Another mental health post from some gal? You’re probably wondering.
It’s common knowledge now that we need to be made more aware of mental health.
This is a personal, raw post which to some element makes me feel somewhat vulnerable, however it is also something so important to me and I empathise with anyone feeling the same.
Warning: features an obligatory ‘look into the distance pic’ and blue puffer coat which will make a slight occurrence in future posts…
Whilst we are slowly becoming more aware of the impacts of mental health, there is still a bit of a way to go to make people aware of isolating it can be.
I know this because I have anxiety. I still find it difficult to talk to my friends and family about it without feeling like a burden. Some days I can feel on top of the world, whilst others are full of dark thoughts where it feels impossible to see any positivity in the world.
I’ve always known I have been a bit different in terms of how I feel; the feeling of not wanting to come across as selfish by constantly worrying about what other people think of you, how you look, sound, act.
There have been awful times where I have suddenly broken into a panic attack, not understanding the reason why, further leading into a downward spiral.
My mental health journey
Reflecting back on my mental health, it surprises me to think that it could have started all the way back to year six. I have always been wary of how I look which impacts on the way I think about myself and what others think of me, which makes me sad to think that little girl would soon go through a confusing time of conflicting thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed school – probably one of the best periods of my life! But, it didn’t come without its difficulties; every student being able to relate to the stresses of exams and wanting to do well, perhaps panicking about the future. What if I don’t get these grades?! Let me tell you and you’ve probably heard others say and they’re right; Do the best you can, they’re not as important as you think. I didn’t believe it either, but honestly they are right. The skills you gain are invaluable, but GCSEs are not the be-all and end-all.
I wish I could’ve said the same for college, with the pressures of wanting to get into university. I failed 3 out of 4 of my AS levels in my first year of college – and it was possibly the BEST THING to happen to me. I didn’t think it at the time. But, I carried on English Literature to A Level and got a C overall, as well as study a Business BTEC – despite the disapproval of the deputy head principal – alongside which I got top marks for; I was chuffed but it wasn’t without tears and hard work. During this time I saw the college councillor, but tried to avoid that I perhaps had an issue with my mental health, saying I would be fine after exams were done – but it is an ongoing adjustment of the mind. I did end up going to my GP and eventually an NHS councillor along with my mum, where it opened her up to the thoughts in my mind. This was a personal experience but has stayed with us both, so she has some sort of understanding of how I can feel.
This continued into university; I continued to fall into a decline, constantly comparing myself to others, losing confidence and not going out (not a helpful time when I’m not a fan of drink). I wanted to quit within the first 2 months, as well as a couple more times during that same year. Why did I stay? My friends. I formed a super close friendship with one of my classmates who is still a dear friend to this day and continues to support me even now during second year and my placement year.
I cannot stress how important it is to speak to friends and family about your thoughts and feelings. You may not realise how little some people know about how to respond to mental health, but listening is a good start. It is the same with my dad, seeing things as ‘black and white’ and I would say it is still an ongoing process until this day. There is also the process of being resilient of getting through each day.
For me, there are days when I love to be surrounded by friends and family, whilst others I am content being in my own company. However, it can often be about wanting to be alone, but not lonely. Just to know someone is there for you can be the slight difference of thought.
It was important for me to write this post whilst in an ‘okay’ mindset (I’m not sure if there ever is a perfect day), so I myself can come back to this to remind me it can get better, because I still get those days!
Let me tell you this, it is not as bad as you think it is. I get that it seems horrid at the time with no way out and am guilty of not reminding myself, but I’m gradually getting better at that.
Whilst I would love to provide a magic spell to ‘fix’ my mental health, there are some tips that I can recommend to ease the conflict going on in your mind if you are going through what I personally call a confusing and exhausting experience.
–Write your thoughts down: I know it sounds cheesy, but honestly you have to try it first. Making yourself think about your feelings can make you feel a little more fragile, but pouring them out onto a page soon releases them
–Talk. Open up to someone. Whilst they may not be able to help there and then, it is so important to let someone else know how you are feeling and that you are not alone. Just knowing someone is listening can make all the difference
–Exercise. It’s true, them endorphins from a workout can be so beneficial and to be honest, who regrets a workout? Whether it be going to the gym, or just going for a walk, take the time to connect with your mind and body and do it for you.
–It’s not as bad as you think. It’s very true. We are our own worst critics and fail to remind ourselves in dark times. I would recommend writing/typing your thoughts to provide some release. Who knows, you may be able to reflect at a later date when you’re in a more positive mindset to see how you made it through, or show it to a friend/family member. It is possible.
You are not alone. Please, if ever you feel in a dark or sad place there is help available.
-Samaritans: 24/7, Phone: 116 123 www.samaritans.org
-Speak to your GP. Book sooner rather than later. Your feelings can change by the time you have an appointment, but it is important to seek help before it gets worse
Photo credits: @redrabbitdesigns – thank you for your patience!