Well look who decided to show up. It me.
I’ve been on a writing hiatus for a while for a number of reasons including work, health, holidays, and life in general.
You may have noticed I had a clear out on this little blog. I kept my favourite pieces but we’re kind of starting fresh here on the Island of Beth Gaskell. Welcome! We’re waving flags.
What better way to re-introduce myself back into the social media realm than on Mental Health Awareness Day. If you had been here before I had the mass clear out, you’d know I talk about it a lot. But nevertheless, I’m back to my old ways of clumsy essays and over sharing on the internet.
Firstly, I love social media on awareness days. It truly shows how much people do care for each other and starts conversations that we need to have. Of course, we still have some way to go in terms of the stigma around mental health. It’s still not taken as seriously as it should.
I can’t comment on mental health and struggles, or make general statements, because everybody is different and have their own experiences with it. I can only talk about myself and hope it makes some sort of sense.
I’ve struggled and dealt with mental health issues for as long as I can remember (you can find a short piece I wrote about selective mutism for Young Minds here). And as much as I still have those days where I want the world to swallow me up, I’ve noticed how I deal with things differently as I become more educated and as I get older.
Below are just a few ways I’ve been managing my anxiety and low moods. Of course, these aren’t curing me and might not be helpful for everyone. But everything is worth a try for good mental health.
So, I got a puppy.
Of course, I will always be a cat lady but when the opportunity arises to be the mother of a miniature dachshund, you say yes. I named her Trixie and she’s the most perfect little pup. Taking care of an animal that is so dependant on me gives me a sense of purpose everyday. I have to get up in the morning because she needs feeding, and I have to leave the house because she needs walking. We do, however, have to count every completed task as a victory. This includes, getting out of bed, washing your face, picking the clothes up off the floor, eating breakfast, texting someone back who was checking up on you. When you’re struggling with depression and other mental health problems, these things can seem like Everest. So pat yourself on the back for everything you conquer in a day.
I downloaded a mental health tracking app and, every time I remember (this can be three times a day or once a day), I log my mood. You say whether it is good, bad or just okay, and you can add notes, too, if you want to expand. I’m using this app to see if there are any patterns in my mood changes. To see whether there is a certain time in the day where I feel a little lower etc. And by doing this, I have become more mindful of my moods and try my best to either remain feeling good, or change what is in my control to feel a bit better. (You can download it here).
Limited my alcohol
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good drink. I love getting dressed up to go out. But lately, I’ve been making plans that don’t always include going to a bar or pub. I get severe spending guilt, and when I wake up, the morning after the night before, with a banging headache, I can’t help but panic about how much I’ve spent on this hangover. Now, I go out a little less often but still see my friends. Especially now I have a puppy – we wrap her up in a little jumper and can take her for a walk instead. Wholesome af.
This seems like a very broad statement but stay with me. Instead of nodding and making up some random reason why I’m not being myself, I’m trying harder to tell the truth and let people know if I’m not feeling so good. I’m a very sensitive person and when I’m feeling low, if people assume I’m being rude or in a bad mood, I feel even worse and my low mood lasts longer (note: low moods and bad moods are different). This way, your friends, family, colleagues will know where your head is at and you shouldn’t have to defend your quietness.
Talking about it
This links in with being honest but sometimes your friends and family might not have noticed. I know that I feel so much better when I’ve gotten something off my chest and told someone what is on my mind. Also, if someone is hinting to you that they want to talk, ask them questions. Ask how they are, what’s on their mind, how their day is going, if they can help with anything going on.
Reach out to your loved ones even if they seem fine. It’s a very common human trait to feel uncomfortable around negative emotions. But a text asking a friend if they’re okay, or that they’re in your thoughts, can make their day.