He just can't decide

And I'm a snappy turtle

I consider myself to be a pretty decisive person. I wouldn’t say I am impulsive, but equally, I am not indecisive. If I know something is right for me, then I will work out a way of doing that thing.

Decision-making is a critical part of mental health that I really believe isn’t talked about enough. In fact, one of the main points of contention early on in mine and Craig’s relationship was his complete inability to make a decision. Not only was the indecision itself frustrating to me, but when you are the more decisive person in a pair, you often end up making the decisions… and then you are responsible for the outcome.

Fortunately, many years have passed since then and we’ve both grown a lot. Alongside all the common lessons you learn while sharing your twenties with someone, we also discovered Craig has ADHD, which massively impedes decision making.

I’m firmly of the belief that the more you learn about your mental health, the better you feel. It’s not just about saying “I’m an indecisive person” but understanding why you struggle to make decisions.

In a similar vein, I spent many years being an anxious person. I had many of the typical anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks, catastrophising and low self-esteem. If I was having a panic attack, I knew it was a symptom of my anxiety. But what about my irritability? Something that basically became a personality trait for me. I was known to be short, snappy and impatient with people, particularly in situations outside of my comfort zone like at a family meal, for example. But after over a decade of learning about my own mental health and the subject in general, I now know that irritability is, in fact, a symptom of my anxiety. In the same way that indecision is a symptom of Craig’s ADHD.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that mental health can become an excuse to hurt people, which extreme indecision and irritability can indeed do. But, I do think understanding it puts us in a better position and allow us to work towards self-improvement in a healthier and sustainable way.

Craig still struggles to make decisions when he’s under pressure, but he purposefully “practices” his decision-making skills (and at the same time, I can learn how to be less of a control freak). And I make a concerted effort to notice my irritability during times of stress or high pressure and look to apologise to anyone I may snap at along the way.

We all have mental health, not just those of us with diagnosed conditions. You don’t wait until you’ve broken a bone to exercise that muscle, so why avoid working on your own mental health until there's a problem?

Nurturing mental health looks different for everyone and, while social media contributed to a heightened awareness for the importance of ‘self-care’ - it’s not as simple as whacking on a face mask and lighting a candle (although those are nice things to do).

Self-care is about taking the time to understand your own mental health, identifying (for want of a better word) your ‘triggers’ and sharing your thoughts and feelings with those you love. This is the part where you discover that you aren’t just an irritable person, or indecision isn’t a trait of your personality, it’s actually a part of your own mental makeup that you are able to identify and, ultimately, accept.

Let me know your thoughts on these lesser talked about facets of mental health, such as indecision, irritability, short temper, brain fog, impulsivity etc, over on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email for a confidential chitchat.

🎥 Eighth Grade (Netflix) - A tale of eighth-grader Kayla, who isn’t really sure who she is and doesn’t seem to fit in at school. This is very different to your typical coming-of-age film (see: Book Smart) as it’s more just like watching a snippet of someone’s life, rather than following their journey through the traditional storyline. It’s probably the truest depiction of my own formative years, as Kayla is confident online but lacks the nouse to make friends IRL.

🎥 Love, Death and Robots has returned to Netflix for a second series. This is a short stories series for fans of Black Mirror and other prolific sci-fi.

📺 Inside No.9 is also back! This anthology series needs no introduction and is available on BBC iPlayer.

📚 Them by Jon Ronson - I think this is the final of Ronson’s books on my TBR. The journalist followed extremists from various walks of life at the turn of the millennium and wrote this book about them. It’s pretty good, but not my favourite of his - that place is reserved for So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, a deep-dive into Twitter cancel culture. As always with Ronson, I highly recommend the audiobook version because he is great at telling his own stories.

🎧 Podcast #13: Demystifying Data and Recruiting a Team With Scott McMullan, Growth Director of Bedrock.

This week on the podcast, we were joined by CRO and data analytics specialist, Scott McMullan. Scott runs Bedrock, a small growth marketing agency that he started as a freelancer, and has since grown to recruit his very own team. Scott is currently based in Manchester but has previously lived and managed his business in our own North East.

You can also listen to this episode, and all past ones, over on Spotify.

That’s all from me this week, see you next Wednesday for more of the same.

Ellen x