World Mental Health Day – Things that helped me

If you are a regular reader of the blog you’ll know that I’ve had depression and still have anxiety. I’ve been asked what things have helped me so here are some of them, do remember that everyone is different though. It’s certainly not a one size fits all when it comes to supporting people with mental health illness, what works for one person might not help others.

  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. It was also hard for me to put things into words. The doctor will suggest different ways to help, I tried them all – CBT, counselling, medication, etc. It was a long process, somethings helped a lot and some didn’t. The support I got from my local chemist (thank you Hilary in The Mill Pharmacy) was outstanding. Also Chrissie the nurse – she held my hand when I was having a panic attack, I’ll never forget her kindness.

2. Talk
Talking to people though has been one the most helpful things that I’ve done. The moment I started speaking about depression and anxiety I realised that I wasn’t alone and that most people are very understanding. Some people will also suggest ways to help that you might not have thought about.

3. Rest
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.

4. Eat healthily
Another eye rolling one but it really does help me. I find if I eat rubbish food I will feel rubbish and although I did go through a ‘beige food phase’ I’m trying to eat healthily most of the time. I would have loved someone to feed me when I was at my worst, by that I mean hand me a nice dinner, I just couldn’t think about food. By the way, cake is healthy right? 

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! Fresh air and a change of scenery can do wonders for lifting your mood (well my mood anyway).

6. Prioritise
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. I don’t know about you, but I used to feel guilty for letting people down, now I realise those people aren’t around these days, so it was just about me being useful to them.

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. I’m also finding that exercise is helping too – it certainly makes me feel better. Driving with my music loud is another one for me and also exploring new places. The biggest one for me is art, the sound of the brush on the canvas, the zoning out of real life and being in my own world and seeing what painting appears.

8. Be kind to yourself
If you want cake have a cake and enjoy it….this one definitely applies to me! Be a friend to yourself, think about what you would like and if it’s possible go for it. Maybe a seaweed bath, a dip in the sea, a long bath, what ever works for you.

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.

10. Write
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. Looking back now it doesn’t even seem like my writing.

You might feel like this dark cloud will never lift, it will though. Every minute, every hour, every day you get through is bringing you nearer to recovery. There is always hope and you are not alone. You might even end up happier than you were before and you’ll certainly end up more understanding.

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