Home, Sweet Health
When I was training to be a therapist I got a placement at a bereavement agency and, as I mentioned in my last post, it was a role that taught me a lot. This particular job involved visiting people and counselling them in their homes, something that I had not encountered before and is relatively unusual in the UK. The most fascinating part of this experience was learning to gain extra insight into people’s mental health through their living situation.
You pick up quickly that our surroundings often reflect the state of our minds. I could often get a better understanding of how someone was grieving through the room we were sitting in and when I began working in addiction I used questions about people’s spaces to similarly gage how they were doing in their recovery. Now this isn’t to say it tells us everything but it is a useful tool and something that can be transferred to our own lives.
One example of this is someone that I visited who lived their life with everything hidden away out of sight. Their home looked immaculate but I could not see anything that gave away clues as to their personality or experiences. This person spent so much time trying to appear ‘perfect’ and blending in, yet inside they carried so much trauma and hurt. They feared so deeply that people would see their pain that they chose not to show anything of themselves at all.
On the other side of this was the person who lived in absolute chaos and struggled with tidiness and order. They, themselves, felt chaotic in their mind and often struggled to organise their thoughts. Their self-care was slipping and they were constantly trying to distract themselves from what was really going on. Talking would often reflect the same nature as they jumped from topic to topic unable to focus.
What do your surroundings say about you? In my case I have lived in various states that have represented my mental health at that time but now have found my balance. If you have ever visited my office then you would see that I have little hints to who I am all around my room. This was something that was only able to happen when I became more comfortable with myself. Making changes to your home can be an active part of your own mental health journey. Decluttering of belongings can help free up headspace, decorating can help you embrace your identity and tidying up can help organise thoughts.
It may seem like a small thing to consider but understanding your home can help you understand yourself and assist in making the changes that you aim for.