For years we have battled our mental health. Trying to hold it all together at school or work, only to get back home and it all to fall apart and unravel. Either in a waterfall of tears or a torrent of abusive words directed at ourselves and others, all with self hate as the headline. If you can relate to this then I hope that what I am about to write helps you.. I’m writing this because I get it. I’m writing this because for years I tried to fit in and as a result medicated myself on a daily basis. At first it helped with the symptoms but over time gave way to a vicious cycle of wellness, before descending back into self hate and misery only for the repeat to fade technique to be adopted. Until one day I stood up to my mental health, got to know it intimately and learnt how to make it work for me rather than the other way round.
When I reached rock bottom and the suicidal thoughts were often.
It’s often written that you need to reach rock bottom before you can claw your way out. Unfortunately this was true in my case. After many years with a cycle of self sabotage, with alcohol as a medication. Other times depression drugs, keeping me in a medicated bubble. I finally hit the absolute depths of despair. That particular day I thought the only answer was for me to take my own life. I felt that by leaving my family, my son and my husband, was in fact the best solution for everyone. Of course I was very wrong (I’ve written before how suicide is not the answer - you can find that blog here) But my mental state had become so lost that i was unable to see clearly or in fact answer myself with the best course of action for me.
If you have been battling poor mental health then you may be too aware of this self hate cycle. I frightened myself so badly that day. That I decided I really needed to find a way out and a way that worked for me. Of course I had tried before and by no way were my precious efforts bad in any way. It’s just that my past efforts had failed to see me as an individual. I had been lumped into the one size fits all camp and in doing that, was unable to find the ways that worked for me.
How mental health affects you.
Newsflash, many mental health symptoms are all very similar. The ways in which we choose to go forward needs to be a little more tailored towards the individual. Most of the solutions for tackling mental health are all very similar in their course of action. The subtlety may be lost on many. However as individuals we need to address what works for us and gravitate towards those strategies. Because in the long run if we aren’t listening to ourselves and making sure that our needs are met then we are sure to end up failing yet again. Adopting a “one size fits all” strategy, over time, can chip away at the soul. The square peg in a round hole springs to mind, time and time again. As a professional trying to help those in mental trauma, saying “well this worked for me” is being a little naïve. Taking this coarse and abrasive approach, can sometimes be more damaging. And this unfortunately was my experience of how the NHS tackles Mental Health..
Let’s face it depression and poor mental health shows up in a similar way. We feel stuck unable to move. Some may be very adept at hiding this depression. Being able to show a different, sunnier side, on a daily basis is a very exhaustive approach and again in the long run does even more damage.. By doing this actually making the depression worse in the long run.
How can you help your mental health?
First of all, STOP…..do nothing. I am giving you permission to stop right now.. No the world will not implode, the ground will not open up and certainly missing the deadline will not lose your job. I know I hear you. I hear the panic in your voice. I’ve been there too. First things first. Let’s start the dialogue. Let’s tell the powers that be (the boss, the workplace, the school hell, even yourself) That you are experiencing difficulty. Don’t be shy, after all together we can stop the stigma of mental health. Let’s not forget that if you had a bad cold, a broken arm or a severe rash you probably would take the day off, in order to nurse yourself better. This is the same approach we should be giving ourselves for mental health worries. If we start at the first time it rears its ugly head then we have a better chance of nipping it in the bud. The self care approach of talking kindly to you is an amazing tried and tested approach by ourselves. We can honestly say that the days we did this our productivity went up not down. And we were actually more able to recognise future episodes and make sure that they didn’t hang around for very long.
So please I implore, take a day off, sit down, look after your immediate needs and just rest for a day or so. On the Roo Betty guide to mental health we have many, many ways that you can try and hopefully find one that works for you. Find it here
How can I help my child?
If you happen to be a parent who is reading this then letting your child know that it’s ok to stop for a while is probably the best lesson you can give them. Being supportive, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and the ability to tell them it's ok not to be ok, and more importantly it’s ok to stop once in a while is where you should be. If you are a parent not managing then I understand. Giving advice to your own child is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Our approach was to give a lot of hugs, we said nothing but listened. With the occasional I love you and I'm here to help. Our advice was often - what do you want to do?. After all we are the experts of ourselves and if you say you don’t want to do something then probably stopping and changing what you are doing is the best thing to do. As I say, chat to the ones in charge and ask for their help. Say you’re having a few days off and then you’ll get back to it. I promise no one will fall behind, we will all find our place and our way in the end. But forcing the issue will lead to quicker burn out. Trust me I know this from experience.
Showing the way is always the best way. Support your child by showing them how you are helping your mental health. With whichever, diet and fitness regime you choose to adopt. Whichever ways you nurture your soul because they work for you, and letting them know that by finding what works for them is the best thing to do. Don’t be surprised if they do the opposite either. Helping your child find a creative outlet is also a great place to start and nurturing that however you can. It’s not always a cash option either there are so many individuals on YouTube to help with little cash spent.
If you are still finding it all too much then I ask you to look towards meditation. This gives you the space you need to hear the questions and in turn the answers. Roo Betty or rather Ruth the owner is busy at the moment putting together a few videos to show how you can tap into meditation and make it work for you. How you can find the space you need to answer your own questions in a positive way that works for you. So if you need to stop please do sit down with a cuppa and show yourself and your child how doing this is the best way to go forward.