Coping With Mental Illness | Mental Health Awareness 2018

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.

Moods’ App

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.

Being honest

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.

Useful links and phone numbers:
Samaritans – for everyone. Call 116 123. Email jo@samaritans.org
– Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day Visit the webchat page
– Papyrus – for people under 35. Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm. Text 07786 209697. Email pat@papyrus-uk.org
– Childline – for children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill
The Silver Line – for older people, Call 0800 4 70 80 90
– Anxiety UK – Charity providing support if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition. Phone: 03444 775 774 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5.30pm) Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk
– Bipolar UK – A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder. Website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk
– Depression Alliance – Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups. Website: www.depressionalliance.org
– Mental Health Foundation – Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk
– Mind – Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems. Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm). Website: www.mind.org.uk
– No Panic – Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline. Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am to 10pm) Website: www.nopanic.org.uk
– OCD Action – Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources. Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5pm) Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk
– OCD UK – A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments. Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm) Website: www.ocduk.org
– PAPYRUS – Young suicide prevention society. Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon to Fri,10am to 5pm & 7 to 10pm. Weekends 2 to 5pm). Website: www.papyrus-uk.org
– Rethink Mental Illness – Support and advice for people living with mental illness. Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm. Website: www.rethink.org
– SANE – Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers. SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30 to 10.30pm). Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: http://www.sane.org.uk/textcare Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum Website: www.sane.org.uk/support
– Albert Kennedy Trust – Supports young LGBTQ+ people between ages 16-25. Website: https://www.akt.org.uk/contact
– Gendered Intelligence – works with the trans community. Website: http://genderedintelligence.co.uk
– Imaan – support group for LGBTQ+ Muslims. Website: https://imaanlondon.wordpress.com
– YoungMinds – Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals. Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm). Website: www.youngminds.org.uk 
  Refuge – Advice on dealing with domestic violence. Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline) Website: www.refuge.org.uk
– Alcoholics Anonymous – Phone: 0845 769 7555 (24-hour helpline) Website: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
– Gamblers Anonymous – Website: www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk
– Narcotics Anonymous – Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily 10am to midnight)Website: www.ukna.org
– Cruse Bereavement Care – Phone: 0844 477 9400 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm) Website: www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk
– Rape Crisis – To find your local services phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12 to 2.30pm, 7 to 9.30pm) Website: www.rapecrisis.org.uk
– Victim Support – Phone: 0808 168 9111 (24-hour helpline) Website: www.victimsupport.org
– Beat – help and support for those suffering eating disorders. Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s) Website: www.b-eat.co.uk
– Mencap – Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers. Phone: 0808 808 1111 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm) Website: www.mencap.org.uk
– Family Lives – Advice on all aspects of parenting including dealing with bullying. Phone: 0808 800 2222 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 9pm. Sat to Sun, 10am to 3pm) Website: www.familylives.org.uk
– Relate – The UK’s largest provider of relationship support. Website: www.relate.org.uk
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