Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: letting people down

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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A few thoughts on trying to keep your brain going, when you can’t do everything you need – or people want you – to do.

Hello, and welcome to the spot on the Film Stories site where we stop for a bit to chat about mental health, wellbeing, things that are bothering us, and, well, just stuff. It’s something we’ve been doing for years, and will continue to do so. Not everything we write here is going to be of use to everyone, just hopefully there’s something across the archive of articles that does come in handy.

Maybe it’s this piece? About the constant feeling of letting other people down. It’s something I wrestle with a lot. At the point this is being written, I’ve been hit by some hefty deadlines that have wiped out most of the start of my year. In doing so, it means that things that ordinarily I would – and should – have got to I just haven’t been able to get done.

I hate that feeling, and I hate that I’ve let people down. It’s not in an earth-shattering way, but I know I’ve been a bit below par. I’ve had people asking for things that they can entirely reasonably expect, and on the flip side, I’ve been struggling to fit everything in. Really struggling. I’ve been getting a lot of things done, and my mental health has been fine. I’ve just been at absolute capacity.

It happens, though. I think it’s important to recognise that, and I think it’s important to not beat yourself up about it too much. I’m better at writing that down than actually doing it of course, but still: humans are imperfect. Comes with the gig.

There’s an old cliché that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and that’s obviously very true. But also, I do think things ebb and flow. There are times in my life when I’ve made a much better fist of it.

How, then, to stop this from compressing your head? I can only tell you what works for me.

Firstly, I keep trying to get something done. Even if it’s a small job. I just want to make a little bit of progress.

Secondly, if I’m up against something big and horrible, I try and break it down into lots of small and less horrible things.

Thirdly, I try – I’m not great at this – to alert people that I may not be able to get things done in the timeframe they expect. This news does not always go down well, but still: it’s better than a vacuum of entertainment.

It doesn’t stop the feeling in the stomach of not being good enough, but I’ve generally felt that trying to do something is better than trying to do nothing. I’m very open to more suggestions in the comments, though!

You all take care, and this column will return next week…

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