It’s Mental Health Awareness week- Something I think is amazing, but realistically we need to be creating mental health awareness all year round.
I’m no expert on mental health illness, however, I hit what I call ‘my rock bottom’ at the age of 19. My main diagnosis was Anorexia, but I was also diagnosed with orthorexia and depression at the same time.
Prior to this, I thought a mental illness was for a ‘crazy person’ and I believed you had to be born with it. Some people are born with a chemical imbalance in their brain, however, most sufferers gain a mental illness because of their experiences.
I didn’t necessarily go through a significant traumatic experience, I went through a number of smaller things, but wore a brave face to the world, which slowly took its toll on me.
When I was in the depths of my illness, I saw no way out. I felt trapped. I didn’t know who to turn to because I’d gradually cut all of my loved ones out of my life. It’s like having these loud demons in your mind telling you how unworthy you are and how you don’t have a purpose in the world.
As you know, I managed to overcome my battle against the demons and I’m now a stronger and purposeful person for it. There are many things I tried to help myself, but I wanted to list the 3 main things which really helped me during my fight, in the hope that they help you too.
- SPEAK UP. I know it’s easier said than done, especially when you think the whole world is against you. But in reality, the world is rooting for you. If you feel like you cant speak up straight away, then try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a notebook until you feel confident enough to articulate how you feel inside. Speaking out is a way to gain advice from somebody else, who might be able to make sense of your thoughts. Freinds and family could be a starting point, and then maybe seek help from an expert.
- Set mini wins for the week. When you’re recovering from a mental illness, it’s hard to recognize progress. It’s not something we can visually see or feel, but setting little challenges and goals, can help you recognize your progress. I had a mini notebook where I wrote my mini goals. I would write things like ‘Go out for a meal with family’, ‘ask a friend to come for dinner’; things which might seem so insignificant to a lot of people, but were a huge step for me.
- At the end of each day fill out a gratitude log. This is something I discovered towards the end of my recovery, however, it’s something I have continued to do until this very day. Now it might sound ‘airy fairy’, but there is scientific evidence behind gratitude and feeling better. Some days it will be hard to think if thinks you’re grateful for, so don’t think too big. Mine often include ‘A lady smiled at me in the street’, ‘a friend text to see how I’m doing’; just small things which make you happy to be alive.
I know these things won’t help everyone, but I thought it was important to share for the 1 or 2 people it might help.
If youre going through it, keep on going. You’ve got this. We’ve got this.
Kintsukuroi- To repair with gold. Understanding that a piece is more beautiful having been broken.