10 October 2014

The importance of understanding.

Prepare yourself for a longer than normal post. Sorry people, this is important (to me anyway!).

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. If you visit the Mental Health Foundations website you will notice that each year there is a particular focus and this year it is on Schizophrenia, however the site has a lot of interesting, insightful and educational material about all aspects of mental health. Today I have decided to tell you my experiences (very briefly). This is not something I have chosen to do lightly but I honestly feel it is important (and helpful to others) to share thoughts ans experiences and coping mechanisms. 

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{Image sourced from Pinterest | Originally from here}

Since the age of about 14/15 years old I have been on a roller-coaster of mental health problems, that is pretty much 20 years of my life. I have my extreme highs and lows and it is always in the background. As a teenager I think it was possibly looked upon as a phase but as I grew older I believed it was a part of who I am and that I had to learn to live with the shadows that frequently appear in my mind.

What happens and why?

Well, this has no pattern. Sometimes I can be on top of the world before crashing down. Other days it can be very evident why I have taken a downward turn. Either way it amounts to the following symptoms:
- low mood
- feeling tearful
- easily overwhelmed by simple tasks or situations
- panic attacks
- lack of sleep or wanting to sleep all the time
- quick temper
- lethargic
- inability to cope
- loss of concentration
- irritability
- feeling scared
- high level of anxiety
- agoraphobia

I have other symptoms that I would rather not discuss as they are very personal and, sometimes, more severe,  but I believe these are the more frequent ones experienced by most people.

My most recent assessment diagnosed me with depression, not bipolar, which is what it is, but I am generally a happy bunny, not someone (I hope) that you would look at and think 'wow, she is miserable!'. I would just rather think that my head is poorly and get on with it. I like to think that most people, unless I open up to them, would never know that this is part of my life. I work bloody hard to not show the struggle for a couple of reasons. The first is because I still believe that there is a huge stigma associated with mental health, I wish with all of my heart that there wasn't and it is something I am very passionate about, but there is. The other reason is to trick my very own brain in to a different mood. This works. More on this later.

As I have got older the darker days have got less, mostly due to my determination not to let it get the better of me but it can still hit me hard sometimes. More amazingly I have had absolutely no time off work with this stupid thing in well over 5 years. I put that down to working with some pretty awesome folk who regularly make me laugh and having a very supportive network of friends and family.

My other coping strategies.

Let It Be.
Sometimes there is no getting out of it, so let it happen, feel it and then let it go. One of my worst habits is (and I quote my mum here) snowballing it all together. I can't tell you how often she has said 'stop snowballing it all', but it just happens this way when you are feeling low. Acceptance of that moment is key. That and having an almighty cry. Always a good thing!

Brain Trickery
My way of getting the hell on with things. On the worst days, the days where I want to cover up my head with the duvet and stay there (forever) I see things in minute chunks. I say to myself 'right Lucy, all you need to do is get up and sit on the edge of the bed, that's all...can you do that?', then 'well done you (go team!), why not have a little shower and wash your hair, everything feels better then, you know I am right'... etc etc. When I get to work I plant a smile on my face and fake it until I feel happier. Simples. Brain trick complete. On days where this doesn't work (rare but it happens) refer to above  and let it be.

Exercise.
A game changer. Feeling depressed? Exercise. I find it hard to go out when I feel low so I have a way round that, exercise DVDs (is it ironic that I am doing INSANITY?).

Nutrition.
Another no-brainer. Eat right. Don't allow junk food and excess sugar to mess up your mood on top of what is already going on.

Don't Drink Alcohol.
I am basically a non-drinker 90% of the year. Alcohol lowers my mood. If it does the same to you just quit! Have treats in the form of other things and keep an eye on what makes it worse for you. Do your body as many favours as you can. Be nice to it and it will help. Trust me on this.

My decision is to stay away from medications also. Now, please don't take this to mean that I think they don't work. It is all very personal, depends on the severity of the issue and the condition you have, but for me they just do not work. I cannot handle the weight gain and sickness involved but I know some people who have had their lives changed through taking medications. Listen to the advice of the professionals but remember it is your body. Remember that there is nothing wrong with you for feeling bad for no reason, it is an illness so get help and, more importantly, talk about it. Fill your life with things that make you happy and surround yourself with positive people, this will also help.

Sorry if this post has been a bit of a mind dump but I am extremely passionate about this issue. I have also never discussed it in this way before but hope it will help at least one person.

If you want to get in touch please do. You can email me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com or via any number of social media platforms!
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7 comments

  1. Fantastic post, It will touch the hearts of so many people , so well written.

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    1. Thank you. It is never an easy thing to write about. Glad you liked the post x

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  2. I missed this when it was posted due to competitions (yes I'm a nutter - already established ;) ). I'm going to treat myself and read it properly later, but a skim read shows it to be excellent. I think maybe I should do a similar post sometime...

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    1. You should do it for sure. It took a fair amount of time to get the guts to write it and put it out there but seeing as it was World Mental Health Day I thought, why not! xx

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  3. You there, I missed this first time (I've been far away from blogland with my own demons) but I read it now and I think you're incredible for putting this out there and I'm sure it'll help someone going through the same.
    I'm a big believer of 'faking it til you feel it' which can work on the not so dark days but sometimes you've just got to ride it out.
    Sending you virtual hugs
    M x

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    1. Hey lovely lady (I PM'd you on Twitter, not sure if you got it?). Thank you for your lovely comment(s). I hope you are ok. Virtual hugs right back at you xx

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  4. I like your brain trickery.I could definitely do with some of that myself on my grumpy low days! Great post mrs xx

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