we got up, I cleaned up and my partner suggested that we do muay thai kickboxing (at home of course). And so we did. And we felt better after that. And we got on with our lives, focusing on doing things within our control.
So what’s the moral of the story here?
I’m not sure there is one. But the point I’m trying to make is that it is ok to feel frustrated about things beyond your control and that crying is a perfectly fine way to manifest that frustration. Crying helped me get all my emotional distress out of the way and it is a healthier way of dealing with anxiety (as opposed to more self-destructive behaviour).
So yeah, I guess I just wanted to let you know, that if you are feeling down and sad about the whole state of affairs we are in right now:
It’s ok to give yourself a break.
It’s ok to cry.