It took me a long time to write this series of self help tips for mental health. I had so much that I wanted to say but getting it down on paper was hard. My usual methodical mind did not want to play ball.
My aim is to try and pass on some knowledge and tips that may help others who are suffering with mental health issues. Sometimes just one sentence can make so much difference to a sufferer and I hope that “one sentence” might be here for you.
Everyone’s journey is different but there might be something here that you can identify with. Maybe just reading my story will show you that others struggle with mental illness but there is still hope for a happier life.
This is my personal account written totally from the heart. I’ve not tried to cover anything up no matter how painful it was to write or might be to read.
I realise it can be hard to focus on anything when you’re ill, so I have broken my self help tips down into sections. Carry on reading for my brief mental health background or go to part 2 below for the full story of my mental illness.
SELF HELP FOR MENTAL HEALTH TIPS
1. SELF HELP FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
2. THE FULL STORY OF MY MENTAL ILLNESS
3. MEDICAL HELP
4. LEARN AND ACCEPT
5. A MENTAL HEALTH DIET
6. SLEEP & DUVET DAYS
7. PANIC ATTACKS
8. SUICIDE AWARENESS
9. TALK SUPPORT
10. QI GONG & TAI CHI
11. MEDITATION, HYPNOSIS & RELAXATION
12. ADVICE FOR CARERS & FRIENDS
MY MENTAL HEALTH STORY
I am in my early 50s and have suffered from mental illness to varying degrees for more than half my life. I had a total nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with clinical depression in my early 20s.
I was ill for a very long time and couldn’t even take care of myself. I feared that I would never get better and had never known that such a dark scary place could exist. During that period I was on medication and saw various mental health care professionals.
I eventually got better but over the next 10-15 years, I had two or three more serious bouts that had me on anti-depressants for a long period of time, as well as many, many, more episodes without conventional medication.
I hadn’t taken antidepressants for about 15 years but did take St Johns Wort on occasions. however, due to ongoing chronic pain I was prescribed Amitriptyline some time ago. It is actually a very old fashioned anti-depressant that is more commonly used to treat pain and insomnia. I found it decreased my anxiety dramatically too.
I am also taking HRT which does go a small way towards alleviating the hormonal imbalance that can contribute towards anxiety and depression in later life.
I have been at the point that I probably should have taken medication more often, but I have worked out my own form of self help to keep mental illness at bay. Well, to a lesser extent anyway. I sometimes feel that getting to a point where you admit you’re ill enough to take medication, can help kickstart your recovery.
I have suffered with panic attacks. They have ranged from an inconvenience to an uncontrollable fear that stopped me doing things. Thankfully the crippling panic attacks rarely bother me now.
Over the years I have seen two psychiatrists, a clinical psychologist, a psychiatric nurse, a CBT counsellor and a couple of GPs.
I still suffer from depression and anxiety and I think that if I was to be diagnosed now, doctors would say that I was Bipolar. I don’t feel the need to get a name for my mental illness, it is what it is. My mood can change in a day and can last a day, a week, or months.
I usually find I’m worse in winter so SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) definitely plays a part in my mental health. Although a recent episode was during the summer after a week or so of great highs. I came crashing down instantly.
On the whole, I can manage it now. Well, I live with it.
I look after my family and home, work several part-time jobs, run my own business, maintain many web pages and have a social life. Some days it is easier than others.
I no longer feel that I will ever go back to the place that I was in when I first had my breakdown. And that sentence itself shows me how far I’ve come. With all earlier bouts, I was petrified that “it had come back”.
I hope you will read some of the self help posts in this series that are relevant to you. Most importantly I hope that they will help – please let me know if they do. (All links above.)