10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

MHAW18: 10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

When a loved one is struggling with a mental illness it can be hard to know what to do and how to help. For me, when I’m on a low I don’t even know what I want sometimes! There are some things, however, that you can do to help. I wanted to share them with you.

Listen

Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen. They don’t need actions or solutions just someone to listen to how they feel and why they might be feeling it. It’s really that simple. Having someone listen to you can make such a change to a person’s day.

Don’t assume you know or understand 

Mental illness may have a set of symptoms but it is a truly personal experience. From experience, someone else thinking they know what you’re going through and trying to guess, rather than listen, is frustrating. It is so, so important to see this as a personal struggle not just a set of symptoms. Depression isn’t just sadness, Anxiety isn’t feeling nervous these are real issues.

Support them with small steps

Sometimes something that might seem small can be a big deal. In my worst times, I struggled to leave the house to go to the shop down the road. I physically couldn’t leave and when I did I had anxiety attacks. So my amazing boyfriend helped with the smaller steps. First, take a shower, then put on some clothes, then put on my shoes etc. It was long and frustrating but we did it and later that afternoon popped to the shop. I do the same thing with close friends with things such as blood tests. Small steps matter!

Let them know you’re there without forcing them to open up 

People will open up when they’re ready. Trying to force it from them will probably have the opposite effect. Just letting someone know that if they want to talk or hang out, you’re there is a big help.

Don’t try to ‘fix’ them 

Don’t listen to Coldplay, people with a mental illness aren’t broken and recovery has to be something the person wants for themselves.

Treat them as the person you know they are 

The person you know is in there, they might just be hiding. You can still make jokes, ask them to go places. They could say no 99 times but that 100th time they might feel well enough to go. It let’s them know that you still love and care for them.

Ask what they need 

It could be someone to just sit with in the quiet, someone to eat with or just being that voice at the end of the phone. Asking them what they actually need rather than guessing makes things a lot easier in the long run.

Swot Up! 

There’s so much information out there to help you understand what your loved one is going through. Read personal accounts, watch documentaries, listen to music. You might not be living it but you can try to understand as much as possible.

Be there 

It really is as simple as that. Just being there for someone.

Be a champion 

Mental illness is something that we need to talk about and even if you’ve never lived it you can be a champion and continue the conversation.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

MHAW18: Does Therapy Work?

Let’s talk about Therapy. Does it really work?

Now, I’m not talking about laying down, a leather sofa to a stony-faced psychiatrist, sorry to burst your bubble but I starting talking therapies on and off almost 10 years ago and it’s never happened. Not once. That is a Hollywood myth, or something you don’t get on the NHS, either way not something I can tell you about.

I know that it’s not for everyone but for me, I’m pretty sure it’s got me to where I am today as a person. Working through my thoughts, problem and general mental health with someone who’s qualified and has to tools I didn’t was crucial. It was just a chat every week. I’d speak about what I felt I needed to and when appropriate try to break things down. It cleared up so much in my own head.

I don’t understand the stigma around talking to someone to try and sort your shit out. Surely that would make us better as people? To talk about things that are going on in our brains.  That said, I completely understand that it’s not for everyone. For some people, they need to work through things in another way and talking isn’t for them, which is fine.

That said, we need to acknowledge that for people who it does help it is vital and that’s where things have fallen down. A year and a half ago I was put on a waitlist because things were going pretty badly in my personal life, I’d had a lot of change and wasn’t doing so well. I’m still on that waiting list even though I feel like I don’t need it anymore. That is not only mind-boggling but also disgusting. I had a support system and wasn’t in crisis but sometimes I get frustrated, what if that wasn’t the case? But, that’s another blog post.

What do you think about therapy? Is it something that’s helped you or not your cup of tea? Let me know in the comments below!

Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 2018!

So, a few days ago I realised that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and had to get a plan together, quick. You see, mental well being is so important to me because I haven’t always been in the place that I am now (here’s a whole post about my story from last year).

Ok, but why?

I think we need to talk because being mentally ill can be really lonely and make you feel like you’re the only person in the world who has these feelings. I promise you that you’re not. This is your brain goblin, stay with me here, that likes to take over your brain and make everything look and feel terrible. It is lying to you, it loves to lie to you.

So, what’s going to be happening over here 

I’m going to write a post about mental health every single day of the week. Yep, that’s a thing now. I want to talk about things to make others more comfortable and open. I’m going to be talking about whether I think therapy works, how to support someone with a mental illness and how we talk about it and ourselves. It’s going to be a full ride of information, emotions and more. Honestly, I could write about it forever but this is just a tiny portion of the internet.

I just want to get people talking and if they’re comfortable, sharing. It’s such a personal thing that gets turned into a political agenda. I’ve been at the point where I thought there was no coming back, I’ve been on a huge high where I thought I was cured forever and it was never coming back (lol, no). This is just what I think, what I’ve felt and hopefully, this week can help someone else as well.

So get into the comments, start talking and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

Dealing With Anxiety Attacks

Dealing with Anxiety Attacks

You know the drill, your heart is pounding, thoughts racing and breathing suddenly becomes a little harder. It could have been the tiniest thing, something that most people wouldn’t even register but you have and your brain is in overdrive. A good old Anxiety Attack.

I’ve been living with these beauties since I was around 15 years old, I think. I’ve always been a worrier but Anxiety is a whole different thing. I’ve had an anxiety attack in the supermarket. Why? No idea. Just found myself feeling like I was going to pass out while in the pastry bit. And I love pastry.

So, how do you actually deal with them? Because that’s what has to be done. I can’t go and crawl into bed and let it pass, that would be great but it’s not what real life is. I’m a big fan of using your senses, you might have heard of this method before. When I feel like I’m falling into an attack I try to do the following

What can I see?  Focus on that and only that for a few seconds.

What can I touch? Think about it, what’s the texture, what is it?

What can I hear? Zone in on a particular sound or the silence if there is some and hold on to it.

What can I smell? Take a deep breath, can I smell anything? What is it? Where does it come from?

The only one that isn’t on here is taste…because it doesn’t really work.

 

That’s one method I use if I’m in a better place I’ll also talk to myself in my head, it’s like I have two sides to my brain. There’s a calm and collected side and the anxious side, sometimes the calm side wins, sometimes the anxious one does, they both put up a fight. Basically, I try to talk myself into being logical because anxiety makes your heart feel like there’s a lion in front of you when there’s not. I ask myself questions and try to think through things carefully.

So, these are some of my ways of dealing with Anxiety. They might not be perfect and I know that I’m not a professional but this is just how I’ve been dealing with them. Is there anything you would add? I’m always up for learning more! Let me know in the comments below!

Dealing With Anxiety Attacks

Dealing with Anxiety Attacks

You know the drill, your heart is pounding, thoughts racing and breathing suddenly becomes a little harder. It could have been the tiniest thing, something that most people wouldn’t even register but you have and your brain is in overdrive. A good old Anxiety Attack.

I’ve been living with these beauties since I was around 15 years old, I think. I’ve always been a worrier but Anxiety is a whole different thing. I’ve had an anxiety attack in the supermarket. Why? No idea. Just found myself feeling like I was going to pass out while in the pastry bit. And I love pastry.

So, how do you actually deal with them? Because that’s what has to be done. I can’t go and crawl into bed and let it pass, that would be great but it’s not what real life is. I’m a big fan of using your senses, you might have heard of this method before. When I feel like I’m falling into an attack I try to do the following

What can I see?  Focus on that and only that for a few seconds.

What can I touch? Think about it, what’s the texture, what is it?

What can I hear? Zone in on a particular sound or the silence if there is some and hold on to it.

What can I smell? Take a deep breath, can I smell anything? What is it? Where does it come from?

The only one that isn’t on here is taste…because it doesn’t really work.

 

That’s one method I use if I’m in a better place I’ll also talk to myself in my head, it’s like I have two sides to my brain. There’s a calm and collected side and the anxious side, sometimes the calm side wins, sometimes the anxious one does, they both put up a fight. Basically, I try to talk myself into being logical because anxiety makes your heart feel like there’s a lion in front of you when there’s not. I ask myself questions and try to think through things carefully.

So, these are some of my ways of dealing with Anxiety. They might not be perfect and I know that I’m not a professional but this is just how I’ve been dealing with them. Is there anything you would add? I’m always up for learning more! Let me know in the comments below!

What’s Up With Me?

I’ve been a little bit quieter recently on the blog, on my Twitter and in my general life. Now, I don’t feel that I have to explain everything to everyone but it’s been bothering me slightly. I haven’t written about mental health in a while now, partly because I didn’t know what to say, partly because I’ve been mixing with new people and I didn’t want the first thing for them to know about me was my history rather than the person I am now.

So what is up with me? It’s been a really weird month. My Great Nan died at the beginning of the month, so there was also a funeral. I’ve had some hospital appointments and a week off. So it’s been a mixed bag but even with that, something felt off. Something within me felt strange and I just blamed it on things in my life and feeling tired. Standard stuff.

That was until last night, I’d just had enough of feeling crappy and exhausted when there wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint anymore that was making me feel this way. I’ve been going through areas of my life and couldn’t understand what was going on and I was worried. Then something clicked. Something had changed.

About 2 months ago I changed some of my medication and I was told it would be a straight swap, one for the other but it would help with my back pain as well as serving as an antidepressant that I was already on. There was a catch though…nobody told me the dosage would change to be a lot lower and therefore offset the chemical imbalance again. Not fun.

And that’s the thing, I have a chemical imbalance, that’s all this is. It’s just like a Diabetic I can’t help my illness any more than they can. So I spoke to my doctor, we’re trying out some other options and it was a huge weight off of my shoulders to understand. Living with Depression is all about ups and downs.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know when something is up and trying to work around it. I haven’t been crying every day or the typical Hollywood version of depressed but everything just felt a lot heavier and like it was more effort, that’s when I knew something wasn’t right.

So, that’s what’s been up! I’m pretty proud of myself for clocking it and then doing something about it.

 

Have any of you ever experienced this? Let me know in the comments below!

My Mental Health Goals For This Year

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about mental health, and that’s mainly because I haven’t known what to write. I’ve had so many ideas for other type of content that I’ve kind of tried ot focus on all the positives. That’s not to say that mental health posts can’t be positive, which leads me on to this one…

Last year was incredibly tough for me mentally, my confidence took a few beatings and my self esteem got smashed. I had to build myself back up quite a few times in the space of 12 months (my 2017 in review is here), so I’m proud of myself but want to take better care of my mental health in 2018.

So, here are my goals…

To be able to celebrate everyday achievements 

I’m way too hard on myself. That’s a fact. I want to try and celebrate everyday achievements and be pleased about the small things to try and get a more positive way of thinking.

To work on managing my anxiety in a healthy way 

I get anxious, I’ve had anxiety for years and I want to focus on healthy ways of tackling it. Whether that be through writing, listening to music or simply talking about it rather than letting myself get so stressed and worried that everything seems 100 times worse.

To look after my body better 

Ok, ok, I’ll admit last year I wasn’t great at looking after my body. I know that when I get a bit of exercise I feel better. I’ve also been making steps to drink more water and having a skin care routine too! Fingers crossed!

To accept rough patches as part of life, rather than defining life

I need to stop panicking when I hit a rough patch and thinking this is where it’s all going to go wrong. It’s a known fact anxiety can do this, but I’m stronger than my anxiety.

To make time for self care every week 

A bath, a good book, getting away from a screen, whatever I need to do! It’s really easy to burn yourself out so I’m trying to give myself a little bit of time each week to keep myself in good shape!

What are your mental health goals for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

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‘Your now is not your forever.’

16-year-old Aza is going through the motions to get through high school with her vibrant best friend Daisy at her side and trying not to spiral. Because Aza has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), making life that little bit more difficult. Getting through her day to day didn’t include trying to find a missing billionaire or his handsome son.

I started reading John Green just after The Fault in Our Stars came out so I could spend the years between books reading the rest of the novels he had written and I was still desperate to get my hands on the latest novel. Well, it was worth the wait because he’s managed to get it right again.

The reason the Aza and Daisy even begin their quest to find the missing billionaire is the hundred thousand dollar reward for information.  For Daisy, a reward would mean financial freedom, for Aza, however, her curiosity is based on Davis Pickett. Of course, as with all of Greens novels, there is an element of love and desire, after all, he is writing about teenagers.

It must be said I think this sets a different tone for John’s work. While we’re used to difficult themes within Green’s novels, ones that I frequently cry in, Turtles felt different. This is an own voices novel, Green has openly spoken about his life with OCD (you can watch a video about it here) and you can tell. I am familiar with the process of mental spirals and having it put into words was incredible.

Something that is not often seen in literature is the honest feelings of those around someone with a mental illness. I’m not going to spoil anything but Green has shown the honest reality of what it’s like for the person with the illness and those around them, because it’s not easy.

I gave this novel 5 stars because I loved it. As I thought I finished it within 24 hours in love with the characters and the way Green writes them. I know that some people haven’t liked this as much but I’m not one of them because it was wonderful. I also loved the ending, of course, I won’t spoil it for you, but it wasn’t typical, nor what I’d expect.

John Green is still, and probably always will be, one of my favourite authors of all time.

Feminist Friday with … Charlotte Selby

Why I Need Feminism

This is a guest post by Charlotte Selby, a YA Writer, Book Blogger and Booktuber. Charlotte has requested the following trigger warnings to be in place; Sexual Abuse, Anxiety, and Depression.

Living alone in my second year of University was a bad idea. I was in my own company a lot and my anxiety was at the highest it had been; I was yet to get a diagnosis. I was struggling to leave my flat to see my therapist, never mind going to classes. I hadn’t established a strong enough relationship with the friends I’d made where I felt I could confide in them about my problems. Then someone came along. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call them Ash.

They got me. They knew when to listen to my problems and when to give advice. I became dependent; messaging them when I thought I might relapse, begging them to come over. When they kissed me, I felt it was a turning point: someone wanted me even though they’d seen how broken I was. My previous partner broke up with me because I wouldn’t sleep with them so I wanted to take my time before losing my virginity. Ash respected that. My friend warned me and our friendship became strained. She didn’t understand. Ash was good for me.

After a bad relapse, Ash came to the rescue and took me to their flat. I didn’t want to be alone for fear of how much further I would go. After I calmed down, Ash kissed me. I said no but they became icy after. Later they tried again and I said no. We had already slept together at this point, but this time was different. This time I didn’t want it. But they were so persistent that, in the end, I let them.

“Come on, it’ll take your mind off things.”

I told them I didn’t want to see them anymore after that (outside of class obligations). When I confided in a friend about what had happened, she had her I did warn you moment and explained the concept of consent to me. I felt foolish.

Flash to final year and it all came out. There were six other girls at the same time as me all with similar stories. We didn’t go to the police. We didn’t tell the university. We all knew we’d be blamed until we dropped it. One day when a society I was part of hosted a bake sale on campus. Ash showed up. The boyfriend of one of the other girls came and attacked Ash. He’d learned his girlfriend was one of the many victims. He screamed “manipulator”, “sexual abuser” and “rapist.” I was called out too. “How dare you stand when they did that to you. You’re just as bad as them. You could have helped people.” In the drama of it all, I don’t think anyone noticed I’d been outed; there were a select few who knew the names of the people involved, he just happened to know mine.

What happened with Ash had a big impact on my next relationship – which started during second year and we’re still together now. One night when we were messing around one night, he jokingly said: “come on you know you want to.” When I worked up the courage to tell him about Ash, I expected a breakup. We didn’t and we’re still together now, but it took a long time to fully trust him. Even now if I’m not in the mood for being intimate I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, like I’m letting him down in some way.

Ash didn’t go to graduation. They weren’t missed.
I wish I could say I felt free when I cut them out. But I don’t. While I’m in a much better place mentally now but I’m easily shaken. I often think of “what ifs.” What if I’d stood up for myself? What if I’d spoken out sooner?

I need feminism because had there been more support for women, if there had been a safe place we could have gone to report it, if there was less stigma around sexual abuse, maybe Ash wouldn’t be out there right now. Living their life, probably never thinking about what they did to all those girls.

I speak out now. I shut down negative discussions about sexual assault/ abuse and rape. I challenge harmful views. I don’t want people to have to go through what I did and then blame themselves after. I am a feminist.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And by god, I am stronger now.

Thank you so much to Charlotte for this post, it’s such an important yet hard topic to discuss. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

 

Sunday Seven: Ways to kick anixiety’s butt!

I know that sometimes, it can feel like you don’t have anxiety, you are absorbed by the sneaky bugger. Right now, I’m pleased that I’m managing my anxiety, but now and again, of course, I have my moments where I wonder if I’ll feel ok again. It’s on these days it is that little bit harder here are 7 things you can do.

Write a list of things you need to do 

Only what you need to get done, don’e be consumed by something you need to get done tomorrow or next week. Break big tasks down and take it day by day.

Be kind to yourself

When I’m in an anxious state, I know most of the time that it’s not logical. That there are things I’m anxious about that I don’t need to be or I’ll beat myself up over small things. Know that you’re just having a bad day, it will pass.

Get some light in!

Natural sunlight is a great mood booster even five minutes can help you out so open those windows.

Make sure you have contact with positive people 

It can be really hard, particularly if your anxiety means you want or need to be alone but make sure that you can contact people who make you feel comfortable.

Do something you enjoy 

Read, watch a TV show you love, colour do something you enjoy that you’ll find relaxing.

Express how you feel!

Only you will know the best way to calm your anxious mind but don’t bottle it up. For some doing something creative will help unleash how you feel, for others making something or solving a problem. Whatever works, you do you!

What are your tips? Let me know in the comments below!