Today is World Mental Health Day and I wanted to give those who might be suffering a bit of hope. I’m so much better than I was this time last year, I can’t believe in the change. There were times that I didn’t think I’d ever get back to ‘normal’ but here I am back with a bang and a hell of a lot wiser.
I lost a few people along the way but I gained a few as well. People who understand exactly how I felt. People I didn’t have to explain things to. I won’t say I’m cured and I don’t think I ever will be. I still have the occasional off day and I still get the chest pain of anxiety. Those moments used to weekly, daily and even hourly occurrences now they just happen now and again and when they do I know how to deal with them.
People ask me what helped me so here are some things that did:
1. Seek help
The biggest thing was realising that I had a problem/problems and seeking help. I was afraid to tell my doctor and my family, mainly because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was scared of being judged and scared of what might happen to me. The biggest step I took was admitting there was an issue and almost everyone I spoke to was very understanding. When you are at the doctor request a blood test, see if you are lacking in anything, most of us are Vitamin D deficient and quite a few of us are B12 deficient this can have a real effect on your mental health (thanks Siobhan – I’m eternally grateful).
Talking to people has been the most helpful thing that I’ve done. The moment I started speaking about depression and anxiety I realised that I wasn’t alone. People have shared their stories with me and in some cases we’ve ended up laughing about some of the situations we’ve been in.
Try to get a good nights sleep – yes I would have rolled my eyes at this one too. I was on sleeping tablets at the beginning and whilst I wouldn’t recommend them I really couldn’t have coped with many more sleepless nights. I’ve also tried herbal drops, sleepy tea and most other things I can think of. I do fall asleep but I wake up at around 3am thinking of various conversations I’ve had over the last 40 years and how many people I’ve offended. There is always the temptation to read, look at my phone etc. So I’ve stopped doing that now and try to concentrate on my breathing which usually helps me fall back to sleep. If you can’t sleep at night try to rest during the day, I know easier said than done. If my Insomnia is really bad I’ve found a change of scenery works wonders. Trying to get away for a break, even for a day, helps.
4. Eat healthily
Another eye rolling one but it really does help me. I find if I eat shite I will feel shite and although I did go through a ‘beige food phase’ I’m trying to eat healthily most of the time…cake is healthy right? 😉 I’ve also stopped taking sugar in coffee – wonders will never cease!
5. Get some fresh air
I know, I’m sure your eyes have now rolled so far back in your head you’ll never see daylight again! I’m not going to say go for a walk because honestly I would probably have decked the next person who told me that! Even if you sit outside with a cuppa and watch the world go by it might help.
Not everything has to be done this minute. If you aren’t feeling the best put off whatever you can until another day and just do the important things. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either, people are only too happy to help. If queues are a problem (and they were for me) I used to ‘forget’ something when I got to the till so that I could go and get it and not have to queue – sounds daft but it works. No one ever died because the shopping or the housework wasn’t done. Who am I trying to kid – I hardly ever do housework!
7. Do something you love
Is there a hobby or activity you’ve always loved? Why not give it a try? Getting back into the photography really helped me. Driving with my music loud is another one for me and also exploring new places. I’m also really interested in art, drawing, painting but mostly just playing, it really helps me relax.
8. Treat yourself
If you want cake have a cake and enjoy it….this one definitely applies to me!
9. Meet friends
It’s great to have a cuppa and a catch up. Perhaps give the caffeine a break for a while as it certainly made me feel more anxious.
This one was a massive help for me. I carried a notebook everywhere with me and whenever I felt anxious or down I would write. There were poems, ramblings, rants, you name it I wrote it.
I also realise I’m not invincible and I’m certainly not wonder woman. I’ve learned to say no to a lot of things. I’m not great in crowds and that’s OK. I realise that what helped me might not work for everyone, after all we are all different. So do what makes you happy and remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not always a train.