Mental health is just as important as physical health. It is something that we have all had to deal with at one point in our lives – some more than others. Although the conversation about mental illnesses and wellbeing has opened up a lot, many still don’t feel comfortable discussing it or getting help for it. If you are having a difficult time, please reach out to someone. There are many people and resources out there that want to help you, so don’t be ashamed to ask. You can always send me a message on Instagram (@relatablesunday) if you want to talk to someone.
Asking for help is not easy. It involves you having to understand and accept that you can’t do this alone. But guess what? No one can do it all by themselves. And although reaching out is scary and makes it real, it will benefit you so much. So don’t suffer in silence. This week I’m sharing a few things you can do to help you on your journey with mental health. This is based on my experience so please take everything with a grain of salt and get professional advice too!
Speak to your doctor
Your GP is one of the first people you can talk to. Keep in mind though that this should be a conversation, trying to figure out possible issues and how you could resolve them. The solution doesn’t have to be medication straight away, there are many ways to cope with mental health issues. But speaking to your doctor will allow you to open up to someone who will not judge you and who will be able to offer you professional guidance. Don’t be afraid to find a new GP if you don’t feel like you are getting the care and support you need from your current one. This isn’t an easy situation for you so you deserve to be taken care of properly.
I recently started seeing a counsellor at uni. I’ve only seen her twice so far but I can already see how this could benefit me in the long run. Although it is an amazing (and free) service that the uni provides, it is limited to a few sessions so as to give all students an equal amount of support. This is why I have made the decision to start seeing a counsellor privately, which will cost me. If you have the financial means to see a counsellor, I encourage that you do. No matter how much or how little you go see them, I can promise you that you will benefit from it. If you aren’t as “well-off”, there are other services you can (and should) access! Most universities and workplaces offer counselling – or at least contribute to the cost. There are also many resources online for counselling so do some research and find the best solution for you and your current situation!
I have heard a few people say that finding a counsellor is similar to dating: you have to find the right person. Because it is so personal it’s important that you find someone that you feel comfortable with. Different counsellors will also have different approaches to helping you. Some techniques might not work for you. Don’t feel bad if that is the case, it’s perfectly normal. Just do your research and find a new counsellor if your current one isn’t a match.
Mental health medication has a bad reputation. A lot of people think of it as something bad, something that you will become dependent on – or worse, addicted to. In my journey with mental health, I came to a scary point where my anxiety was taking over so much that I couldn’t live my life normally. It’s an awful feeling when that happens, you feel lost and like there is no hope. So I decided to go see my GP and have a conversation about starting on some anti-anxiety medication. There is lots to say about this topic so if you would like more info, get in touch by email or DM me on Instagram (@relatablesunday). I might make a seperate post on this one day.
The important thing to know is that, as with any medication, there are risks and side-effects involved. Sometimes you might have to try different meds until you find what one works best for you. It’s a difficult decision to make and people might frown upon it but I think shaming mental health medication has to stop. It is effective for many people and enabling them to live a more normal life. I’m not saying that medication is the solution however: it’s what you do with it that matters. Only taking the medication might not benefit you much in the long run, especially if it’s only a temporary prescription. It’s important that you work on yourself and on your issues alongside taking medication. I like to think of medication as crutches: a temporary tool to help you get back on your feet. Without this, you will probably end up back where you started. So keep on reading to find out some of the things you could do (seeing a counsellor is one of them too by the way)!
As mentioned previously, there are so many resources online. Whether it be online counselling, self-help books, podcasts, journals, meditations, etc. The list is endless. Do some research, find some good resources – you can use official government/health service websites that provide links to legitimate resources – and start working on your mental health.
It is so important to be proactive when it comes to your health and your mental health. Being proactive can mean something different for everyone. What is important though is that you find ways of dealing with your mental health and finding ways to cope with it. There are different ways to do so. As I’ve mentioned before, meditation is amazing for some people, so is yoga. For others, exercising regularly is extremely beneficial. Reading self-help books and listening such podcasts can also benefit you. It’s all about finding ways to help you cope with your mental health issues, no matter what they may be. Check out the Mental Health Foundation’s website for some amazing tips, resources and podcasts.
Find what works for you
We are all very different and thus, different things work for different people. Don’t feel discouraged if meditation doesn’t work for you or if the the thought of having to read something makes you gag. It’s important that you find what works for you and you only can decide what does and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try loads of different things though. I’m sure you will be surprised by what ends up working for you. I know it’s hard but don’t give up. You can do this, I believe in you!
Opening up to friends and family
I did not tell my family or my close friends about my struggles with mental health for a long time. Only my best friend and two other people knew how hard a time I was actually having. I felt ashamed and silly for having such bad anxiety over something seemingly insignificant (like going to class). I didn’t want the people I care about to see me as weak and pathetic. I was terrified of what they might think of me. I thought I’d be able to keep it from them while I sort myself out and then go back to the way things were.
But things will never go back to the way they were. You are going to change, you are going to have bad days and good days, you are going to celebrate small triumphs that you will want to share with your friends and family. And keeping something so huge from them is not easy and will weigh on you. So I suggest you find a good time to tell them, ideally in person in a space where you won’t be disturbed and feel comfortable in.
Keep in mind that the person in front of you might be shocked by what you are telling them, especially if you’ve never spoken about mental health before. But give them time to process things, let them ask questions and reassure them that you are taking steps towards getting better. If they truly love you, they will support you no matter what. If they aren’t being supportive, give them some time. It’s difficult to see someone you love suffer and some people just don’t know how to handle it. They will come around eventually. And if they don’t, then maybe they aren’t worth having around. The people closest to you should be your allies, so choose them wisely.
You are not alone
When we aren’t in the best place mentally, our minds often like to spiral and make us believe that there is no hope and that we are alone. However, many people have (or at some point had) some issues related to mental health. It’s part of being human. When we feel like shit though, it’s difficult to take comfort in the fact that we are not the only person suffering. So I suggest that you reach out, either to people that you know and are close with, or by finding a community – in real life or online. Please remember that you do not have to suffer in silence, you shouldn’t. You deserve to get help, to get better, and you will. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger so focus on what you are learning from these hard times and kick some ass in the future.
Here it is, my post about reaching out and getting help for your mental health. Please bear in mind that I am in no way a professional and am just speaking from personal experience. If you are having mental health troubles or you think that you might have, make an appointment with your GP. If you want to know more about my mental health journey or if you’re wanting to chat about anything in this (or previous) post, message me on Instagram (@relatablesunday) or email me (email@example.com). Hope you have an amazing week and I look forward to seeing you next Sunday!