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

How to help…

…a friend?

Being a friend watching from the outside I know how difficult it is to know exactly what to do when your friend hasn’t been themselves recently. You don’t know how to approach it but you also don’t want to ignore it.

Approach them as you usually would.

I know this sounds obvious but at time when you’re worried you can get ahead of yourself and ask 101 questions. Anyone with mental health issues knows the last thing they need is to feel as if they’re under police investigation. So just ask them the normal things, how they’re doing? How is work/studying/school? Have they got plans this week? Don’t pry don’t push just be normal. It’s a difficult thing telling people for the first time that you haven’t been yourself especially when you have no reason as to why it is so, just give it time.

 

Do something they know they would appreciate.

Buy them a coffee, spend some quality time with them, make them dinner whatever you know they will like. Don’t make a deal of it just do it as a nice gesture. With mental health issues whether it be anxiety, depression, schizophrenia etc. the person tends to believe the lie that they are unloved or no one likes them. Doing the small gestures that don’t seem that big a deal to you can change the world to them and remind them they have someone around them who is willing to stand by their side when they need it most. They are so much more likely to talk to you when they remember you really do care about them.

 

If they tell you  

LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!!! I cannot emphasise this enough. The person struggling has being trying to figure it out for years and I’m sorry to say but it is highly likely that you’re input isn’t going to fix it. I do not doubt they have already thought of everything you are about to tell them. Sit and listen, don’t try to interrupt or put words in their mouths, don’t give them a solution – let them talk. It’s probably taken a lot of courage to tell you so please give them your full attention (*n.b. cup of tea may be necessary at this point*).

 

Advice

Firstly, I guess I would say to reassure them that you’re there for it whenever they need and you’re so glad that they’ve told you. Ask them if there is any way you can help, if they’re finding it difficult to get up in the morning you could offer to make them breakfast so they know they have a reason to get up and they also have the joy of seeing their friend without the hassle of deciding what to eat. Do they need to get out for a while; should you plan to meet up and go for a walk. Do they want to do more exercise; you could do a gym class together. The list is endless so think outside the box.

Secondly, it may that they just needed to get it off their chest and that has helped already but on the other hand you may realise they need more help than you can offer. Don’t force them but suggest to them to visit their doctor (**side note – I know it isn’t always the best thing and I will write a blog tomorrow in more detail about that**). You can offer to go with them for moral support or ask them if they want you to book the appointment because sometimes even lifting the phone to talk to someone can fill you with absolute fear that makes you speechless. The whole idea is make the process for them getting help as easy as possible for them.

 

At risk

If you think someone is at risk of hurting themselves then YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEONE. I can tell you from experience it is not the nicest thing in the world to do and it’s terrifying (sorry for not sugar-coating). I know the fears that they’re going to hate you for a while and they probably will but remember this is someone you care too much about them to let it pass you by. You’re doing them a favour. Usually, it is best to phone a family member their close to who you know would be good help but if you have absolutely no idea who to get in contact with then here are a list of helplines that you can get in touch with 24/7:

Samaritans: 116 123

Childline: 0800 1111

PAPYRUS: 0800 068 41 41

 

We’re all in this weird thing called life together, look out for each other

Love,

Hannah xoxox

When revision takes over

Revision time is always a period when my mental health takes a turn for the worst. I don’t actually know why this is because I LOVE studying (nerd.) but it always leaves me feeling really low.

So here are a few hints and tips I’ve learnt over the last 8 years when it comes to exam time….

1) PLAN PLAN PLAN

Seriously… plan. Sometimes it gets so overwhelming with so much to do and so little time – we all know the feeling.

So firstly, I have a massive poster on my wall where I write all the days of my exams in and shifts for work to give me the overall view/time frame.

Secondly, I have my dairy which is basically a daily planner. Every night (or sometimes morning) I plan my day to a T even to the time it will take me to get places. Okay, this sounds a bit insane but honestly my psychologist suggested it and it has been life changing!! Previously, I would stress myself out because I would plan one thing right after another then realise I didn’t have the time to actually get between the two events. Also, I used to study for hours on end without and break and it was really unproductive so by planning I always factor in times for a break.

2) Plan coffee breaks (tea, hot chocolate, cold drinks what ever takes you fancy)

This is the perfect excuse to catch up with all those friends you’ve been too busy to see throughout the year. I love this time because it means I have something to look forward to in the day and it means I get to see some of my favourite people ❤ this never fails to help ward off mental illnesses.

3) Go for walks

I just do not do well sitting down all day cause I get so bored so when I realise I’ve been sitting down too long I get up and go for a walk – whether that be outside or just a wee nosey round the library it always helps me refocus. Also in case you didn’t realise I LOVE taking pictures so going for a walk always gives me some insta content (LOL). So…. Get your self up off your arse and use the legs you were given, get some fresh air and let your brain re-calibrate.

4) Have a good music playlist

Music is life. Well for me it is as I honestly listen to it 24/7 (I swear there is even music in my dreams). If you are like me and need music to study make sure you have a playlist that makes you feel like that independent women (or man) that you are. You need those songs that make you feel as if nothing can stop you and you are on top of the world. So before you start those long library slogs or before the one start tomorrow make a really REALLY good pick-you-up playlist!!!

5) Targets

Sometimes we go through a 7 hour library day and come out wondering what we actually got done?! You ended up feeling so deflated and unmotivated meaning you feel like CRAP! Set (realistic) targets then by the end of the day you can tick them off and actually look back and realise you absolutely smashed the day. If you don’t reach them all – that’s okay there is always tomorrow or maybe you tried to cram to much into that day. At the end of the day if you’ve ticked off one of your targets you did more than you thought.

6) Change your environment

Finding those four walls around you are making you go insane and you’re starting to hallucinate. Get your stuff and get out. You don’t need to imprison yourself to the same place day in day out, it you find you’re no longer getting anywhere go try somewhere else. Maybe a coffee shop, a different library, a friends house, go outdoors and take some reading you need to get done, your living room. The list is endless – be creative with it and you’ll surprise yourself with how much a different environment can help.

7) If you’re unproductive –STOP!

People hate hearing that – I’ve heard all the comments “Oh, I don’t have enough time” “I have sooo much to do” – okay cool but seriously the more you sit and stare at the screen the less you are going to get done and I’m telling you this from experience. I used to push through and got maybe a total of 2 slides from a lecture done in 3 hours. Now when I know work is going no where I do one of three things – go to the gym, make food or read articles. Everyone is different and enjoy different things so find things that you enjoy doing that take about and hour or so note them down then use them.

8) Laugh

CHEESY AND CRINGY.

I know but do you have a picture/video that always makes you laugh? Maybe your like me and the memes people tag you in make you laugh out loud. Just remember no matter how down you feel find at least one thing in the day that will make you laugh. Every smile counts ❤

Happy revision guys,

Hannah xoxox