Why Sleep Is So Important For My Mental Health

I love to sleep. For me the idea of curling up in PJs at the weekend and getting a solid 10 hours is bliss. I know, I know, I’m 23 years old, surely I don’t need that much sleep. I thought so too until I worked out that, actually, sleep can completely change my mental state. So, why is sleep so important for my mental health?

Before I had Depression or Anxiety, I knew that if I didn’t sleep, I wasn’t in the best mood. My sister is the same if we’re tired we’re easily annoyed and I get particularly emotional. Joy of joys but I could deal with it, I was just grumpy doing so. Then when I was a teenager I realised that a lack of sleep meant much more, it made me get a lot sicker. I struggled with my emotions, even more, to make sense of what was going on with me. It took on another meaning.

In my recovery and fight with mental illness over the past decade, I’ve had to make sleep a priority. And I’ve also had to be kinder to myself. In uni pulling an allnighter wasn’t an option for me, the emotional drain the next day from not sleeping was not worth it. I started making sure I had a plan for busy times to make sure I could get my 8 hours and be as mentally healthy as possible. Did it always work? Of course, it didn’t! But I had the knowledge and knew that sometimes if I felt down that was why.

Just as I managed that and was happy, I broke my spine. Even after I recovered I found the fatigue getting worse and worse, impacting me mentally and physically.  Eventually, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which meant sleep was even more important as it now impacts me physically.

Why am I writing about this? A lot of people who prioritise sleep are deemed ‘lazy’ or ‘boring’, I’ve been in the situation so many times. A lot of people claim that, because of my age, I should be out and partying and shouldn’t need sleep. You know what I do and even if it didn’t impact my health it’s my choice.

Are you a fellow sleep lover? Let me know in the comments below!

Where I’m At – World Mental Health Day 2018

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Today is World Mental Health Day. I thought about what I wanted to do for a while and then it hit me. Why not give you guys an update on how I’ve been doing recently? I’m hoping that by talking about my own life and feelings it opens the conversation and takes away that damn stigma that’s still hanging around!

So, how am I doing right now?

Things are very different this year to any other. I took a big step going freelance and the change in job has had a big impact on my mental health. I was really struggling for the past year with that I wanted to do with my life and my career. I wasn’t happy but I thought that was just life, you went to a 9-5, you had a commute you hated.

Until I didn’t. Freelancing has many challenges and its own stresses – it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but that’s another blog post. BUT, the stress of two 45 minute commutes? Gone. The stress of not having control over certain aspects of my career? Gone. If I need to take a break for my health, I can do that. In that regard, I’m doing much better and my self-confidence is growing.

I’m still working on myself – this is an ongoing health condition. Some days I feel great and can do everything. Other days I struggle to even get out of bed, to see the point in what I’m doing and think I’m terrible at everything. It’s taking it day by day.  So, I’m a lot better than I was a year ago, but it’s a constant effort.

How’s the self-care going?

Ummmmm, well….. Ok I’ll be honest with you, I’ve kinda been slacking. There’s a lot of excuses I could give about the fact I haven’t been looking after myself a much as I should.

More time for me, more baths, more early nights – I will try!

What I wish I knew a year ago

You don’t need to please everyone, things will work out no matter what.

 

On Loneliness

Recently, I heard that young people between the ages of 16-24 feel the most lonely It didn’t surprise me in the slightest because I completely agree. The last few years I’ve felt very lonely – even in the last few weeks I’ve struggled with loneliness. I have a very loving family, I quite often just go and hang out with them.

I feel like there are so many ways you can feel lonely and, often, it’s not easy to talk about. You don’t want to worry people, you don’t want to seem needy and, for me at least, there are confusing feelings. Have you ever been in a room full of people and felt alone? I’m sure you have.

But what are the biggest reasons to feel lonely?

Social Media

I love it, it’s literally my job to create, manage and monitor social media. That said, everyone posts a highlight reel which means it can look like everyone is out having fun, living their best life and you’re sat at home in your PJs. I know this and, sometimes, I still feel lonely! It’s easy to get swept up in it.

Growing up and apart

Your late teens and early twenties are also a time of huge change. You grow up and a lot of times you can grow apart from people you’re really close to. Some people I know have moved to new cities or even countries.

Not knowing what the hell you’re doing

I can *seem* like everyone else has their shit together. They don’t, I promise you. Everyone I speak to says they don’t know what they’re doing with their lives, they question everything they do. But for that conversation, one of you has to admit it and that can be the hardest part, am I right?

Relationships

So many people I know feel lonely because of relationships. I have friends who are single who feel lonely, friends in relationships to feel like they’re disconnected from friends who are single or in very different relationships. For me, I feel lonely when Ali goes on tour, as I write this he’s in Manchester. Not having him to hug can be really lonely.

That’s just some of the reasons I think people my age are lonely – but I might not have your reason listed. I guess I’m writing this because I wanted to say you might feel lonely but you’re not alone.

You Matter.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s something that I talk about on this blog every year because it is so important. Depression can happen to any one of us and suicidal feelings can be a part of that. I know for a fact that it can feel like you don’t matter, to anyone at all. Your brain lies to you because of an illness you can’t help. I’m here to remind you that you matter.

I’m not going to try and tell you everything is magical and everyone in the world is lovely. People can absolutely suck. When you’re already feeling down other people’s opinions can weigh so heavily on everything you feel. But you know what? While some people can make you feel like absolute shit – there are people in life who you matter to.

There are friends or family members, work colleagues or perhaps even teachers who care and would be upset if you weren’t here. That would feel your absence like a hole in the heart. You’re important to someone – even if you feel like they would be better off without you.

Living with depression is hard. Sometimes, even the smallest of things can feel like a mountain. There are either too many feelings, each and everyone one bubbling to the surface, or none at all and it’s hard to know which one is worse. I’ve lived through both and when I was younger, of course, there were times when I wished it would all just end. Just for everything to stop. BUT I’m glad now that it didn’t.

Slowly, bit by bit you can get better and the road to recovery is different for everyone. For me – talking to someone was key but so was being creative. I wrote a lot of poetry, I wrote songs, I wrote anything I could. For me, I needed to get those feelings out. I took medication, got some 1-1 counselling and eventually those feelings calmed down.

Your feelings and emotions are valid. Your worries, anxieties and pain are valid. But the world is better with you in it! I can’t tell you what to do – I can’t reach through this screen and give you a hug, believe me, I want to. There are people you can talk to when you’re low if there isn’t anyone close to you that you can talk to.

You matter, I promise.

 

If you’re feeling suicidal please talk to someone, book an appointment with your doctor, talk to a friend or family member. In the UK you can call these numbers:

 

Samaritans – for everyone
Call 116 123

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
Visit the webchat page

 

Papyrus – for people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm
Text 07786 209697
Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

 

Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill

 

The Silver Line – for older people
Call 0800 4 70 80 90

Book Review: Notes On A Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet - Matt Haig

In a world where we have constant access to social media, instant news and 24-hour access, the world can feel a little too fast. Now, I love social media, it’s one of my passions but even I need to step away sometimes. Matt Haig captures that in this book, that we as humans need to have that distance. We need to go on walks, to have someone step in sometimes and go hey, this is the real world. Well, I know I do!

I absolutely adored Matt’s previous book on mental health Reasons To Stay Alive. It talks about his own experiences of depression, as he stood at the age of 24 at the edge of a cliff, contemplating killing himself. But, how does someone get from that point? With great difficulty, but Matt has a beautiful way of writing about it. So, of course, I pre-ordered this the second I found out about it.

While I was reading this I was struggling with panic attacks, things weren’t going as planned, I’d lost my job and this is the book I needed. When I told people this book changed my life I meant it. This is broken down into short chapters, with lists, ideas and this format makes it so readable. I wasn’t sure at first but when the whole books is about breaking things down, slowing down and taking your time, it makes perfect sense.

The best thing is that Notes on a Nervous Planet doesn’t tell you to just stop using technology, sit in a field and meditate. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to do that an avoiding the world around us isn’t possible, nor is it healthy. I was refreshing to read because it made me realise I wasn’t alone in feeling anxious about the speed of the world around us.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re struggling, if you’ve wondered if you’re alone in this then you need to read this book. Even if you haven’t I recommend reading this for a beautiful look at the world around us. This is an inspiring, thought-provoking and beautiful read.

I need your help!

My lovely followers, I need your help! I’m up for an award for my blog in the work that I do to keep the conversation moving in regards to mental health! These awards work by endorsements and that’s where you come in if you love what I’m doing here, have felt helped by my blog or just want to be nice, I’d love for you to endorse me. It’s really simple, click here, click endorse and you’re done!

Not sure if you want to endorse me? Here are some of my posts talking about mental health!

Managing Mental Health Struggles 

10 Ways to Support Someone With a Mental Illness 

Dealing with Anxiety Attacks 

Thank you so much to everyone who reads, supports and comments on these blogs, particularly those on mental health! I will let you know how I get on! While it would be lovely to win I don’t expect it in the slightest. I just want to get people talking and stamp out stigma!

 

Compassion Costs Nothing

As most of you will have seen, earlier this week Demi Lovato was hospitalised for an overdose. Demi has spoken publicly about living with Bipolar Disorder and Addiction and released song Sober in June. She hasn’t hidden from the public that she is living with an illness and doing the best she can.

When I read that she had been rushed to hospital it weighed heavy on my heart. I hoped that mental illness hadn’t taken another young life. I also knew that the internet would be full of narrow-mindedness and, of course, there was. While the majority was positive with an outpouring of love some didn’t want to know. They threw around hurtful words in regards to something that they knew nothing about. They seemed to be completely void of compassion.

compassion (noun)

 

Some would argue it’s ‘just because she’s famous’ that people care and, yes there are some but I think it just highlights that no matter how successful, no one is immune to mental illness. At the centre of this is a young woman in her twenties with a health condition that could very easily take her life. So many people around the world are suffering and, if anything, I hope this reminds people that this is and illness.

Compassion costs nothing, caring costs nothing. There are people you know who are likely working their way through a mental illness and trying to understand and not just write people off could really save someone’s life. Is this the most eloquent post I’ve written? No, probably not. It’s just something I needed to say. I truly hope Demi recovers. This is just the tip of the iceberg and we have so much more to do in terms of talking about mental health and I for one will keep talking, keep learning and keep loving.