On doing nothing for World Mental Health Day


I feel I am always playing catch up, and when I do have the calendar space to do so, I tend to fall sick. And a bad cold I have been fighting with for the last two weeks – not serious enough to be debilitating, but bad enough to strip me of energy.

I feel I am lagging behind. I see a flux of worldwide initiatives for today – World Mental Health Day. Campaigns, full weeks’ of events, public awareness movements, blog posts, social media updates, Twitter chat, launch of new programmes and research reports etc. I had wanted to host an event here in Beijing for 10 Oct too but in the end I did not have enough mind capacity to pull it all together.

I was particularly overwhelmed recently with the sheer number of people in the space of mental health, and wondered what difference would I make? And how will I get Bearapy up and going? 

I joined the first cohort of Transformative Technology Academy, as I was interested in “mental health tech” and wondered if it might be a space into which to venture. Lots of interesting and great-hearted people in a cohort of 600. Some just starting out like me, some much further ahead. Then I start reading about mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals, Movements of Mental Health, Workplace Mental Health this and that. Even the Royal family has caught on with Heads Together.

It’s like a new fad. It sounded like everyone was doing something.

I had thought I was ahead of some kind of wave having started writing about this since 2010 whilst I was in the midst of my own depressive journey. And suddenly, it feels like I would be left behind if I did not do anything “big” soon. Or even be able to do what is on my to-do list. I have been overstretched (since I can remember) and so was falling behind the assignments and content for the Academy – and I have never, never, never, ever, submitted in homework late. Nor have I had much luck with journalists and the media to even discuss my book a little.

I felt glum, stagnant, and dismayed. I sat on the sofa pitying myself, coughing and blowing my nose at the same time, and trying not to fall back into a coma sleep from the fatigue.

Arlie then babbled some mumble-jumble from his play pen. Picked up the soccer ball, threw it, giggled, picked it up, threw it again, and then giggled. I looked up, and he was bright-eyed and sufficiently self-entertained in his play. I giggled at his giggles. Contagious. So I went into his play pen, and threw the ball for him. He duly fetched each time I threw it and chuckled like it was the most amusing thing he has ever encountered even after the nth time. It was adorable.

Then I really had a good laugh at myself – perhaps I could heed my own advice for once? Just play? Relax? And keep my mind off everything else I had not done?

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So, backing off from my usual defense mechanism of omnipotence, I decided, to let it be.

Let it be that I cannot do everything.
Let it be that I did not plan anything monumental for World Mental Health Day.
Let it be that no one has reviewed my book.
Let it be that I am sick so all I need to do is sleep.
Let it be that I haven’t done my homework on time.
Let it be that I have no press coverage.
Let it be that there is still so much to do.

So, instead of adding to the flurry of things done for #WMHD, for now, I will do nothing, play with Arlie and Rivie.

Because, if World Mental Health Day is about being mentally well, then all I need to do, is just to stay mentally well.

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.