So you may have seen I posted about my own mental health and my happy pills. Well… it turns out I’m defo not alone. In fact I was overwhelmed by the response I had off the back of the post – over 3,000 people viewed it and lots of people reached out for support. That’s pretty cray cray!
So, it became obvious that there’s still a big job to do in terms of breaking down the stigma and shouting about the importance of mental health.
To help, I recruited some absolutely inspirational people out there.
As there are so many different types of mental illness to address, I decided to speak with a selection and get their first hand advice.
So for those struggling with bi-polar or suicidal thoughts, check out Adriana.
For those with anxiety and issues with body confidence or an eating disorder check out Rose. And for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from OCD check out Will.
First up we have author Adriana Wheatley, who’s just launched her book, Ana – Her Suicide Story.
This absolute babe of a woman shared her pearls of wisdom with me on all things mental health and recovery, along with this amazing free to use website that can help you to calm your beans when you’re on one. Not going to lie – I’m planning on using this a shit load! https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome
Here’s what she had to say…
From your experience, what’s been your greatest help and what would you advise to people who are struggling?
I would say the greatest thing you can do for yourself is to open up and be completely honest about your struggle with your family and friends, because you need support during this tough time. It might sound daunting and you might be worried about their reaction, but I can guarantee your friends and family would hate to hear that you’re suffering and will do all they can in their power to help you – be it just listening to your worries or getting you the professional help you may need. It’s completely ok to not be coping with life, but it’s imperative you talk about it with your support network, otherwise it will only get worse.
I made the mistake of not telling anyone about my struggle with depression when I was living in London in 2011, which only lead to my mental state deteriorating – so much so, that I ended up trying to commit suicide. I am now so open with my family, friends and doctor, so I know I will never get to that point again.
My intention with this book has always been to raise awareness on the symptoms of someone with severe depression and what can happen if they symptoms are ignored. Based on my own experience in 2011, the book follows Ana, the protagonist, during her final six days before she makes a serious attempt on her life. I educate readers on what psychosis looks like and how it leads Ana to eventually believe unshakeably that everyone wants her dead, and her only option is suicide. Also, I hope that the book helps people who have lost a loved one to suicide realise that their loved one was very very sick and that attempting suicide is never ever a rational decision, but because of an incredibly cruel illness.
Finally, profits of the book are going to a number of mental health charities – Rethink Mental Illness, Aware (Ireland) and Young Urban Arts Foundation for which I am an advisor on their new campaign aimed at young people with mental health issues.
To find out more about Adriana and the book Her Suicide Story visit: http://sheroseagain.com
Second to share there advice was Rose Walters. Rose is a 24 year old copywriter who has changed her life around after suffering from debilitating depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Rose developed depression a few years following her recovery from Anorexia, aged 16. She self-harmed during this time and she was really quite poorly, she spent a lot of time out of college as she tended to stay at home in bed.
Here’s what Rose had to say:
Anorexia is so greatly misunderstood by people who haven’t experienced it themselves. And these misconceptions and assumptions massively affect people who are suffering right now – with a significant impact on recovery. Anorexia is ‘a choice’. It’s only about ‘being thin’ and ‘vanity’. Eating disorders don’t need to be treated with seriousness or urgency.
But actually if we saw Anorexia differently, as a society we could prevent eating disorders and better treat and support people with them. If we saw eating disorders as parasites, not as the actions of a person. If we realised that early intervention is key. When we focus on positive recovery stories and not on sensational headlines, harmful pictures and unhelpful dietary advice. That’s when people with eating disorders will start to feel cared for and confident – and have their recovery supported and strengthened, not hampered, by the world around them.
Rose can be found blogging at Tough Cookie so head over for more advice and support http://www.toughcookieblog.co.uk
Last but not least we have the lovely Will. Here are Will’s thoughts on OCD:
Growing up with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a weird one. I mean no disrespect to anyone else who has experienced it. In fact, all the people I have met who have suffered it agree; logic is as far removed from OCD as anything can be. Allow me to contextulise. Most of my obsessions were around ‘bad things’ happening to my loved ones, and the ‘bad things’ could essentially be anything that could result in serious harm or death. I had this preoccupation with mortality and death, and how fragile life itself in fact is. It’s something I couldn’t shake, and still can’t to this day. I would carry out these rituals to prevent anything terrible happening yet, even as a child, the logical part of my brain knew that there was no connection between carrying out these rituals and the fate of those I cared about.
I developed OCD at a young age and, as you can imagine, dealing with thoughts like the ones I’ve described was tough. I felt fear, confusion and shame, and this combination plus the thought that no one would understand, kept me silent about it for about 15 years. By the time it finally broke me and I couldn’t take it any longer I was about 23 years old. I was at the end of my tether. I just couldn’t cope.
From my experience I can tell you that there is no magic cure but, I do know that staying silent and not seeking support is not a healthy way to be. Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone should be forced to talk about it when they’re not ready. At best that would be counter-productive and at worst disastrous. I believe the best way to support people is through education starting at school age. Arming people with the knowledge that it is normal to experience some kind of mental health issue (1 in 4 people will experience some form of it in any given year), providing information and knowledge about it, and informing people of the support networks and structures that are set up specifically to help with this once they are ready to talk.
From my own personal experience I find a creative outlet to be particularly therapeutic. For me it’s writing. In fact, it helped me through a particular dark time in my life in my late 20s. These writings went on to form the basis is my debut novel Default Setting: A Nervous Breakdown. It is available as a download for £2.69 on I-tunes, Amazon, Google Play and Kobo. If you are struggling, I would highly recommend looking into some form of creative outlet as it really helped me get what I was feeling inside of me out, and I’m so thankful that it found me.
What to do if you’re feeling bad?
Three very different stories and three very different experiences with mental health challenges. But there is one common thread… don’t be ashamed, speak out to someone you trust and be proud of who you are. There is no shame in mental illness.
For advice and help there are loads of charities and organisations out there – from the Samaritans to dialling 111 for support. There are also plenty of apps and online guides to support you with your mental health – I’ve found Mood Gym and Remente (https://remente.com) really useful.