If you follow me on social media you will be aware that recently, I have once again been battling with my mental health. If you follow me on social media you will be aware that recently, I have once again been battling with my mental health.
What frustrated me most was knowing what I needed to do to claw my way out, but being unable to do it.
I was completely and utterly stuck.
Thankfully, I finally found a way out again and feel as though I am getting myself back on track. I am also facing some issues and demons that I have left buried and making permanent changes in order to have a happier and calmer future.
It takes time though.
Everyone is different, there is no one size fits all. However I thought I would share how I began my journey in the hope that it may help anyone reading this who doesn’t quite know how to help themselves.
Be Completely Honest With Yourself and Others.
This one is the first big step and is so important.
I always figured I was being honest. I mean, I talk about my mental health struggles online and even say if I am having an off day when someone comments I don’t seem like myself. When I looked in the mirror though and truly asked myself ‘Am I being completely honest about how I feel?’ I realised I wasn’t.
This wasn’t an ‘off day’ or even an ‘off week’, I had been feeling incredibly low and stuck for quite a while. This wasn’t something I was just going to shake off.
If this is you too, be completely honest with yourself and the loved ones around you. Even your employer. I woke up one Monday morning and realised I couldn’t face going into work. I hadn’t been well over the weekend anyway but, despite that, I woke up and realised I couldn’t face going in. I couldn’t face anything.
I called the doctor that day and was signed off for two weeks. Something I couldn’t really afford but I had no choice. I could feel I had reached rock bottom and needed to do something. For myself and for my daughter. I took this time to speak to my loved ones honestly about how I was feeling and what kind of support I needed from them.
Please don’t assume your loved ones don’t want to know how you’re feeling or that you will be a burden to them. That is your depression talking, making you feel as though you are not worthwhile. They WANT to help you and want to know if you are struggling.
I have made a point of promising myself I will always be honest about how I am feeling.
Avoid The Bad Habits You Use to Numb Yourself.
I had found myself reaching for alcohol more and more in recent months. I wasn’t reliant on it thankfully but did find I was using it to numb my feelings or as something to look forward to at the end of the day. If I didn’t have a drink I would instead stuff my face with junk food.
Alcohol, food or whatever your vice is, these should not be used to mask your feelings. They should be used when happy, or on special occasions when you are in a good place and can enjoy them properly. As they are meant to be enjoyed. I wasn’t even acknowledging what I was drinking or eating in the end, I just wanted to feel numb.
I have now been focusing on healthy distractions to keep my mind happy and stimulated, such as getting back to blogging and posting on social media. I have also bought myself some art stuff as I have always found sketching or painting relaxing, but haven’t done it for years. Most evenings I now find myself reaching for my sketch book to relax and I haven’t touched wine at all.
Are there any hobbies that you used to love? Or is there something you have always wanted to try? Maybe now is the time.
Take Your Medication, Regularly.
I have been taking Sertraline for a couple of years now. Medication is a taboo subject and not everyone agrees with it, personally I don’t feel I could function without it. I am not reliant, but it helps me help myself. I don’t feel there should be a stigma with people taking meds for their mental health, there are no stigmas in taking them for any other illnesses.
The reason I make a point of saying ‘regularly’ is because I wasn’t taking mine every day. Or at the same time each day. I would forget, sometimes for a couple of days in a row, and I was useless at remembering to put my repeat prescription in on time.
Like any other medications, if you don’t take them properly they don’t work properly. If you miss taking the pill for a few days and have unprotected sex you could fall pregnant. If you have diabetes and don’t take insulin you risk falling ill.
I have been taking my meds every day, at the same time for four weeks now and it has made one hell of difference. I also now use the NHS app to order my prescription which is so much easier and means I don’t go without.
Set Yourself Small, Realistic Goals.
I had let things like my housework fall by the wayside because I just couldn’t face it. Every small task seemed like a mammoth one and I struggled to clean my teeth and hair let alone clean my flat.
To get back on track I knew I needed to start off small and not put too much pressure on myself. I would write a couple of simple tasks I wanted to complete that day and start from there. I would also not beat myself up if I didn’t complete them all.
The more time has passed the more tasks I have been able to add to the list, sometimes spontaneously. I still take each day at a time though.
Organise Your Time and Prep For The Next Day.
I can’t tell you just how much this particular pointer has helped me. By organising myself and getting everything I need ready for the next day I have massively reduced my stress levels!
I always used to make sure I had Savannahs lunch and uniform sorted for the following day but never sorted myself out. Now I have the clothes out ready that I plan to wear and lunch made ready to go for the next day. Which has also already saved me lots of money now I am not buying it!
By preparing more for the next day, the next day is much calmer and more manageable.
Go Easy on Yourself.
Some days are harder than others. Sometimes you fail at even the simple tasks you have set yourself. That’s OK. No one is happy and organised and successful EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. No matter how much it may seem they are.
Go easy on yourself if you don’t accomplish everything you planned. Especially if you did your best. The best is all you can – and need to – do.
Listen to Your Mind and Body.
This one kind of follows on from the last point. Listen to your body and mind and let how you feel lead the path on how you manage your day. It is impossible to be happy, active, productive or energised every day. Some days you just want to get done the stuff you can’t avoid like parenting and work and not much else. And that is fine.
This weekend I have done my housework and that is pretty much it. I have made the most of having the weekend to myself and it feels good. I haven’t even done all of the housework I needed either but that doesn’t matter. I am feeling re-energised and content. That is what is most important.
Put Your Feelings First and Say No If You Need to.
I have always been someone who puts everyone else’s needs before my own, even if it is at the expense of my happiness or wellbeing.
That is not happening anymore. If I don’t want to do something or go out somewhere then I won’t.
I am extremely lucky that I have amazing friends who understand that and an amazing boyfriend who understands that also. It really makes such a difference. Sadly in the past, actually for most of my past, that has not been the case.
As I mentioned above, sometimes you’re not always in the mood for doing or partaking in certain things. This is perfectly OK. The people who love and care about you will understand that too.