Why is mental health like building a house… let me explain… Growing up I would colour in my dad’s architecture drawings for the latest house he was building, it filled me with dreams of being an architect and designing the houses that my dad would build. Coming from a household where my dad could literally build anything you drew, from rabbit hutches and runs to later the office where I now work, I quickly became attuned to the time, effort and energy that sits behind those pictures which later become homes.
In Year 6 my science project was about cavity walls, as my dad taught me about the reality that the walls of a house are not just one layer, that the insulation is an important factor and that those measurements are imperative to the house fulfilling it’s function I spent hours drawing the illustrations to support this new knowledge – we got a gold star for that project….
Fast forward a good few years and I am repeatedly reminded of those lessons in cavity walls, planning and architecture but now it can be applied to our mental health. So pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and let me explain the reasons why your mental health is just like building a house…
#1 – Mental health must be built on solid foundations
I read an article this week that said that only 20% of the population will ever commit to the time for working on their self-development with a therapist. Whether the statistics are correct isn’t necessarily important, the trend though is. In order for us to have good mental health we need to be honest, open and willing to review the patterns, negative associations and reactions that we have to issues and deal with them. If we continually find ourselves in similar destructive or unsettling behaviours such as anger, lying, addiction, dependency, overreactions, stress or anxiety etc, then we need to take time to bring our mental health into check. Just like building a house our mental health is core to our foundations and no situation, event or scenario will bring us contentment or joy if we do not spend the time and effort to resolve these factors. Simply put – without it the house falls down.
#2 – Our mental health cannot be balanced on someone else’s house
It can be very easy to decide that ‘if xx was to do this then I would be happier’ or ‘if my partner was home more then I would be less anxious’ – whilst having a support system is important we CANNOT rely on others to build our solid foundations, it is unfair on them and destructive to us. Our metal health is our own priority, and whilst friends and family may support (talking, listening, taking us to therapy sessions, babysitting etc) we cannot ask of them to fix us. The pressure will cause a catalyst of further problems and if that person is removed then again the house collapses. We cannot build a terrace on the roof of a shed – it will not withstand the pressure and everything crumbles – much is the issue when people opt to place their mental health in the hands of someone else.
#3 – If our mental health is wonky we can topple a whole terrace
If we do not take accountability for our own mental health the after affects can topple a terrace, in effect our friends, family and children. By dismissing our own destructive or negative behaviours/thoughts we can easily destroy a whole terrace of support. Few individuals are willing to be screamed at repeatedly, dismissed, blamed or subjected to abuse or controlling behaviours and stay. So often we can think that noone notices, or they will always forgive us, but ongoing destructive behaviours have far reaching implications. We are aware of the nature-nurture debate and often those very behaviours which haunt us can begin to haunt children and family members. It is therefore imperative that where we see our behaviours having impact or being witnessed we take a route of accountability and find resolution to them so that we keep our house upright and stable.
#4 – Mental health is built brick by brick
Mental health development, repair and growth is built brick by brick, layer by layer – just like a house. We cannot expect to complete one therapy session and be fixed, where behaviours are long lasting and influential in varying aspects of our life we will need to take the time to acknowledge that we may have subconscious memories/events/situations that we need to go back and find resolution with in order to change the behaviour pattern. Often this can feel overwhelming and difficult as we may not wish to face the very things that bought us to where we are now, but in order to find peace finding a therapist who can support creating subconscious peace with triggering situations is an important part of the process of repairing mental health.
#5 – Your mental health is not as simple as putting up a pretty hanging basket
It can be easy to think that losing weight, having our haircut, changing jobs, meeting a new partner, having a child or moving house will help us find peace with our mental health. However just like a hanging basket does not make a home these sticky plaster solutions, whilst a great distraction, will inevitably fall by the wayside at some point. Often once we get comfortable. At the point of getting comfortable the metaphorical worms come out of the woodwork and begin to slowly suffocate us again, hence the reason people find themselves ‘repeating patterns’ over a period of time. Mental health requires us to focus on rebuilding the foundations and the walls so that we can move forward with a fresh page.
It is important to remember that in finding peace we may need to admit things we have never told anyone. As such we need to allocate ourselves time to repair, it is not a journey to be rushed or hurried, but one to cherish and give attention to, much like we cannot build a house in a day we cannot fix our negative behaviours overnight. Commitment to yourself and your growth is therefore the priority if you wish to change.
For more details of how Nicky can help you to begin you journey of repair you can visit www.astepatatime.org.uk