Ways to deal with mental health issues from one person to another… I write this as a nearly 34-year-old who has always had and is currently under treatment for mental health issues, knowingly from the age of 2 upwards. The first noticeable memory was when I was living in Germany due to both my parents being deployed there with the Armed Forces. I had to attend a Speech Therapist as I couldn’t speak or pronounce things correctly (and some would say I still can’t today, LOL). As I headed into secondary school I suffered from a lot of bullying, and hatred from other kids for being “different”. By different, I mean enjoying punk, rock, and alternative music. I also loved skateboards, along with only really having one friend, who is still my very best friend to this day. Classmates would put bubblegum in hair, set my hair alight, or they would throw egg and flour into it. This bullying sent me into a state of depression, which resulted in self-harm. At this point, I didn’t care, and I threw myself into underage drinking, and getting wasted, and would sometimes sleep in the local park until 8 am. I’d then sneak home because by that point my parents were at work, and all the while they thought I was at a friends’ house, staying over. I began physically hurting myself with everyday objects and would fall out with my family on a day-to-day basis. At the age of nearly 17, I got together with my first real boyfriend. I thought everything was great, but looking back, I know now it was a bad relationship, and he wasn't the person I thought he was. I knew I had to get out. One day, I had that eureka moment, and something snapped, I knew for me to feel and do better, I had to stop this and that’s when I started to look to the past to learn from my mistakes, and began to improve myself, as I not only hurt myself but I hurt the people who cared about me the most – my friends and family. I have friends who have been killed, friends who have committed suicide, as things got too much for them, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, ever. Now, this isn’t a story for people to feel sorry for me, it’s far from it. I have shared this story to show people that wherever you are in life, whatever stage, whatever your background; you can always take time to embrace yourself, love yourself and make yourself feel better. I know people have been through far more than me, and I just want you to know you’re a hero, because you are still here, and you are a living testimony that you can overcome anything! It is also important that we learn from the past, and forgive ourselves too. However, here are some tips that I follow to help me when I’m feeling low and also why find them super productive, and helpful:
Self-reflection: It's important for you to self-reflect from time to time, whether this be a daily 10-15 minutes, make sure you do it. It gives you the opportunity to question yourself, understand what’s working well, what isn’t, re-analyse your goals and work out how best to achieve them.
Listen to music: I always find listening to music helps me to de-stress and is an outlet in which to escape from the day-to-day pressures of daily life.
Look at your diet: I know personally that if I eat a lot of sugar, it helps in the short term. However, in the long-term, it isn’t that helpful for me. By sticking to a balanced diet of fruit, plenty of veg and water I am not only helping my brain, but it helps me achieve my goals in terms of weight loss. Also, I sometimes cut out alcohol as a short-term measure (but in all fairness, it’ll never be permanent as I like a drink, or two).
Look at positive things each day: Whether this is a positive quote, picture, or article, I truly believe this helps a lot. It reminds you that not everything is doom and gloom. We can often be over-exposed to negative situations, and news stories each day (especially in the current climate), and it is a great idea to focus on the positive things happening around us, and positive news stories.
Have a good support network: I had a massive issue (which I still am working on) that I didn’t want to speak to anyone about my problems as I always thought that I would burden them with it. However, true friends and family are there for you no matter what and it's never a burden. I have friends and family from all over the world and I am grateful for them all, they are the more amazing people and I am entirely grateful to them. We may not speak every day, week or year, I know they are there for me no matter what, so a big thank you.
Take a break from social media: Social media is a great tool, it helps us connect to the world around us, and keeps us in touch with our loved ones during these unprecedented times. However, it can also be detrimental to our mental health. We can suffer from the “fear of losing out”, compare ourselves to others, and feel under pressure to conform to the social media trends. I recently made the decision to take a break from some platforms to focus on me. I know people can get drawn into the burden of scrolling for no reason, and waste time. The people I interact with on social media are wonderful, amazing and give me confidence, and so much love. But I also know that the world of social media can be a toxic environment, and that’s why I am taking a break. It is all about getting the balance just right.
I hope some of these tips help you, but if you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. I am here if you want to chat, rant, laugh or just need a virtual hug. Remember to laugh, smile, enjoy life because you are here and you are a lot stronger than you think or even know. My email is email@example.com if anyone wants to reach out to chat, or wants my number to talk. Below are some sites, and charities that provide and support. They are also really close to my heart - I'd always recommend reaching out if you need some help, we are always here to listen: Andy’s Man Club - www.andysmanclub.co.uk - This charity was set up on behalf of my friend's brother who committed suicide. It provides a safe, and open place for men to talk openly and honestly about whatever issues are affecting them. Punk Rock Saves Lives - www.punkrocksaveslives.org - The name says it all! And for obvious reasons, I love this charity! Flogging Molly Cruise Shipmates - https://www.facebook.com/groups/floggingmollycruiseshipmates - Because, well everyone is AWESOME! Thank you for getting this far, the battle is tough but our outcomes are amazing! Keep fighting, you got this. Love, Lucy.