Recently I have seen posts on Facebook and Instagram like this one –
This has made me think about how much help such a sentiment would have. To help explain my thinking I am going to share my own story.
“When my 30th birthday approached I started to feel really down, actually I didn’t really know how I felt although I did act angry towards everyone. Over a few months things just seemed to get worse. I could see I was adversely effecting my husband and children and I started to feel like a burden. I got so bad I made a plan to end my life, said goodbye to my kids and went to sleep with a sense of peace.
I was lucky, something inside me sensed the urgency to fight for my life and I sought help from an amazing Counsellor who helped me gain deep personal insight and make changes to my life. However, had someone told me I would pass my pain to someone else I know it wouldn’t have stopped my plans, I felt my pain was already causing pain to those I loved.”
So what should we say to those we love and suspect may be having suicidal thoughts?
I needed someone to hear me, someone to tell me it would get better, someone to tell me to fight. What do you think?
So often I hear people say, ‘just lock me away, I’m crazy’, and I wonder is this how people see mental health? Is it a diagnosable condition like schizophrenia or psychosis, with obvious outwardly symptoms? Or perhaps it’s depression and anxiety, struggles many can conceal? Maybe it’s more simple than that and it’s all to do with how we feel, happy, sad, confused?
Mental health to me is so much more than that. It can be seen as physical symptoms, for instance a headache that won’t go away or loss of appetite without any physical cause. It is how we talk to ourselves, I’m guilty of this one, calling myself stupid every time I put my coffee in the fridge and carry the milk into the office!
Looking after our mental health should be something we all do, whether we have a diagnosis or we feel perfectly fine and healthy, as they say prevention is better than cure.
If we fall and cut our knees we bandage them up, so how do we look after something we can’t see?
Simple tips to help look after your mental health
- Talk about your feelings – getting things off your chest can be a real relief. If you feel unable to talk to friends or family, you could contact a counsellor in your area. Alternatively, write everything down, maybe seeing it in black and white will help put things in perspective.
- Keep active – regular exercise can help boost self-esteem, concentration, sleep and help you look and feel better. It helps keep your brain and other vital organs healthy. Even going for a light walk could help.
- Eat well – your brain and body need a mix of nutrients to stay healthy. Everyone loves a treat but throw in some fruit and vegetables to help boost the vital vitamins and minerals you need.
- Keep in touch – we are social beings and although the urge may be to lock yourself away, interacting and socialising will benefit your mental health.
- Ask for help – don’t be afraid to ask for help, visit your GP, a counsellor or one of many organisations out there such as the samaratins, action mental health and mind.
- Take a break – looking after yourself isn’t selfish it’s necessary. So if you can get a few days away, if not what about carving out some time in the day to do something you love, paint, read, drive, swim. (Personally, I love filling the bathtub with warm water and bubbles and soaking away my worries.)
Look after your mental health as you would your physical health because you are worth it.
We have spent the past few days, painting, cleaning and organising all in preparation for the new office. As I sat on the floor feeling proud I realised how grateful I was for those who were so willing to help.
Sadly we don’t all have ‘people’ and I wonder what happens when you have nobody to turn to? Is this why as a society we are quick to reply with ‘fine’ when asked how we are? Mental health shouldn’t be taboo and a fly away comment such as ‘how are you?’ should give us the opportunity to reach out when we need.
The next time you are asked, how are you, or you ask the question, take a longer look at the person in front of you. Are they really fine?