What do raisin fingers have to do with mental health?

My three year-old daughter stayed in the bath for too long recently and her fingers went all wrinkly, like raisins. I pointed it out lightheartedly and she collapsed into a wailing heap of tears.

She was devastated and I don’t blame her. She believed that they would be wrinkly forever; that the smooth fingertips of her younger years were a thing of the past and she was doomed to walk the world with raisin fingers. And worse still, it was her own doing. If she’d only come out of the bath when her sister did, she’d be fine now.

Of course, a couple of hours later, her hands were restored to their former beauty and she was able to laugh it off. She even found it cool and tried to scare her baby sister with them at the next bath-time.

Imagine how life would feel if you didn’t know that things pass. So much of how we feel is based on our perception of whether our situation is permanent. There’s a big difference between having a bad day and believing that you’ll never feel good again. Even if you have a long-term illness, there are ups and downs. It’s easy to say, but if we can remember that nothing lasts forever, it makes even the bad days better.

One of the hardest things about mental health problems is that they can convince you that they’re here to stay. When you’re in the middle it’s hard to remember that you’ll ever feel better again. It’s all very well saying it, but can you believe it?

Well, that’s one of the benefits of having had tough times. If you live a charmed life, it must be terrifying to contemplate things going wrong. But if you’ve had to struggle, if you’ve faced mental health problems in the past, you know that you can come through the other side.

It’s only living through it that can teach us that. Like my daughter with her raisin fingers, we can look back and see a bad situation differently. And that helps us to deal with the future.

This is a post from our Project Manager Rosie McIntosh @rosiehopes

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