I thought I'd do a little blog post about what I have found has helped me with coping with my mental health disorders - I'm just in that sort of mood today! It's important to note that I am not in any way a professional, these are simply some tips and tricks I have learnt that have helped me personally with my illnesses.
I have also posted some links at the bottom of this post of resources when you can find information, support and advice.
This one speaks for itself. Please, please, PLEASE, just talk about how you're feeling. Whether that's a GP, a family member, a colleague, a close friend or even a Samaritan, make sure you can express what you're going through. Opening up about your illness may seem daunting, and understandably so (I've been there!) but there's plenty of support available on how to approach this subject. Letting your loved ones know about your illness gives them an opportunity to support you (should you want this) and to help you through this difficult time. Remember - if you had any other illness, you wouldn't be worried about asking for help.
2. TAKE TIME OUT.
I'm a strong believer in this. Taking a day or two out to recuperate is vital in giving you some head space. If your depression is making everything seem too tough, then throw on some lounge pants, grab that whopper sized bar of chocolate and stick on a Disney movie. You're not a bad person for wanting to shut yourself away from Facebook/Twitter/mobile phone for one day. If you have the flu, you wouldn't think twice about going to bed and staying there until you need the loo! It's important to realise there is a difference between taking the time out to recover and becoming more ill, so try keep track if possible. Set yourself a limit and then gradually add small tasks to build up your strength again. For example, "I've been feeling rather low this weekend, so Monday I'll have some 'me' time. I'm not going to commit to anything or anyone, and instead just take the day as it comes. On Tuesday, I'll make sure I'm out of bed at 8am and put one load of washing on. If I feel up to it, I'll make a phone call to a loved one." And so on.
3. KNOW YOUR OPTIONS.
Perhaps you've only recently been diagnosed or maybe you feel as though you want to see what other options are available to you in terms of support. It's important to make yourself aware of what's around you so you can make informed decision about your treatment and therapy options. Make an appointment with your GP to have discussions about medication, onsite counsellors or referrals. Remember, you can ask for a double appointment slot should you feel as though you require it. Look at local charities, such as Mind, who offer a variety of different support options and are a massive hub of information for those who suffer with mental health disorders and the people around them. Places such as Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with benefits (along with providing support on a whole host of other topics) should you not be able to work due to your illness. Surrounding yourself with this information will help you feel in control of your own personal situation, and give you the confidence you need to look after yourself.
4. EAT WELL.
Yes, a boring one, I know. I'm not very good at this part, but it has been proven that a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise helps with some mental health disorders. This can be very hard to do, especially if you are lacking motivation, but the reward is great. Try to avoid caffeine, foods and drinks with high sugar content and reduce your alcohol intake. Instead, try eating oily fish, plenty of greens, up your water intake, and get out in the sunshine. You don't have to spend two hours in the gym six times a week - just walking the dog for twenty minutes or having a dance while you're doing the ironing counts.Citizens Advice Bureau It doesn't have the be anything extreme, just enough to get your heart rate up. You'll feel good for making the effort and the endorphin's released will make you want to get that "high" again.
5. TAKE NOTICE.
If you can only do it once a day, take notice of your surroundings. Be aware of the "here and now", the present moment. Take the time out to eat a meal and taste every single flavour. Sit on the sofa and be aware of which parts of your body are connecting with the sofa. Go outside and sit in the garden, listen to the noises around you, feel the breeze on your skin. Listen to your favourite song and listen to every single note, every song word. Make a cup of tea and savour every sip. You'll learn to become more mindful which can calm the mind of thoughts, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Minds Like Ours - A growing community for those suffering with a mental health illness BY people with a mental health illness. They have a Facebook support group and a forum and are dedicated to helping raise awareness.
Mind - The mental health charity. They have an Infoline, a Legal Advice Service, information pages and your local Mind can help you with help and support in the area you live.
Samaritans - The Samaritans are there to talk 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Talk to them about whatever is getting to you, you do not have to be suicidal.
Time To Change - Want to have a conversation about mental health but not sure where to start? Go here! It's your one-stop-shop for all things "talk" with plenty of tips and advice on how to start a conversation.
Citizens Advice Bureau - They provide free, confidential and impartial advice to everyone about a variety of things including financial support, housing support, and your rights.