Being Kind To Myself During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

At the start of the week I wrote my post to announce that it was Mental Health Awareness Week and my intention to publish a post every day…you might have noticed that it didn’t happen.

I spoke about the theme being kind to yourself and to others. In the end it was something that I needed to do for myself – which also meant not posting online. I was struck by a particularly nasty migraine earlier in the week and felt pretty rough physically and mentally for the rest of it.

One evening I was trying to write a post on ways to be kind to yourself and it just wasn’t working. Ali pointed out that I wasn’t being kind to myself – that quality was more important than quantity. I agreed and said I would take the time and see what happened. Today is the first time I’ve felt up to writing a new blog.

I had to remind myself that while I love writing the blog and interacting with people, if I’m not up to it nothing bad is going to happen. If I take time off, no one will hate me. It’s also part of the work I’ve been doing within therapy sessions – to be more compassionate to myself and mostly give myself a break.

Writing this is partially because I wanted to say what happened and to show that you need to practice what you preach.

Be kind to yourself.

Welcome To Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Writing about mental health isn’t anything new on this blog. While it may have changed in recent years to being about how I’m doing mentally in regards to chronic health conditions it’s still very important to me.

This years Mental Health Awareness week is very different and it’s likely that more people are aware of their mental health. We’re living through a time that none of us could imagine. As simple affection is limited or, for some, impossible I feel like now more than ever it’s important to discuss how we’re feeling.

This years theme is kindness, something we can all give but could all do with receiving too. While the world might seem like the most anxiety inducing place right now, and it is, there are also signs of hope and generosity.

During the last few weeks I’ve received messages, family members and neighbours have helped when we couldn’t go to the shops, strangers on the internet have sent me things from my amazon wish list and so have friends. I’ve tried to do things for others too in the ways I can.

I know that, for me, it’s felt at times like we’re stuck in a reoccurring nightmare. That it takes more effort than I have when things are hard. It’s normal to have days where it’s all too much, especially now. Taking it day by day, even hour by hour we can get through it together.

I’m going to be posting hopefully every day this week about mental health. Even though it’s a different kind of awareness week. I hope you find the posts helpful.

My Mental Health – MHW2019

Seeing as it’s Mental Health Week, it only seems right that I talk about myself. For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you’ll know it’s something I’m pretty open about but that took a while, for the first few months after my depression diagnosis I couldn’t even say the word.

So, what’s my diagnosis?

I have been officially diagnosed with Anxiety with Depression, why is it put that way I have no idea.

How long have I been diagnosed?

I was diagnosed at 19, shortly before I went to study at university.

How does it impact me day to day?

Sometimes it doesn’t impact me at all, those are good days. Other days I’ll feel exhausted, irritable, moody. I can struggle to have any motivation or really doubt myself and my abilities.

What’s my treatment plan?

Currently, I take Citalopram, an antidepressant and have done for the past few years. Also, because I realised I was struggling more than normal I am on a waiting list to have 1-1 therapy to talk things out and try and get myself back in a good place mentally.

How am I doing right now?

I’m doing okay. There are days I feel like I’ve got my shit together and I’m doing so well and other days I struggle to get up from my sofa or to reply to any messages. Every day is different. I know I haven’t had the easiest time with my mental health recently, despite life going well, because of that I’m eager to get some talking therapy and feel much better.

Thank you so much for reading! There are more posts for Mental Health Awareness Week coming up so make sure to check back in!

Mental Heath Week 2018 Round-Up

MHAW18 – The Round Up

Well, what a week it has been! After writing all week about different aspects of mental health I’m so pleased with the response. I’ve been amazed by the responses, the number of people reading, it’s been amazing! That said, I know that not everyone checks in every day with my blog (it’s ok, I’ll forgive you) so here’s a round-up of this weeks posts!

Welcome to MHAW18 

A big welcome to the week and a heads up about what I’m planning to do with it.

Does Therapy Work?

One of the big questions in the community is about therapy and whether it works, so I decided to talk about it and why it’s good to talk!

10 Ways To Support Someone With A Mental Illness

It can be really hard to support someone who is mentally ill. So I’ve put together some tips on how to support someone with a mental illness and what might work for you and them.

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads 

Of course, I was going to talk about books! I’ve picked 10 reads I thought did it right when it comes to mental illness.

I Have, I Am – Talking About Mental Illness 

I’m really interested in the terminology we use to discuss our mental health. This post was to discuss that and how we relate ourselves and our illnesses.

How Am I Doing Right Now? 

My own personal post about my mental health right now and how I’m doing. I try and write one of these every year just being honest about how I’ve been doing, what place I’m in right now.

I’ve enjoyed writing and getting to know more of you this week. We have to remember that this week is excellent but mental health awareness needs to carry on. It needs to be spoken about without shame or stigma.

Thanks so much for reading!

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

MHAW18 – My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

 

Seeing as it’s Thursday I decided that instead of my usual review, I would share with you my current top 10 books about or featuring mental health. I was really hard to decide on the final 10 but I think I have a pretty good selection.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This is one of my favourites books of all time. I read this when I was a student and it just connected on a level I haven’t before with any other book. The plot focuses on Esther a young woman in her early 20s and her descent into mental ill health.

Am I Normal Yet – Holly Bourne
I love Holly Bourne’s YA work and Am I Normal Yet was a great start to her spinster trilogy. Looking at OCD, how to open up to the people around you and the process of recovery. Full review right here.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Matt Haig was on the verge of committing suicide, now he’s a best selling author. To get from one to the other he needed reasons to stay alive. This is a beautiful and brilliant book which changes lives. I wrote all about it here.

My Lovely Wife – Mark Luckach
There are very few books I’ve read from the perspective of a partner who has to watch their loved ones go through mental illness. A truly lovely and honest book. You can read my review here.

How Not To Be A Boy – Robert Webb
I’m so in love with this autobiography. This isn’t just about Webb’s life, it looks at death, gender stereotypes, sexuality and toxic masculinity. I raved about it here.

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
I listened to this as an audiobook and fell in love. Not only does Bryony talk about serious topics such as depression, alopecia and OCD but she also makes you laugh. I’m a huge believer in laughter being a great healer. You can read my full thoughts here.
Nina is Not Ok – Shappi Khorsandi
This is the first YA novel I’ve read looking at alcoholism in a young person. I went through so many emotions reading it. A tough but important read.

Ariel – Sylvia Plath
I know, I know Plath again BUT her poetry is incredible. This is a beautiful collection and Plath’s last before her suicide. The imagery, the emotion. I can’t get enough.
It’s All in Your Head – Rae Earl
Confession, I’d never read anything by Rae Earl before and this was a great place to start. This is part manual, part memoir and wholly excellent. I loved this and it would benefit anyone and I highly recommend it.

When We Collided – Emery Lord
This is a wonderful YA novel which isn’t obvious it is about mental illness at the beginning. This is mostly about friendship, love and healing. Two teenagers, a summer and a beautiful novel. Full review here.

 

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

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!