How to help…yourself


Yourself.

When it’s no longer just been a down day or a bad couple of weeks. Now you realise it’s turned into months and you’re feeling low all the time or like me you feel nothing…numb. How do you get help? How do you help yourself?

Firstly, I want to say it took me until I was 20 years old to get help, so I get it. It’s really really difficult to do something about it especially when you have no reason to feel this way and also don’t have words to explain how you feel. If you look back to my very first blog I refer to my emotion as “it” because it didn’t fit under any of the emotions we use as humans to express things. “It” kind of looks like a mixture of fog, grey clouds and a black hole all in one and I mean what does that even look like?

Tell someone

It took me to break down over a stats homework to finally pick up the phone to my dad and say I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had no explanation as to why, I had nothing more to tell him than I didn’t want to do it anymore. (Fortunately, I have the most amazing Dad and he knows exactly what to tell me and what to say in that moment.) But without a doubt it was the first step to getting better. Telling someone you can really depend on and trust whether that be a family member, a friend, maybe someone who has been through it will be the best decision you make, I promise ❤.

Whoever you choose, know they are ready and willing to listen. The people who love you DO NOT want you feeling this way so as scary as it is you will be pleasantly surprised. In fact, they have probably been worried about you for a while and telling them you will see the relief wash across their face as they now are going to be able to help you which is something they have wanted to do for so long.

Go to your GP

I tell you to do this and YOU SHOULD but I want to also point out that GP’s don’t always know what to do. It isn’t their fault, they have a 10minute slot with you before the next patient comes in, they have to know nearly every condition under the sun as well as trying to keep up with the latest medical research. Mental health isn’t a quick 10minute fix and most of them know this but still more than likely they will offer you medication, give you a few websites to look up and give you a phone number to refer yourself to a psychologist (which is a 6month waiting list).

All this information and what do you do with it? You’re too tired to get yourself out of bed never mind google these websites or pick up the phone to make an appointment? My advice would be to get the person who you told to help you. My mum was great and tried to help me get a psychologist, so she did a lot of the phone calls to get me the help I needed which was blessing because I used to shake until I felt sick if I had to phone someone. If possible get someone else to make the phone calls, help arrange the appointments and maybe even go with you to them…it might be good having some moral support beside you?

In terms of medication, I am fortunate enough that I study psychology and had a fair idea about the pros/cons of medication. I opted for medication because I needed anything to try and make it better without having to wait for another 6 months but even that was a journey in itself and you can read that in the road to recovery. Also, I think there is definitely a biological basis to mental illnesses so from the research I read I wanted to give that a try. However, now my first advise to anyone who has asked me about medication is try not and take it as a first option!! Hypocritical of me as it is exactly what I did but after experiencing it all myself I think other therapies are crucial in getting better like CBT is great and I would highly recommend!!!

The other stuff

So, you’ve told someone, you’ve been to the doctor and it is going to take time believe me I’m still going through the process and I don’t think I’ll reach the end anytime soon. So, what do you do if you need a bit of encouragement and motivation now? Well, read others stories, follow Instagram pages that inspire you, listen to music that makes you feel excited to do life again. I’m going to give you a list of books and websites that I have found really useful over the years and return to again and again when I need something to motivate me there and then.

Books:

  • Depressive illness: the curse of the strong by Tim Cantopher
  • Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig
  • The heartache that no one sees by Shelia Walsh
  • Spurgeon’s sorrow: A realistic hope for those who suffer depression by Zack Ewsine

Websites:

If you have any questions about any of it or want me to go into detail in more of it shoot me a message

Much love,

Hannah

xoxox

Behind the scenes

I’ve never been very good at opening up. Yea big coming from me but honestly hiding behind a computer screen opening up is a lot easier than in person.

Let me show you two pictures…..

 

 

These were both from the same day 6 hours apart. The first one – the one the world sees; a smile, make up on, dressed up and confession edited (as if you didn’t already know).  The second, the one we never want to show the world, a tear stained, unfiltered/untouched face. The image of what is really underneath the smile.

I’m guessing you’re wondering why I’m showing you this? Well, because I want to show people the realness and consequences of mental illness, what it’s really like when you’re having that low day/period. What it feels like after the day is done, your make-up comes off, you’re in your pj’s and you’re alone.

I’ve opened up for the world about my illness, I’ve told those closest to me and I message people when I’m not okay but still…still I have these days when I can do nothing but crawl away to be by myself and sob until my head hurts, eyes are raw red from the tears and there is no water left in my body. Opening up is no longer an option but friends understand it isn’t because I don’t think there isn’t someone I can tell because there are more of you out there than I could ever imagine that are ready to pick up the pieces whenever I need.  However, the most difficult part of these days is the fact for being so open I just can’t find the words to talk – I become temporarily mute.

Please please please for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position and reading this don’t feel disheartened on these days. Don’t feel like it it’s a step back because simply, it’s not. Recovering from any illness, there are going to be days harder than others but the good days are coming, they really are I promise. Every once in a while it’s okay to be alone and cry, half the time it lets me wake up feeling so much better because all the emotion just needed released. One note, just don’t let it become habit.

6 hours apart…how can it change so quick? Hmm, your guess is as good as mine. Honestly, one day I can wake up and feel like I’m ready to skip, flip or cartwheel down the street then half way up that street I want to pull my hood up over my head, look to the floor and walk as fast as I can until I get to the end of it. Fellow sufferers, my friends, friends of sufferers I know it’s hard to take but our mood can change in an instant. We understand it’s so difficult for you to know what to do but just know you being there is enough, we may not seem like great company (sorry) but it helps having someone there even if it isn’t to talk and just do your own thing. Other times we need to go and be by ourselves. It’s never a reflection on you or what’s happened, it’s all in our heads – give us time we’ll come around again. The best thing for you guys as friends, supporters, hand holders to do is just read the situation and learn what is best to do for that person when it all changes so suddenly.

But… generally guys, keep doing what you’re doing because even if you feel insignificant in the situation you have no idea how much good it is doing underneath the surface.

Finally, for those suffering, take comfort. Even for those who think I outwardly appear to have “recovered”, I still have those times of struggling and times when darkness takes over. I have come a long way since this all began and it has taken years to get any degree of better but it’s not complete and that’s okay. I’m not as strong as I look all the time but as Shawn Mendes says (cringe)

“Hold on…there is so much life ahead of you”. 

How to cope….

How to cope….

When depression hits what do you do?

Recently, this has been something that a lot of people seem to be asking about. As many of you know there are times when we feel we cannot get out of bed or face the day ahead. We don’t want to go on that night out we have been looking forward to for weeks or the thought of having to go to work leaves us feeling overwhelmed to the point we will break down in tears.

These are a few things I do in these moments  and ways that I can still get myself out of beds in the morning.

 

  • Music

Music is my life. Honestly, I listen to it day in and day out and I used to put on the music that fitted my mood, you know sad slow depressing music but I realised the negative impact it was having. So, I changed that. When I feel down one of the best things for me is to put on song that makes me want to dance. I have a playlist called “keep smiling” which I put on when I can’t drag myself out of bed. Although it won’t fix it all at once it usually helps me enough that I can immerse myself in it enough to start the day off and get out of my cave aka bed.

  • Shower and put on your favourite outfit

Even if it has taken me four hours to get out of bed I hop straight in the shower, I put on my music and take some time to myself before having to face the day ahead. Even if it is only in and out it always leaves me feeling a bit better and more refreshed. I then have a go to outfit that I know never fails me. It isn’t anything special just black jeans and a grey polo neck but I know that when I put it on I will never doubt what I’m wearing or wonder if I look “good” in it. I feel comfortable and that is SUPER important.

  • Exercise

This word used to have so many negative associations with it for me. I would force myself to go to the gym and always beat myself up if I didn’t work hard enough. Now I have learnt to only work as hard as I can manage that day but afterwards I always feel that bit better for doing some exercise. Some days all I can manage is a walk, others I need to go to the gym and push myself. It’s all about knowing how you feel that day. What I am sure of is no matter whether it was the toughest work-out I’ve ever done or it was just a 20 minute walk it makes me feel better.

  • Treat myself

Okay so I’m on a student budget and can’t be treating myself to holidays or clothes all the time. For me, my treat yo’self is getting a coffee, having a diet coke, buying a nice lunch or making one of my favourite meals. It doesn’t have to be anything big but I know that when I have something to look forward to that day it makes it feel achievable.

(**one thing I would say though is try not to treat yourself with alcohol – it’s a depressant and if you’re feeling low it isn’t the best idea)

  • Pray

I know not everyone understands this and the reason I believe in God, my Father, is a blog in itself. When I feel as if I can’t go on anymore I turn straight to him and it is yet to fail me. If I’m in my bedroom all by myself I wrap my arms around my legs and cry out to him, if I’m out and about it’s all in my head. God never says it was going to be easy, he just said he would be there for you (John 16:33; Philippians 1:6).  So far, he has always been there for me.

  • But most importantly….TALK

I have never been good at this and I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit this but talking always helps. I have people in my life I know I can trust and can go straight to when things do not feel they are going my way. It can be frustrating because I don’t always have a reason for feeling this way and that is what makes it so difficult to open up. Learn who the people are in your life who you can just tell you are feeling like crap that day and they’ll be there for you.

Sometimes though it is WAY too difficult to open up and I just can’t do it. For these days, I’ve started a document on my computer and I just open it up and type all my thoughts down. Half the time they aren’t coherent and I’m going around in circles but even just the act of BLURTING IT OUT helps release me from my despair enough to be proactive in feeling better and eventually lead to being able to tell someone.

Everyone has different ways to cope and please be aware that these are only mine. Nonetheless I hope that some of you can find that they might be able to help you out as well.

Much love,

Hannah xox

Maybe this will help…?

 

So here are a few things that a lot of time we want people to know but can never say when depression mutes us.

Family and Friendships

We love you lot, believe me we really do. Most of the time you are the glue holding us together and turning our tears into laughter. In the middle of our depressive bouts it’s what we need the most even when we fail to admit it.

But you see at the same time it can cost us a lot of energy and we’re really sorry about the consequences of this.

If you ask us to go somewhere and we all of a sudden ‘don’t feel like it’ isn’t because we don’t want to see you or spend time with you. It’s because to us it feels as if you have just asked us to run three marathons back to back.

If we don’t reply, it isn’t because we don’t want to. It is because our brain makes us believe that replying to that simple question is equivalent to writing your 10,000 word dissertation in 1 minute.

Despite our inability to communicate or express what our head/emotions are experiencing, knowing that you will be there to pick up the phone when we need means more than you giving me the world could ever mean. We want you to know at these times (well always but especially in these times) we appreciate all you do more than you can ever imagine.

Just hold on long enough until we have the energy again to tell you how much your friendship is worth to us.

Boyfriends and Girlfriends

We distance ourselves from ourselves because of the destruction our thoughts cause. If we don’t want to know ourselves how could we ever want anyone else to know us.

Whenever you tell us we’re beautiful we don’t believe it. Not in the “oh tell me again” but in the you fear looking at the mirror because what you see staring back at you is disgusting. Don’t even get on to the fact that you ACTUALLY like us – in our world that is as if you just told us you went to the moon and back in a day.

A lot of the time though this is what we crave the most – someone to feel that extra closeness with that we can sit and cry next to but they will (try) not to demand an explanation for it or feel it is in relation to them.

Yes, a lot of the time we tend to seem annoyed at you or sharp or snappy and once again we’re sorry. But if it is in any way possible to put a positive spin on it you can take it as a compliment. The reason you seem to bear the brunt of our illness is because you’re one of the few people we trust in life. You mean more to us then most people in the world and we don’t mean or want to push you away but sometimes we aren’t that great on controlling our feelings of anger, frustration or isolation.

Please bear with us – we’re trying.

University and work

Surprisingly, it can go one of two ways either we use it to distract us and thus spend every minute of the waking day studying or it seems so impossible we cannot drag ourselves out of bed.

You see that assessment that your stressing over – we are too. However, for us it feels as if someone has just told us to pull around a 44-tonne lorry with only a rope for a week.

The thought of a day at work can make us want to crawl into a dark cupboard, curl up and get someone to lock it so we never have to face this place known as society again.

It isn’t that we don’t enjoy studying or work in fact most of the time we do. Rather it is our belief that we are unable to carry it out. Sometimes we don’t think we are capable enough to complete what lies ahead and other times it just seems an impossible task that would take years to complete.

Please when we are in the midst of our melt down don’t tell us we are being ridiculous and we’re capable of it because honestly we are not in any way going to believe it right there and then. Just help us out if possible and let us get on with it. We’ll get there.

 

Most importantly just know we’re trying.

Sometimes trying is really REALLY difficult.

But we’re still trying.

xoxox

 

 

Healing and Hope

I have depression.

Yes – sassy, crazy, centre of attention Hannah has depression.

We all have our secrets and that has been mine for the last 21 years.

But I also have something else in my life. I have Jesus.

For as long as I can remember I have been riddled with an emotion I came to call ‘It’. A lot of the time ‘it’ looks like a thick mist whist in a maze which is never ending, no matter how many more steps forward you take you can never see a clearing. It engulfs you, inhibits you, it takes away your characteristics creating a zombie. Sometimes it causes you to become a recluse never wanting to face another person again and at other times you do not want anyone to ever leave your side. It ruins relationships with family, friends and boyfriends, it stops you reaching achievements all because you cannot love or believe in yourself. It is something you can never fully explain to anyone because you cannot even explain it to yourself.

I know so many of you will be sceptical as you continue to read this but at least hear me out. I have grown up all my life hearing who this guy God was, understanding what it entailed to be that ‘perfect’ Christian. I heard the stories of all the great things he had done for other people, how others had been made completely better. Lucky them, right? How fortunate are they God is healing them so why not me? I’m not good enough for anyone, not even God. God loves everyone but me, I am yet to see any proof that he loves me. I battled with these thoughts and believed I couldn’t be healed because I could never be this ‘perfect’ Christian I had to be which eventually lead me to run away from my faith to seek assurance in anything but God.

I tried various different techniques and used numerous people over the years to try and heal it. I became a gym fanatic (which I still am but not for the same reasons), I became dependent on my appearance, I watched endlessly to see if the number of likes would increase on my latest post, I had to be the most popular and loved girl in school, and constantly relied on having a boy. Each of these, one at a time began to overrule my life all because in my head each one I tried MUST BE the solution.

I could not have been more wrong.

The day I was healed was the day I realised I needed nothing more than simply Jesus.

Knowing Jesus was the solution.

I had been on anti-depressants for 4 months after finally 20 years later I found the courage to admit I was not well. These drugs were continually upped until I was almost at the maximum dose possible – it still wasn’t working, I couldn’t see any future where happiness existed, at 20 years old I didn’t even understand what happiness felt like. However, finally one Saturday night this January (which I will never forget) I was healed. I sat in the snow with non-stop tears listening to the depressing playlist I had on repeat for weeks thinking of ways to make sure I wouldn’t see the next day or the one after that (you get the picture). Yet, for some unknown reason after 9 months of refusing to acknowledge Jesus I played the song ‘One thing remains’- Hillsong.

When I was younger I imagined the day I was healed to be a big wondrous miracle, like a musical on Broadway. It was nothing like that. It was quiet and dark with only me sat in the snow freezing my ass off, listening to the reminder that even when I fail his love never fails and he simply healed me. Somehow that night – I am yet to understand how – he reminded me he never asked me to be the ‘perfect’ Christian and I didn’t have to be to be healed he asked me to accept him as my saviour, he was all I needed. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.

Don’t get me wrong ‘it’ is part of me, it will never leave and every day I still have to take those tablets, without them I feel myself slipping back into the self-deprecating person I was. Healing has not come in the way humans expect it whereby it leaves and will never exists again such as when someone is healed of a physical illness. One thing I am certain of is that ‘it’ is still very much in my life but Jesus healed me by giving me the opportunity not to let ‘it’ rule my life but to let him rule my life.

Those who know me are very aware I am nowhere near this ‘perfect’ Christian and mess up every single day and will continue to do so (I am human). I still long for that relationship with a boy and to feel beautiful but when this happens I remind myself of the love I felt that night. Even when I hate myself and feel others hate me – he loves me, even when I cannot accept myself and it feels as if no one else accepts me – he accepts me. This is difficult to come to grips with and for some people it takes a lot longer than 21 years but it is possible for everyone. He wants to show you the love he has for you if you let him.

Clearly, I have grown up with Christianity surrounding me and so I don’t blame any of you for thinking it is all well and good for you having Jesus but he isn’t for me, he won’t change my life. Erm, negative. Jesus is for everyone and he wants you to accept the relationship he offers. In acts 10:34-35 it says “Truly I understand that God shows no particularity, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” There is no one God will not accept if you accept him. As I said I am the furthest thing from perfect which many of you will have seen multiple times (prominent example, nights out), I have messed up as much if not more than many of you reading this (if you want to know just ask) and will continue to do so. I am a sinner. But you know what Jesus himself said,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

It was never that God was not healing me it was that I wasn’t letting him.

There is always healing and there is always hope.

Never give up.