I’ve had this post chilling in my drafts for a good two weeks. Today has been the first time I’ve read it since and I’m not ashamed to admit I had a little cry as my eyes took in the words and advice I’ve preached but over the course of the last week, haven’t actually taken onboard myself. That’s the thing with anxiety and depression – we hope nobody ever has to go through what we battle and some of us can dish out little gems of advice but when it comes to applying them to our own life, we struggle. The last fortnight has been a massive rollercoaster for me. I thought I was finally making progress and tried my hardest to capitalise on those good days by making overly ambitious plans for the near future only to be left bitterly disappointed when one day, I suffered some stressful setbacks and reverted back to my negative “I’m never going to get over this, I’m so alone, maybe this is me forever” mindset.
Although the last week has been a rocky, uphill battle, I’ve gone from crying over an hour ago to sitting reading this post, proud of the advice I’m about to share and smiling. It’s made me realise why sharing my side and experience via my blog is so worth it because today, I was the person who needed to read this post and I was the person it helped. This was written by me on one of my better days and it’s given me the little reassurance I needed to know, I can do better than today and I will get my mindset back – I do literally need to take a leaf out of my own book. So despite right now not feeling like it’s all going to plan, here are some key things to keep in mind when you do hit these negative spells and why it’s important to take care of yourself as best you can, remember you’re not alone and that you will get through it.
SEEKING HELP AGAIN IS A STEP FORWARD, NOT BACK
Seeking help is one of the most daunting aspects of a mental health condition. We hear so much about the stigma surrounding mental health that plucking up the courage to speak about it can be one of the hardest things to do – I know it’s something that took me a long time to do out of fear of being judged. Seeing my GP, the local community mental health team and the different therapists I have dealt with during the lifespan of my anxiety and depression is one of the best decisions I ever made. I knew I needed to be help and I can’t even bear to think where or what my life would be like if I didn’t take that step. Once I was recovering, it felt like everything started to decline quite rapidly but the thought of going back to my GP, felt like I had failed. I didn’t realise that instead, this was massive progress. Rather than waiting for things to reach rock bottom, I was noticing signs that weren’t right and proactively made the positive step to nip things in the bud. It’s really important to remember that noticing things changing means that your learning more and more about your condition as time goes on and it’s something that is very invaluable. Having that insight and being able to spot signs that things are deteriorating shows growth, progress and a deeper understanding of who you are.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
Although it might feel like your constant feelings of anxiety and helplessness will last forever, you can and will learn to live with your mental health condition. There is no cure but I’m a firm believer in time being the biggest healer. Remember that tough time you had before that you never thought you’d overcome? Or that time you had your heart smashed into tiny little pieces by someone and thought you’d never move on? If you reflect back, you will more than likely have examples of times in your life were you never thought you’d move on from something and chances are 99% that you have. Never look at your depression or anxiety as permanent – there are so many different therapies, medications, coping mechanisms out there to try. It’s all trial and error which can be frustrating but you will find something that works for you eventually. Although it’s hard, be patient.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
In the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. 1 in 10 people will suffer from a disabling anxiety disorder at one point in their lives – just let those numbers sink in. Those are staggering proof that you are not alone. You are not experiencing something that isn’t ‘normal’ or makes you ‘different’ as we sometimes feel – you are going through something that is massively common in todays society. If you feel like you’re alone or don’t have the support system you need in place or anybody you feel understands your situation, there are plenty of support groups, organisations and charities out there you can reach out to. If you use google to find support groups in your area, you’d be surprised at just how many are on offer. Support groups can help you build confidence, learn to become more open about what you’re going through and also, give you the opportunity to meet people who have an understanding of how you feel. Of course, going to these groups can be daunting but it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your own home, there are mental health forums and twitter chats which take place every week, where you can chat via the internet/social media. Just flicking through some of the mental health hashtags on Twitter can be so reassuring to know there is a large online community on the platform openly chatting and offering help/support to others.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN BIGGEST CHEERLEADER
Sometimes if we’ve gone through anxiety or depression and got ourselves better, we take relapse incredibly hard. If we’ve gotten into a routine that works for us, made positive changes and battled through the good and bad, being stuck back in a negative mindset once again can be one of the most heart sinking realisations ever. What’s key is that you don’t pit yourself and against yourself. Fighting how you feel and being angry at yourself for thinking or feeling what you are is only going to make you feel worse. We’re already fighting a battle within ourselves and beating ourselves up for thinking or feeling a certain way is a recipe for disaster. Acknowledge your feelings, take steps to vent and dig deeper as to why you might feel that way and praise yourself for being able to be honest about how you feel. You need YOU on your side.
It’s taken me a long time to be able to grasp all of the above. I always felt like going back to my GP or going back on medication was a sign of failure. I’d start to hate myself and get angry at how I let myself get back to that point, instead of recognising the personal growth. If someone ever told me that I could start to see myself sliding and notice it, I’d of laughed in your face. Now I’m more intuitive and proud that I can hold my hands up and say something isn’t right and take the correct steps to turning it around than leaving it to fester like I used to. Battling a mental health condition is a massive learning curve but it’s one you will win and one that will make you learn so much about your own strength and determination. What did you think of this post? What do you like to keep in mind or do when you feel your mental health starting to slip? I’d love to hear your thoughts below or you can tweet/IG me at @whatamydid. Thanks for reading.