This post is seemingly directed at those living with some kind of mental illness, however can be used to maintain good mental health no matter who you are and what your circumstances. Tackling complex thoughts and emotions is difficult and often takes lots of different methods of support or self-help to actually make a difference. Think of it as a tool box, and at different times of your life you will take out different tools to find a ‘fix’. Not one person’s brain is wired the same way, not one person has had the same experiences and not one person can ever truly understand the way someone else feels- despite how much we might want to. I can’t talk on behalf of everyone, but here is my personal mental health toolbox.
Only a few weeks until the man in the red suit will be climbing down our chimneys and sprinkling festive cheer into our lives! Christmas is such a happy, joyous time where family and friends get together to celebrate- but what happens if you have no family? What happens if you have no friends? Without intention we can often make those struggling with isolation feel even more lonely as they see our smiling faces and hear our continuous laughter. I can only imagine how difficult the festive period would be without someone special to share it with.
I’m almost sure you will have seen the semi-colon symbol somewhere on social media. Jewellery, drawings and even tattoos. So, if you don’t already know, this is what it’s all about…
Project Semi-Colon was founded in 2013 by a lady named Amy Bleuel. Unfortunately she had personal experiences of bullying, suicide, self-harm, addiction, abuse and rape- but was extremely empowered to use her strength and courage to make a difference to other people. She did this by the creation of ‘Project Semi-Colon’. This non-profit organisation has dedicated time and effort into suicide prevention through public awareness and education. Increasing knowledge and understanding makes people aware that everyone has a role to play when it comes to suicide prevention and supporting those experiencing a mental illness.
Uh-oh! She wants to talk about mental health again. Well, why shouldn’t we? I hate that a stigma remains in society surrounding the topic of ‘mental health’. Lack of knowledge and understanding has lead to the mumbling of uneducated voices when they see or hear about something unfamiliar to them. We are all different, have different beliefs & tolerate life stressors in different ways- so who is to say what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘abnormal’? Mental health isn’t something to ignore, it’s something to embrace.
With the party season upon us, starting with Halloween (HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE), we have high expectations for the coming celebrations. Over the past weeks Instagram has been exploding with photographs of Halloween costumes and evidence of some very messy nights on the town. Soon we will hear the roar of fireworks as we celebrate Bonfire Night and then, quick as a flash, Santa Claus will be putting presents under our trees before singing Auld Lang Syne and welcoming in 2018. For many, including myself, these events bring excitement for months on end. We look forward to the family coming together and eating our body weight in delicious home-cooked food. All of this however does not stop the psychological alarm bells that, for many, come hand-in-hand with these joyous occasions.
Ok, so we’ve all experienced mental health stigma to a lesser or greater extent. This post isn’t just about the opinions of those with official diagnosis’, although that’s extremely important too, but about the stigma we face regarding our mental health every single day. Sometimes responding with “I’m fine” seems like the easiest option- but why is that? Why should we feel ashamed to admit that we are stressed, upset or panicking? These are the same emotions that every single individual will experience throughout their lives, what differs is our ability to manage them. Some people pre-occupy their minds by going out with their friends or exercising, some people talk to their close friends about their inner struggles, but some people need additional support to manage these intense feelings. In the same way that people with physical disabilities or injuries use aids and medication to support them throughout daily activities, others use medication and therapies to manage mental health issues. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Studying Mental Health Nursing I have heard a lot about the importance of ‘sleep hygiene’ and how a good nights sleep can create such a positive difference to your day. Although ‘sleep hygiene’ sounds really clinical and boring– it’s basically how to get the most from your sleep and achieve ultimate alertness throughout the day. Easier said than done though, right?
Body confidence is a major component of self-esteem. It involves the way you consider your aesthetics and the physical aspects of ‘you’. It’s no surprise with the constant lifestyle and beauty expectations that the majority of young women would change something about their body or appearance if they had the opportunity- myself included. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, but I can’t help but wonder the affects it has on people younger than myself- due to the drastic affect it has had on me. I’d consider myself relatively independent and educated regarding these issues- but what happens when people are more vulnerable?
The dreaded words- ‘MENTAL HEALTH’. It’s simple, you either understand or you don’t. I think many would be surprised at the daily struggles that many of us actually go through- obviously, to different extents. People usually describe this term with a long-list of illnesses that sound big and scary if you haven’t experienced or witnessed them first hand- depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety, bulimia, anorexia. Correct- those diagnosis’ are within the ginormous umbrella of ‘mental health’- but so are stress, nerves, agitation and insomnia. How many of you can say you have never felt those emotions? (Which are completely NATURAL and INNATE tendencies may I add.) We see it campaigned all over social media, in the news and even in political debates and manifestos. It is now common knowledge that we all have mental health and it is important to care for it- with equal passion many have when working out every day- although this sometimes gets pushed to one side whilst juggling the one-million-and-one things we know we need to do (and have probably already put off for at least a week!).