This week we are looking closer at mental health and the impact it has on all people.
Having a mental health illness is still considered a stigma pretty much everywhere you go. It is important, nowadays more than ever, that we understand what happens and we start to look after each other more.
I am talking from experience: I was firstly diagnosed with depression when I was 14. Early last year I was diagnosed with it again, and on top I was also diagnosed with severe social anxiety.
Remember, mental illness, like anxiety or depression, is not something that you can always see.
The person suffering from it may seem fine, behave fine, and do things in a completely normal way in front of other people. It is when you are left with your own thoughts or something it’s said or happens that it comes out like a monster ready to eat its prey. If left unnoticed or untreated, it can trigger other phobias or trigger other more pressing health issues.
For example, there was a time where I faked so well my moods at home, school, and work, that I made myself believe I was okay. This was until I reached the tipping point and almost took my life multiple times. There were times where I would be out with friends and totally overthink what was said. Or simply say I would attend gatherings, and then wouldn’t show up with an excuse. A year ago, I realized only because I would have panic attacks every morning right before leaving the house to go to work.
It is terrible to experience, as it leaves you in a constant state of fear, panic, and physical strain. It is also distressing to watch a loved one experience this.
Thankfully, there are a lot of things that you can do and shouldn’t do to help if you live or take care of someone with mental illness:
- Try to recognize the signs. Do they say things like “I am in constant pain” or “I don’t see the point anymore”? Do they become less proactive or restless? Do they behave out of the ordinary at home? Do they have physical symptoms that repeat throughout the day? Are they in a persistent worry? Do they avoid certain situations? Do they behave compulsively?
For example, I become restless, lightheaded and start forgetting things or spacing out during conversations. I also get rushes on my hands or legs which I tend to uncontrollably scratch.
2. Reassure. Remember to be mindful of what you say. Ensure you mark the fact that you are there to help.
3. Do not judge. Or say things like “ don’t worry about it” or start your sentences with “at least…”. These are recognized as toxic positivity and do not help. You are actually endangering your relationship with that person.
4. Listen without giving your opinion. Just listen. If you listen but then give your opinion, they may just become detached to you and won’t share how they feel. Something I hate it’s when people tell me “I understand, but I also feel that way and I do not say anything.” It makes you think the person you are talking to doesn’t really care.
5. Encourage seeking help from a professional. There are free services here in the UK that are provided by the NHS. There are charities, like the Samaritans that are there to help at no cost and are a phone call away. Some people, like me, may find it easier to speak to someone else rather than a close person, as they may think to be judged by their loved ones.
6. Make time. Be there. Sometimes that’s all one needs.
The NHS has a useful list of links and phone numbers to help you and your loved ones.
I recommend getting help. It has helped me, it helps lots of people everyday. Remember peeps, your mental health is important.