Tuesday, 19 September 2017

How I Get Myself Through A Bad Mental Health Day


Over the past couple of weeks I've been really suffering with my mental health, and getting through the days has been a real battle for me.  It was all triggered a couple of weeks ago by a personal matter.  A decision was made that was beyond my control, and I've been utterly heart broken about it since.  I've been struggling through the days from then on.  This bout of sadness has really triggered my Anxiety and Depression.  My job, which I have loved since the beginning has felt like a chore to get up for every morning, getting out of bed has been a real struggle on some days, and my mind has been in over drive with worry.  My grief for my Mum, which I was starting to move forward with feels like it's been uprooted again.  It feels as raw as the day she died and I'm having days of uncontrollable crying, sometimes, embarrassingly whilst sitting at my desk at work, and the more I try to stop it, the more the tears come.

If this was happening to me this time last year, I would have probably had a full on break down.  In fact, it was around this time last year that I did have a full on break down, leading me to leave the job that was making me beyond miserable and was the source of my Depression and Anxiety at the time.  I had no idea how to cope with all these feelings, so I just internalised them, pretending I was fine on the outside, when inside I was being tortured by my own mind, until it couldn't take it anymore.  However, this time, I feel much more equipped to deal with things.  I'm more switched on to my triggers and my feelings.  I know the signs to look out for when my mental health is going on a downward spiral, and I know what I can do to calm my mind.  These tips won't help everybody, as we're all different.  We all have different triggers, and we all have different methods to help us feel better.  Mine are certainly by no means groundbreaking, but for those of you who may be suffering as well, there may just be something here today to help you get through a bad mental health day.

Switch Off

When I say switch off, I mean switch off from all things online.  If I go quiet on social media for a few days, it's generally because I am having a hard time with my mental health and am taking some time away to look after myself.  I can tell when I'm in a bad place mentally, because I turn to my phone more than usual.  I sit mindlessly scrolling for hours and hours, not actually taking in anything I'm reading or looking at.  These days I'm much better at figuring out when I'm doing this, so can stop myself from falling too far down that hole before I'm in too deep and then spend the rest of my day regretting that I've wasted so much of my time on something that's I've not actually paid any attention too.

All scrolling through social media does when I'm having a bad mental health day is cloud my head even more, so I leave my phone out of reach in another room, and take up a more calming activity to ease my mind a little more, such as reading a book or binge watching something easy going on Netflix (Gilmore Girls is the best TV show for this - I've just started again from the beginning!).

Be Inspired

I'm a busy body.  It's not very often that I just have a day to myself to relax.  Even when I have a day in the house I often find tasks I could be doing to keep myself busy.  Whether that be a spot of cleaning, or listing those clothes on eBay that I've been meaning to do for a while.  However, days when the dreaded Depression and Anxiety decide they want to come out to play in my mind leave me feeling exhausted.  I want to do something productive with my day, but I have to allow myself the time to rest to be able to continue living as normal a life as possible the days following.

During these times, I like to surround myself with inspiring people, whether that be reading my favourite blogs, watching my favourite YouTubers, reading my latest copy of Blogosphere Magazine, or interacting with the blogging community on Twitter or Instagram.  Getting involved with such inspiring people, even if just leaving a nice encouraging comment for them in their YouTube or blog comments section often leaves me feeling a little more driven.  I come away feeling like I can take on the world again, despite that big black cloud hanging around in my mind.

Rest

I'm a terrible sleeper, and since buying my Fitbit recently I've learnt just how bad of a sleeper I actually am.  I rarely get more than six hours sleep, and even on the occasional better nights of sleep it's only around seven hours.  It's not without lack of trying either!  I often go to bed early, read my books, settle in for the night, but my mind has other plans.  Why would I need sleep when I can lie awake worrying about things all night?!  Got nothing to worry about?  Well we better worry about the fact we have nothing to worry about because there's obviously something you should be worrying about; you've just forgotten what it is!  This is literally what goes through my head all. the. time.

Obviously, the lack of sleep catches up with me from time to time, so I need to rest on those days.  If I don't my mind will just continue to plummet into despair.  The days where my mind will actually allow me to have a nap are some of my favourites.  Napping is wonderful.  Totally underrated in my opinion.  There is nothing I love more than snuggling up on the sofa in my cosy blanket, shutting out the world and the noise in my head for a while and actually getting a good few hours of rest.  I wake up feeling refreshed, energised, and usually the problems that were plaguing my mind before my nap don't seem quite so bad anymore.

Flowers

This is such a simple one, and I don't know why they make me feel better, but a little bunch of flowers really lifts my spirits.  Spencer is a bit rubbish at buying me flowers (Sorry Spencer, but you are!), so I have no qualms about buying myself a bunch when I need cheering up.

There's just something about a bunch of flowers that really brightens up a room.  I like having them in the living room because it's where I spend most of my time.  They just make me smile looking at them, and I love that I can regularly update them and I can have something different each time if I want.  Also, they're great for props in blog photos too so you know, win win!

Spend Time With Those You Love...

Sometimes you'll really not want to, but spending time with loved ones will really lift your mood.  This weekend just passed I arranged a day with friends, and although I could have quite happily stayed inside with my own thoughts, I forced myself to go out and enjoy myself.  As a result I met with friends I hadn't seen for months, got a cuddle from one of my friends absolutely adorable baby girl, and went to see the Addam's Family Musical with my oldest and best friend.  It was such a fun evening full of laughs, and was just great for the soul.

But Take Some Time Out When Necessary

As much as I encourage being around people, I know all too well that sometimes time alone is necessary.  I'm very much an introvert.  When I've been around a lot of people I need time to myself after to recharge my batteries.  This is totally ok too, just make sure you don't become a total recluse.  Mental illness can make us feel incredibly isolated as it is without us self-sabotaging even more then necessary.

Talking It Out

Anybody who knows me well knows I'm not a talker when it comes to the inner workings of my mind.  I lived with my Mum who, unknowingly to a lot of people suffered massively with her mental health for a long time.  She was such a pro at putting her warrior face on and appearing fine to the outside world, including many of her friends and family.  However, it gets hard to hide that from your children who live with you day in, day out, so although it was unspoken, I knew how poorly she really was.

Because I knew she was battling her own demons, I never wanted to burden her with mine, and quickly I developed the mindset of 'It's my problem, not anybody else's.  Nobody needs to be burdened with my problems.  I need to fix this myself.', and I carried this mindset for a very long time.  In fact, I still keep a lot to myself.

When something bothers me I need to think.  I research and I brainstorm to myself and try and figure it all out on my own.  I internalise and bottle things up until the bottle is too full and the lid pops open, or at least, I did for a very long time.  I'd say I've had three major breakdowns that I can think of in my time.  The first leading to my official diagnosis of Anxiety and Depression, the second leading me to being signed off of work for two months, and the third leading to me handing in my notice after the manager in that particular job did nothing to help support me through a very difficult time with my mental health.

I have to take some responsibility for these breakdowns, because I did nothing to help myself.  I let the negative thoughts build up inside of me until there was no room for anything else and it was literally like I exploded internally.  Everything that had been building up for months and months and months came spilling out all at the same time.  I was angry, hysterical, spouting absolute gibberish as hundreds of thoughts came flooding out of my mouth at a hundred miles per hour.

Those were some of my lowest moments, and no matter how low I feel at times, I never want to feel that low again, so I've had to learn to talk to people.  To get things off of my chest.  This is extremely difficult for me.  I've built some very high barriers over the years, so they're taking a while to break down.  Sometimes I physically cannot get the words out. I desperately want to open up, but it's as if my mouth has been sewn shut.  The dark little monster living inside my head sometimes makes me believe that if I open up to people they will laugh at me.  Ridicule me for feeling the way I do.  Judge me, and make me feel pathetic.  This has never actually happened of course, because I have the most loving and supportive network of people around me, but unless you've felt the wrath of Anxiety and Depression, you'll never truly understand just how powerful they are.

I'm slowly, but surely getting there, however I'm still pretty selective of who I open up to about certain things.  Some things I open up to Spencer about, but then there are some things I only feel like I can open up to friends about.  I've only in recent years started to open up to my own Dad.  I was so sure he would think I had made up my mental illness, that he would judge me.  How wrong I was, and I feel like the worst daughter for ever thinking that of him, because he's been one of the most supportive people in my life.  He's come to doctors appointments with me, come to work meetings with me when I was signed off, he left work and came to the hospital as soon as I told him about my Mum being in hospital to be there for me, despite them being divorced for 26 years by that point.  He even came to my house this weekend just so I could have a cry on him, and as I was writing up this post he called to check in on me.  Basically, he's the best Dad I could possibly ever ask for.  If I had to pick who my Dad was, I would pick him, always.

These are just a few tips on how I get myself through a bad mental health day.  These are generally the ones that help me through the most often.  There are so many more ways you can help yourself, you just have to figure out what works for you.  Trust me, it takes time, so I hope in the mean time, if you feel like you're struggling, that these tips help you get through some of the darkness.
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4 comments

  1. nooo sorry to hear that you've been struggling recently and really hoping that things improve for you soon, girl. fantastic that you're getting good at noticing when youre heading down and making changes to help when you do - that's amazing!

    gotta admit, i know it's tiny but i always find fresh flowers cheer me up and help me when i'm having a wobble. something about them being alive and beautiful always calms me down. it's the little things sometimes, eh?!

    katie. xx lacoconoire.com

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    1. Thank you! Recognising it is a massive step for me. Something I don't think I could have done a year ago. Getting in tune with your own thoughts and feelings can be so hard, but once you nail it, it can help your mental health so much!

      I do love a fresh bunch of flowers. In fact, I think I'm due another bunch soon! x

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  2. So sorry to hear you have been struggling lately. Its good that you notice when its happening though and that you are able to do what you need to do to help yourself.

    Be kind to yourself and take pleasure in what lifts your spirit and mind. xx

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    1. Thank you Jane. I try my best to stay as positive as possible each day. Some days I do an ok job, but some days it can be a little tougher xx

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