I learnt the hard way that mental health recovery isn’t linear. It isn’t about suddenly not self-harming, not wanting to die any more… I hope that my blog has shown this so that it doesn’t give people a misunderstanding in the way that I had. So as well as making this point, I wanted my blog to also support others as they learn this too…
1. Feeling like you’ll never stop crying?
It has to. It has to stop eventually. But crying doesn’t have to be a bad thing – it doesn’t make you weak. You can view crying as a relief. It can almost be cathartic and therapeutic to allow the pent-up emotions, thoughts, and feelings leave your body in a – physically – painless way.
2. Desperate for a distraction?
Be creative about this. A distraction doesn’t have to be the usual ones that mental health professionals ferociously advertise and recommend; like watching TV or reading a book. It can be cooking your favourite meal or going for a walk, completing a wordsearch, playing an online game, or de-cluttering your shelves.
Anger doesn’t have to be a negative emotion. It’s all about how you manage it. Does it mean you’re unsafe? Does it mean you push people away? Or can it just be a natural response to a particular situation? Can it be an anger that anyone would feel? Can you cope with it in a healthy, and safe way? There’s the age-old advice of screaming into or hitting a pillow but there’s so many more productive things you can do too! Like throwing yourself into your work, education, or hobby. Letting go of anger can be one of the most powerful actions.
4. Having paranoid thoughts around your medication?
Remember people who are trained in this believe you need to be on it, and they don’t believe this for no reason. If you’re worried its poison then tell someone and I promise that they can reassure you and will find a way to prove that it’s safe to take your medication.
5. Thoughts to self-harm?
They’re allowed. You’re allowed to have those thoughts still. It doesn’t mean you’re ‘going backwards.’ And it definitely doesn’t mean that you have to act on them! If you’re having difficulty managing the thoughts using all of your healthy safe coping strategies, then please tell someone. Get help. No one will judge you for it.
6. Lost someone/something you love?
I made this into ‘something’ because I wanted to talk about losing a pet too and some people wouldn’t agree that they are a ‘someone!’ I’ve talked a lot about grief recently after the loss of my four-year-old cat Dolly six months ago. Losing a human, no matter what your relationship to them, is inevitably challenging and incredibly saddening but again, it’s about how you cope with the loss. Does it become something that makes you want to join them? Or does it become something that makes you want to make them proud?
7. Struggling with anxiety on public transport?
I don’t know if it will help to tell you that this is so completely common among people with anxiety and/or mental health problems. I’d like to think that knowing this will make you feel less alone and maybe even more hopeful to think that there’s a lot of people who’re coping with this issue and working through it and managing to still live their lives to the fullest. You wouldn’t think that with all of the travelling I do, I have anxiety whilst doing it but that’s because I manage it, I cope with it, and I continue with my life.
8. Newly diagnosed medical condition?
Join the boat! Medical conditions are a lot different to mental health and as much as people say that they’re equal, they are definitely different. Personally, physical problems through me off because I feel like I’m getting a handle on my mental health and coming to understand it and then this new, unexpected, unpredictable thing comes along… The way I try to look at it is that it took me ten years to come to grips with my mental health so I’ll be damned if I’m going to let my medical health knock me back within a year! For help coming to terms with your new diagnosis or difficulty, make sure you talk to your Doctors and healthcare professionals to ensure that you understand any complications or side-effects and any specialist support available to you.
9. Fallen out with a friend?
This is made particularly hard where that friend has seen you through your mental health difficulties. It’s always initially difficult to accept the end of a friendship and it might even be something you try to avoid at all costs by putting yourself out there and apologizing or ‘backing down.’ But you have to accept that if this is the end of the friendship then maybe that’s for a reason? As hard as it might be… There’re also the occasions where sometimes you just naturally drift apart. Every friendship is unique, and it would be wrong of me to try and advise you here but just remember that it isn’t the amount of people you have in your life but the meaning and importance that each of them has for you.
10. Feeling bad about your body?
I chose this heading because it’s quite general and there are so many aspects of body image and confidence – or lack of – that can affect your mental health recovery. Anything around diet is something that really needs to be discussed with your GP or any mental health professional in charge of your care. Body confidence and self esteem is something that can’t, technically, be rectified by a professional. They can talk at you until they’re blue in the face; if your thoughts and opinions stem from something a lot deeper then it’s something that you need to work on. That doesn’t mean without help, though!
11. Convinced you’ve failed at something?
So long as you learn from it, it wasn’t a failure. And always remember, if someone you care about told you they’d done the same thing, would you call them a failure? Would you say they’d failed? Then why should you say it about yourself?
12. Suicidal thoughts?
Now this is where you should ask for help. I’m definitely one of those people who tries to make it through difficult times herself but I’ve learnt to recognize instances where it’s actually necessary to speak to someone. Instances where it’s ok to need help to be ok. And suicidal thoughts are one of those instances because they’re so - potentially - very dangerous. With Borderline Personality Disorder (or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) thoughts and feelings can be incredibly overwhelming and yet so fleeting that you get so lost in those thoughts and feelings that you can’t see an end to them. Suicidal thoughts mean that your life could be at risk because you can’t see any other light at the end of the tunnel.
13. Difficulty concentrating with your education or work?
Allow yourself to be distracted for a particular length of time and then stop. It can – sometimes – be that simple. There’s a reason that something else is distracting you so – where possible – allow it to. Take control at a time when you feel that you have no control over doing what you ‘should’ be doing.
14. Thinking of getting a new pet?
Getting a pet is actually a huge decision that shouldn’t be taken as lightly as some people take it! You’re bringing a new life into your home. It might not be a human but it’s still a life! You’re going to be responsible for a life, so you better make damn sure that you’re ready to do that! Ensure your home is appropriately ready – make sure it’s the right environment for this new life, and make sure you take in the greatest possibly matched life for you (going to recommend Cat Protection’s little form here because they do a great job at ensuring you go home with the perfect cat for you.
15. Being bullied online?
Everyone’s tolerance is different. Someone might be more vulnerable to being offended or criticized than another person. Bullies can find ammunition in everyone and anyone though. You see it all the time online when you find a blogger or YouTuber you really admire and then you see someone belittling them and you wonder how someone managed to find something wrong with them! I’m a firm believer in reporting any sort of online abuse to the Police because sometimes that’s the only way the bully will learn and the only way to put a stop to it.
16. Feeling lost?
It can be such a scary feeling, but I look at it as though you have to get a little bit lost for adventures to begin! You might feel like you don’t know what you’re doing with your life; like you don’t know what to do with your education or whether your job is taking you down the right path.
17. Questioning your strength?
I’ve recently been having a lot of difficulties with my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) after she said that it was unrealistic of me to think that I might never self-harm again. Our first appointment since then she said a lot of other things but the one that was relevant to this was when she said that giving up comes easy to me. I told her that after everything I’ve gone through, I’d hope that she had more faith in me. I feel as though I’m the only person with any right to question my own strength and when I do? I remind myself of all the challenges I’ve already overcome, and question whether this one should be the one that breaks me.
18. Missing someone from the past?
This could literally mean anyone; an old partner, a family member, anyone that has had even the smallest of impacts on your life. But you have to wonder whether that person would want you to spend your time missing them or whether they’d prefer you to be living your life and making the most of it.
19. Thinking of missing an appointment with a professional?
Be honest, will doing so hinder your recovery?
20. Got a full workload?
I definitely know that feeling! In being a Blogger, I’ve learnt that the industry often means that for some time there’s absolutely nothing going on and you have to make work for yourself and then sometimes, there’s a million and one things to do! People have advised me to make schedules or timetables when I do have a full workload but I prefer to just prioritize things so that if there’s pieces with deadlines, I get them done in the right order. But it’s also important to take time out – as reluctant as you might be to do so – and have some me-time. When I was packing to go stay with one of my best-friends in Coldstream (blog post to come!) I made the decision not to take my laptop with me because I knew that if I did, the second I had some spare time I’d be on it checking on emails and doing ‘work.’