Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year .
In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week .
I don’t know about you but I think that those statistics are mind boggling. I have had mental health issues and I never knew so many other people also did. At my lowest I felt like I was the only person in the world to go through anxiety and depression. But times are changing and the amount of material available to help people is growing.
With so many people experiencing mental health issues there are also many ways of harnessing you mental health. With so many to choose from it is hard to know which one is best. My advice is to go with the method of try before you buy after all there is method in the madness. Not all methods will work for you and some will. I also found that a multi-pronged method helps the best.
I would recommend covering the basics to see if they work for you before you turn to stronger methods such as medication. I would say the basics are;
- Sleep 7+ hours at night
- Drink 2 litres of water a day
- Eat a balanced diet
- Avoid alcohol
- No phone in bed
For me, medication, counselling and routine helped me. I do not advice using one method to deal with your mental health issues; it’s like having an operation to fix a broken bone and then not wearing a cast. Finally for any of the methods to work you need to give it time – around six weeks.
For most the first method is medication. I, myself have been on medication and I have no shame is telling you so. At the time I needed it, my brain had started to work in a way I couldn’t understand or control. I had a chemical imbalance in my brain that could be reset by medication. Medication for mental health is no easy option I tell you. It takes times for it to work, you have to work out the right dosage and it comes with a lot of side effects. I talk more about my experience with medication here. Medication is not for everyone but in some cases it is needed. By taking medication it meant that I was stopping the symptoms of my mental health issues which then allowed me to deal with the cause of my mental health issues.
To deal with the cause of my mental health issues I started counselling. It was one of the best relationships I have ever had with a person. When speaking about my thoughts with family or friends I always felt bad to burden them with my problems and worried how it would effect them. With a counsellor you can tell them all of your worries and not have to worry about how they are feeling or ask how they are. It is a completely selfish relationship and it works wonders. It is key to find a counsellor that you can trust and get on with. If you don’t click with your first counsellor don’t give up, ask for a different one. Counselling helped me majorly and I still use the things I learnt in those session. Having counselling does not make you weak it shows you understand a part of you needs to be built back up again. I couldn’t recommend counselling more and your mental health issues won’t improve unless you talk about them – TRUTH. I talk more about my experience of counselling here.
Once I had worked through the cause of my depression and anxiety, still on medication, I wanted to take my life back. I can’t control my mental health but I can put elements in place to harness it to allow me to live my life. I harness my mental health through routine. Having a job has helped me no end, it structures my whole week. It forces me to eat, sleep and exercise at set times. Our whole young lives we have a School timetable so why change when you are an adult. Start with planning your day, then a week and throw in some nice monthly/yearly goals to keep you on track. I reached a point where I no longer felt I needed to be on medication due to the routine I had set up. After all there is method in the madness.
Along with having a routine I often try to do things in balance. Getting the right balance between looking after my body and mind and going out isn’t easy. But is something you have to learn to do if you want to live with mental health issues.
The whole process of taking my life back has taken over three years to get through. It wasn’t easy, I still have down days but it was totally worth it. Time really does heal but only if you use that time effectively.
It is safe to say I learnt how to do life the hard way and I am still learning. I intend to share my experiences to hopefully help break the stigma surrounding mental health and help someone who feels alone.
Disclosure: this is my own experience with medication and not medical advice in anyway. If you are thinking about using medication speak to your GP or a professional.