In honour of mental health awareness month and week (16-22 May with the theme of relationship) I thought I would share some things that I would share with my younger self if I could and anyone going through a similar thing. I was going to do a letter to my younger self type thing but didn’t know where to start so I’m just going to do some bullet points instead. Mental health is such an important issue and it is vital that people suffering with it feel able to talk about what they are going through. Talking is such an important step towards recovery. We are all in this together because the likelihood is if you are not suffering with mental health issues than someone you know probably is and they could most likely use your help. Here we go.
Talk about it. I think it is so important to be open about mental health and for sufferers to feel like they can talk about it. I know first hand how helpful it is to talk about it. I was struggling with my mental health and self harming for around 7 or 8 years before I broke down and told my family about my issues. It was hard but it was the best thing that happened. I now feel able to talk about my struggles openly. Ten years ago I would never have imagined being able to talk about it here on the internet but here I am.
Remember that you are your own unique person, therefore comparing yourself to others is pointless and unhelpful. Everyone is different. Yes there will be people out there who can do things better than you can, but you can probably do something they can’t. I used to compare myself to my sister – she’s pretty clever and I used to feel inferior to that intelligence. Now I accept the fact that we learn differently but that does not mean that I am not clever as well.We are just different.
Create a little sanctuary for yourself, for example your bedroom. Fill it with things you love (eg. candles, music, art, books etc) and make it a place you love spending time in – a place you can retreat to if you need to.
Storms will pass. I know when you are in the middle of the storm it can seem like there is no end in sight but it is important to remember that it won’t last forever. Try to focus on the good times and surround yourself with people you love + trust and you will pull through it. If you struggle with self harm, try to find things to district you – do something that you love doing or try the ice cube trick. The ice is so cold that you still get the pain with no lasting damage.
Be kinder and more compassionate to yourself. Sometimes when you are in a low place, just getting up and dressed in the morning is an achievement so don’t beat yourself up for having a “lazy day”. This is something that I am continually working on at the moment – questioning any unhelpful thoughts when I notice them and asking myself whether I actually deserve them. It can be tricky and it will take time but it is so worth it for your mental health.
Relapses are perfectly OK. If you have self-harmed for any length of time than you may have trouble stopping it. I was self harming sporadically for 7 years before I told my family and decided things needed to change (in 2013). Three years later and I have self-harmed a few times. The last time was December 2015. That is OK. I think relapse is a bad word for it – in my mind it has bad connotations but I couldn’t think of another word to use so bear with me. For me, and many others, it becomes a habit and it can be hard to break. It is not impossible and it will be hard but please do not see it as a weakness or as if you’ve failed if you self harm again. It will take time and effort but you can do it. There will be bumps in the road along the way. That is life.
Find your own path. With any mental health part of it will be finding your own way to cope. I know it is daunting but we are all different and so there is no set way to recovery. You may learn ways to cope from a variety of places, but really it comes down to you and what works for you.
It is OK to say that you are struggling and finding it hard to cope. It is OK to ask for help. You don’t need to do it alone. It is not a sign of weakness and everyone needs help throughout life.
I hope this is helpful in some way. I am very passionate about mental health and starting a discussion about it – I feel like it is my duty (not in a bad way) to open up about my experiences as I am in a place that I feel comfortable talking about it and now have a platform I can share it on. I would love/appreciate any feedback on this and feel free to contact me on any of my social media – they are all linked on my blog. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and remember you are a beautiful human being.
Here are some sites that may be helpful:
Click here for Young Minds website
Click here for Mind website
Click here for the NHS site – for helplines
Click here for Time to change site – for helplines
Click here for the Samaritans site – 24 hour helpline
See you next time.