Today I was going to share another blog post with you, but I realised that this post was far more important, and very necessary.
I know that a lot of my followers suffer from mental illnesses – anxiety, depression, OCD, to name but a few, like myself, and to go through any or all of these is extremely destabilising, and difficult to go through.
Mental illness claims lives – literally in the form of suicide, and also in the way that it changes you, as a person, and it changes your life.
Anxiety and depression gripped my life in a metal bind for so long, one that I couldn’t get out of. I was stuck in a vice that wouldn’t let me go, one of fear, and panic, one that made me not want to leave the house, and one that still affects me now.
My struggle with my mental health made me a shadow. I remember agreeing to go to Pizza Express with my friend one Saturday afternoon, and it was one of the biggest struggles of my life. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to be seen, I didn’t want to go outside.
To me, staying at home was a safe haven. No one could harm me. It was my first time putting makeup on in a long time, and it was minimal.
I’ve been a makeup junkie for as long as I can remember, but when my anxiety took full force, I stopped wearing it. I wanted to be invisible, I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. My hair was bundled on top of my head every single day, even when I remembered to wash it, which turned out to be rarely.
I wasn’t me, and everyone knew it. I so desperately wanted to go back to myself a year ago, the person that always went out, was bubbly, and full of joy and laughter, that wore a full face of makeup because it was her passion, who dressed up, and said yes to every social invite.
I am a lot better now; not cured, by any means, and I have bouts where my anxiety is as bad as it was back then, which is actually what I’m going through right now and what probably spurred me to write this, but things have improved, and that’s why I wanted to share my advice on how to claim back your life and your happiness.
1) Talk – Whether it’s to a friend, a family member, or a therapist, you need to talk to someone. Don’t bottle it up. Don’t just experience this battle by yourself, you need to let it out and talk to someone about your struggles. I promise you that you’ll feel better.
2) Get The Help You Need – It took me nearly 6 years to get any help for my anxiety. I had a single session of counselling after I was attacked when I was 14, that was not requested by me, but shoved onto me by my useless secondary school, and involved the counsellor making me recount the attack which I really didn’t want to. Instead, I bottled it all up, and it grew and grew and grew until it pretty much swallowed me whole.
Don’t be like me. Don’t take over half a decade to get help. It eats you up inside, and the more you try and push it down, the worse it will be when it eventually does explode, which it will. Speak to your doctor, research, speak to people who have also suffered with mental illness. Get. Help.
3) Realise You’re Not Alone – When I went to my first therapy session, and when I first started taking my antidepressants, I thought I was a freak. There is still such a stigma around mental health, and I was ashamed and embarrassed that my brain wasn’t working how it should. I was comforted in the knowledge that there have been millions before me, and there will be millions to come, that will have mental health troubles, and that’s okay.
4) Indulge In The Small Things – When my anxiety was at it worst, and every single weekend was spent lying in bed, I did small things that I knew would make me feel the tiniest bit better. I watched my favourite comedy films, that I had seen a thousand times before, but they made me happy, and they made me laugh. I ordered pizza, I did face masks, I watched endless episodes of Michael McIntyre Comedy Roadshow. They didn’t fix the underlying issue, but they made me feel better, if only for an evening, or a few hours, and that was what mattered.
5) Accept That People Won’t Understand – Not everyone will understand what you’re going through, and you need to understand that in order to claim back your life from mental illness. Depressed people get called selfish, anxiety sufferers get called hypochondriacs and pretty much all mental health sufferers will get told that ‘they seem fine to me’ or get told another undermining phrase that makes them feel shit about themselves and what they’re going through. A lot of the time, people don’t mean to offend you, they just don’t get it. And that is okay, because they don’t need to. This is your battle, and those closest to you will do their best to support you even if they don’t understand.
6) Understand That It Gets Better – My parents told me that it would get better, and that I’d be happy again, and I didn’t believe them. I was stuck in a cloud of misery and didn’t understand how I could ever feel better. I couldn’t see my life past the miserable day I was currently in, and I didn’t want to. I couldn’t bear the thought of experiencing this pain every single day.
But the beauty is that it does get better, whether or not you believe it, and however long it takes, it does get better, you just need to not be so hard on yourself.
You will have awful days, you’ll have brilliant days, and you’ll have every single day in between. But this struggle will make you stronger, and it will make you better, believe me.
All my love BGP xx