So I’m going to go ahead and do something that I try not to normally; talk about myself. This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week and I feel it only courteous to talk to you all about my personal struggles over the years, and try and shed some light on what we can all do to help.
Due to many personal struggles and issues I have been living with anxiety and depression for over 5 years now. At the beginning it was quite scary. It came out of the blue and hit me really hard. I started to crawl inside this shell, put walls up and cut myself off from the outside world. It got to the point where I could hardly go out at all apart from school and family events. I absolutely hated it. Not only does it affect yourself, but it can affect the people around you. I pushed away from my family, a lot of the times letting my anger for the anxiety out on my parents. And I hated, and still hate, myself for it.
Around the second year in to it I decided that I’d had enough. I needed help. I went to my doctor, was prescribed medication and referred to a counsellor. I was officially diagnosed; anxiety and depression. Now at this point I had yet to tell my friends what was really happening. Whenever they asked me to go out I simply told them I was sick or was already busy. Believe me I wish I hadn’t done that now, as it got to the point where they didn’t ask me out already knowing that I would say no. This is when things changed for me. It was time for me to talk. I wrote letters, emails, sent texts and wrote a mass Facebook post. I told everyone I knew exactly what was happening and what I was going through. And they understood. It’s scary to think what my life would be now if I hadn’t have taken that simple step to tell people how I was feeling. Would they still be excluding me from things?
Now don’t get me wrong, my friends are the most understanding out there. Once I had explained everything they helped me through it, each in their own little ways. But my biggest support has been my parents and my brother. They took everything I threw at them. If I was stressed over an exam they would talk to me about it, if I got angry at them they would calm me down and reason with me on my actions. They were there, and that’s all I needed them to be. I take them for granted sometime’s, they have helped me so much, but I will forever be grateful for everything they have done and continue to do.
4 years on and I still get anxious sometimes, there are days when I am sad or stressed about things and for good reason, but I try not to let it control me.
So here are my top tips for coping with your mental health:
- Get Out – I know it may be hard for many of you to get out of the house, but let’s start with the little things. First step: get out of bed. This may be hard some days, but believe me you feel so much better once you get going.
- Bananas – This may seem like a weird one, but bananas are great! They’re a great source of potassium and can really help to kickstart those blue days. They have a high level of tryptophan, which converts to seratonin in your body, aka the happy mood. I make sure to eat one every day.
- Sleep – Sometimes it can be hard to sleep with all the thoughts going through your head, I know that first hand. But the quicker you get in to a sleeping routine, the better you will start to feel. Also don’t deny yourself those little naps during the day, they are great for motivation. But try not to sleep the day away!
- Fitness – A healthy body = a healthy mind. Whether it’s walking to the shops, cycling the local country lanes or going for a quick jog. Make sure you’re active at least 30 minutes each day.
- People – Make sure to have people around you. Even if you’re not talking and you’re each doing your own thing, it’s always nice to know that there is someone there.
- Yourself – A bit of a contradiction to the prior but sometimes you need that time to yourself. Whether you just need to go for a walk on your own, that space from other people can do the world of good.
- Passion – Find something you’re truly passionate about and try to do it as often as possible. For me that’s reading. If I’m feeling slightly antsy or low about something, I’ll pick up a book and it will in turn pick up my mood.
- Talk – This is the big one. If you’re feeling low about something, or worried about going somewhere, tell someone. Sure they may not understand right away, but as long as you’re voicing your concerns they can help you. If you don’t talk, nothing will change.
Believe me, I understand that it won’t go away overnight. There is no quick fix. But you can fight it, you can push through and not let it own your life. I didn’t, and I turned out alright.