We are now heading into summer, we’ve had some gorgeous weather here in the UK (as well as some extreme downpours but then we are in Britain, it would be weird if it were nice all the time), it feels like we’re already in summer rather than in spring, especially this and the last bank holiday we had- stunning weather!
As well as this apparent great weather, the month of May also brings with it the month of mental health awareness. I always feel so much more positive and energised when it’s sunny outside, cold weather makes me want to curl up on my sofa with a hot chocolate and watch TV. As someone who suffers with their mental health and who has friends and family who have suffered with various invisible illnesses I thought I would use this month of blogs to give a platform to those who may not otherwise have used their voice, or to discuss things that we need to remove the stigma from, so I will start with a post on what mental health means to me then over the next few weeks you will hear from some of the other people in my life and how they are effected by mental illness, physical illness and how they look after their mental health.
I have always (well, for over a decade anyway) known I had some kind of mental health issue or mental illness but I didn’t get diagnosed with anxiety and depression until March 2018.
I had been to see 3 Doctors about it in the few years previous to this but the first Dr almost laughed me out of the room and said I was just a bit down because I’d been recently dumped (I knew it was something a lot deeper than that especially as I’d been suffering similar feelings throughout as well as prior to the ended relationship but she was a ‘professional’ so I was stupid enough to believe her and just walk out of her room…).
The second Dr was a lovely man who listened to all my theories, what I’d researched online, my self diagnosis, what I thought might be my triggers and he referred me on to the mental health department in the local hospital. However, to get an appointment to be seen with the mental health specialists I had to wait, this took over 6 months, in that time I have got an offer to go to drama schools so was on the way to accomplishing my then-dream of becoming a professional actor, I’d met someone online (my still-boyfriend Rob), I’d moved in with my grandparents to save money for London so I wasn’t isolated and alone in my own flat because even if my grandparents weren’t in their cat would always come and give me cuddles, I was also in a job I actually enjoyed and was earning enough money to get by, save and treat myself. Basically, life was good, I was on a massive high with all the positive things that had come about in the recent months and I was so excited about living in London, meeting new people and starting a new career. By the time I went to the appointment I was on such a mental high there was no reason to refer me on, no need for medication, no need for therapy or anything so they sent me away.
The third (and fourth) doctors appointment was booked following multiple conversations with my team leader at work- thank you so much Heidi- who could see something was going on, we spoke about all sorts of things and it turned out that I’d had a large amount of my triggers coming at me at once and it had caused me to put up barriers at work that I hadn’t even noticed, we spoke about my personal triggers, work triggers and my team leader thought it best I talk it out with a medical professional, that day I managed to get an appointment and after speaking to the dr I was signed off work for two weeks for anxiety, depression and stress. I was given medication (but refused to take it initially which is where the 4th appointment comes in as I spoke to another dr specifically about the medication, other treatment options and to reassure me the pills weren’t going to ruin me), I then took citalopram for 12 months.
The journey I had with mental health took far too long for me to recognise it, for some reason I only started really looking after it once I’d been given a label of what it was I was trying to defeat. I now try to practice self care and acceptance every day.
If I don’t have the energy to do my chores I have learned to forgive myself because I know I will get to them eventually- plus it’s only me that lives here so if it’s a bit messy, who else really cares?
If I get home from work and I don’t have the energy to cook a healthy meal it’s ok because I batch cook quite often so there’s usually a portion of something in the freezer I can heat up.
If I watch Netflix all evening and end up not doing any exercise I can forgive myself because I’m relatively happy with my body how it is at the moment anyway (I always want to be healthier but if I miss one of my 30 day work out days it’s not going to kill me).
I write multiple to do lists all the time and I have several different diaries because I know I will forget to do things, as long as the really important stuff doesn’t get neglected I can forgive myself for that too.
My journey now that I’ve gradually taken myself off of my antidepressants is to practice self love and acceptance, to forgive myself for mistakes, to look after my mind, body and soul, to make a small step each day towards the future I dream of, to be ok with rejection, to keep trying.
What I find helpful some of the time are the MANY mental health/body positivity/positive thinking pages I follow on social media. Here is a not-so-little list:
I also listen to Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast after a recommendation from a friend earlier on this year (thank you Taz) which I thoroughly recommend and the Do It Scared podcast by Ruth Soukup which is great when I need a little boost in motivation.
Are there other pages or podcasts you would recommend I follow as well? Do you follow any of these yourself? How do they help you?
Until next time, TTFN
What does mental health mean to you? How do you look after yours? Any tips for people on their journey of recovery? Let me know in the comments
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