Thursday, March 31, 2016

5 Things To Do When You Realise You Have a Mental Health Disorder

1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. When people find themselves struggling, we often shy away from talking about it, which gives the problem lots of encouragement to deepen. Everyone's mental health journey is different, and I wanted to tell you mine in the hope of helping somebody.

What did I do when I discovered I had an anxiety disorder?

Well, my journey wasn't simple (not that I can imagine many people's are). I suffered with blackouts from the age of around 10. I went back and forth to the doctors; NHS and privately. They couldn't find what was wrong. Eventually, when I was about 17 I had a final appointment with a neurologist who told me "it's just the way you're growing". Thinking this was strange at the time, but what are you to do when a specialist tells you everything's fine?

Looking back now, the signs were obvious. But to be honest, you didn't really hear of things like anxiety and panic attacks going back over 10 years ago. It wasn't talked about, even more so than now. I remember telling my mum I had a bad tummy in the mornings before school, being confused by what I was feeling. I know now what I actually meant, and that was that I had constant butterflies in my stomach, constantly nervous. 

Over time, I became more outspoken, more confident and more outgoing. Starting a part-time job in retail definitely brought me out of my shell. Eventually I moved on to University, all by myself. I loved being in University, I loved socialising, meeting new people and living away from home.

Every now and then I'd get really bad patches where I'd be really upset or really nervous about something. This was usually brought on by something that was happening, so didn't think anything more of it, but I was finding it more and more difficult to handle. University is where I had my first panic attack - mid bloody lecture. That was fun! Things didn't move much further along until I was out of Uni.

I got to my early twenties and I knew something was actually wrong, and I wasn't just having lots of 'off' days. I always thought I was just a sensitive person (which I know I am) and that I just over-react. It wasn't until about two years ago, where it got crippling. I'd have stints where nothing would happen, and I'd be almost paralysed in my room, sobbing uncontrollably. I wouldn't be able to breath, to move, or speak. These would pass and eventually I'd calm down, but more and more I'd experience high intensity panic attacks.

As my anxiety had built up to such a point, I knew I needed to speak out and get help, but we all know it isn't that easy, or simple. In May 2015, I had scheduled a routine doctors appointment to discuss some pain I was having which turned out to be RSI. At the end of my appointment, my Doctor asked the magic words, "is there anything else?" - I burst out crying and he immediately got up, got me some tissue, lent in calmly and told me "everything is going to be okay".

This was the beginning of me getting help. The right choice for me was to try anti-depressants, starting off on a small dosage and eventually having this increased. These aren't magic pills, and there's definitely extra work you have to do if you really want to improve your mental health. I'm still working on the additional bits, and I still have days where I don't feel very well. I'm a workin' progress!

I've put together some things I would recommend if you're struggling.

1. Admitting 
Admitting you have a problem is a really big step. If you keep hiding it away, you may not even realise how big the problem is, or how it is affecting your life. Lots of physical symptoms come from Mental Health disorders, so it's important to know what's going on. Admitting to yourself that you have a problem, and that's okay. What isn't okay is suffering in silence with zero help.

2. Talking
You'd be very surprised as to how many people around you are actually suffering, too (remember 1 in 4!). Wouldn't it be great for us all to be able to talk about this? Your honesty may encourage somebody else to come forward with something they are struggling with. 

3. Getting professional help
This takes a lot of courage, but once you've done it you'll feel a whole lot better. People are there to help you. Just remember that. You aren't a burden. You need to do this for yourself, when you're ready.

4. Getting a buddy
Tell somebody close to you exactly what's going on. Somebody you can trust. If you feel you don't have this person in your life, there are other remedies. Check out this link for different options.

5. Saying bye to the unsupportive
Lots of people are in your life for the sake of it, they are takers. If somebody makes you feel worse about yourself, remove them from your life. They aren't worth your mental health. You're choosing to be around these people, so at least ensure they have a positive impact on your life.

Medication has really helped give me strength to do the extra bits to help keep my mind ticking over. This can be anything you enjoy, which for me is writing. Exercising is really good for boosting your self worth as well as giving you some happy hormones! I do know however, that medication doesn't work for all. With mental health, there's definitely not a "one size fits all" solution and I really encourage you to speak to your Doctor. It takes a lot of courage, but one thing I can tell you is I walked out of that Doctor's Surgery 10 stone lighter.

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1 comment:

  1. Saying goodbye to the unsupportive is such a big one that often gets overlooked! Great post!