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Looking after yourself as well as everyone else

Jo Fitzsimmons photo Jo Fitzsimmons · 31 Jul, 2020

"I am one of life's carers. But what that has meant is that sometimes I don't take enough care of myself." Jo talks about one of the things she has learnt through parenting someone who has struggled with their mental health.

Hi! I am Jo. I used to work for Youthscape, along with some of the Headstrong team. So it is really great to be able to kinda share some experience with you.

One of the reasons I kinda went into that line of work was that I am the mum of a young person who struggles significantly with their mental health - around self harm, and suicide, and questioning their gender, and their identity, and pretty much everything about themselves. So kind of know it from that point of view.

And then I've been fortunate enough to be able work in kind of this line of work for a while as well. And I guess one of the things I want to talk about is our own mental health.

Quite often I've worked out that actually some of the best people who are really good at caring, are also those, actually, who need to take a bit more care of themselves. And it's something I know from my experience, and from who I am, and my personality, and the things that motivate me, is that actually, I am one of life's carers. But actually, what that means is that sometimes, actually I don't care- take enough care about myself.

And actually, all that energy and that wanting to support and help, and I guess, solve things for people sometimes, actually means that I put myself on the back burner. And what I've learnt is that that's actually not very good. It's not healthy and it's not helpful.

Because in the short-term, I might come up with someone with loads of energy, and really wanna be there for that person, and feel really empathetic to them; but actually, what that means is what's going on in my own head, is about kinda not looking after myself, about feeling tired, worn out, and in the end I get a bit frustrated with somebody, but actually, it's more about myself and how I don't look after myself enough.

And I have found loads of times that actually some of the most wonderful empathetic people who are the best at supporting people with their- with mental health, actually struggle greatly with their own mental health. Putting in the kind of things that are around supporting and looking after themselves as much as supporting and caring for somebody else. So I guess that's my challenge to myself, as well as, my challenge to you as well. Is about how do you look after you, whilst you are trying to support somebody else as well?

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