Personal Development

Living and Working with Mental Health

Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Fear, Pain,
I have found Mental Health to be the most disabling thing I have ever had to cope with. It is a battle that is fought independently and for the most part, the people you see on a daily basis, have no idea how exhausting and truly hard it is… Even to just stand there in front of them. But this is okay, and just because they may not know or understand doesn’t mean that there’s no point fighting.
Although mental health is a common issue, with 1 in 3 people suffering in some degree at some point in their life, it is still extremely difficult to speak out and be honest about your personal struggles. The stigma attached to mental health is decreasing at a rapid rate, yet it is still there and still very evident to the victims of the disease. Until this stigma is abandoned, living and working with mental health issues is much harder than it needs to be.
{Aside: My Background} I was diagnosed with clinical mental health issues when I was 18 years old, however I have been living with varying degrees in severity for as long as I can remember, when I hit puberty everything had got a lot worse though. Mental Health is horrible to live with, it has caused me to abandon the people and the things that I love, and stopped me from doing countless things. Mental Health not only affects you but everyone around you, and as you suffer with it you are painfully aware of how your suffering affects everyone else. This caused me to stop trusting people and letting them in, for fear of hurting them. It makes you lonely, fearful, and it puts a barrier between you and everyone else. For many many years I lived in fear of my actions and my inability to control my emotions. Even now, I still cannot trust freely, nor can I do things mid-way, my anxiety and depression created an “all or nothing” attitude, if I can’t be very good at it, then I won’t do it. I haven’t found a balance.
Although living with mental health is a challenge, I am still learning every day from those around me. So here are my top tips to living and working with mental health, and what coping mechanisms I have put in place:
[Disclaimer:] These tips are my opinions based on my own experiences, not based on factual information, they will not work for everyone, nor do I claim that they work at all, they just worked for me.
  1. Embrace change. For my whole life I have always buried my head in the sand or run as fast as I can away from my problems, because facing them is too much to handle. Therefore I learnt to embrace change, because sometimes the only way to run away was to physically move cities (I know it is extreme, I am still learning to not run and face my problems). If you embrace the changing world around you, it makes you much more versatile to unexpected things happening, and forces you to put coping mechanisms to deal with the changes. If I have had a sudden change in my life, then I will sit down and work out the benefits and the challenges this change has, as well as what I believe to be the best way forward from that point, I then change my routine, my habits and my attitude to fit in with that change, then I re-evaluate after a while to see if I need to change anything. This works well in a work situation because you can obtain feedback from peers and your boss; bosses like action plans, so by setting yourself deadlines to work towards, it helps with how your boss assesses you too.
  2. People do not always understand. Be ready for this, it is common knowledge that the best way to deal with mental health is to talk about it. However sometimes the people listening do not understand, and you are likely to receive resistance from them, so be prepared for this, do not get upset if they don’t understand because it may just be that they have never come across these issues before. The most important thing to do is make sure you explain what you do to feel better, and why you do the things you do. That way even if they don’t understand, they will be able to see what you are doing, and know that it is something you just need to do.
  3. Whatever you need to do, do it. Mental Health is an exhausting battle, so don’t make it harder for yourself. So if you feel like you need a duvet day, take one, If you need a friend to curl up on the sofa with you, and talk about the universe, call them and ask them to come over. If you don’t feel like going outside, then don’t.
  4. Know the difference between mental health and what you just don’t want to do. There is a big difference between what mental health stops you from doing, and things that you simply just don’t like doing. For example, I don’t really like heights, but I recognise that isn’t because of mental health, that’s just a phobia I have.
  5. Eat the right things. The healthiest way to look after your mind is to look after your body too. So put the right things in it, a healthy diet is a step closer to a healthy mind.
  6. Exercise often. As previously, a healthy body leads to a healthy mind. But exercise also releases endorphin and serotonin into your blood stream which naturally boosts your mood and reduces the effects of depression, anxiety and other mood lowering mental health issues.
  7. Accept who you are. Some of us make people laugh, others are good at maths and some are talented cooks, everyone is different, so focus on what you’re good at and accept what you are not.
  8. Drink Sensibly. The answer is never at the bottom of a bottle, or a pint, or your 10th shot. Alcohol is a depressant, so keep an eye on how much you consume, you don’t want to over do it and trigger something nasty! (I have had experience of this, it’s terrifying and very easy to completely loose control)
  9. Meditate, Yoga, Thai-chi… UNWIND. One of the methods that really helps me when I’m feeling panicked or unwell is to sit in a quiet space (or any space at all really) put my headphones on and listen to a guided meditation, relaxing music or sounds of beaches, forests and other relaxing sounds. This helps take my mind off of whatever I’m feeling anxious about and puts me in a better place. When at home, I try to stretch out my body through Thai-chi or yoga (I normally use YouTube videos, but sessions in the gym work too!!) and just relax my muscles. I then take a hot bath with some candles and some muscle relaxant bubble bath, with a face mask.
  10. Pampering. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I like to take a pamper day, where I concentrate on my physical and mental well being.

Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of, if you need any advice or support then feel free to comment below, or if you want to talk to me privately then feel free to contact me directly!

Please like this post and share your comments and additional advice below, lets pull together and support each other!

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