Hello everybody! Today I’m discussing ten valuable lessons that my mental illness has taught me, as an eighteen year old.
Most often, mental illness is portrayed as limiting and has negative connotations. The positive lessons it holds are usually brushed underneath the carpet, which is why I want to create a change in viewpoints and shine a light on some of the things that I wouldn’t know, if it wasn’t for depression.
1. To appreciate the positives
The low points in your life can help you to appreciate and strive towards creating positive days. If everything was always perfect then we wouldn’t grow or be motivated to make changes which better ourselves. So when those positive days come around, take a moment to be thankful that you have them, and the things or people which make your day wonderful. Acknowledging these factors means that they can be used as a reminder of what you are working towards, whether that’s happiness, recovery or discharge from mental health services…
2. To empathise with people
Mind, the mental health charity, states that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Additionally, the latest survey reporting figures of different types of mental health problems shows that:
5.9 in 100 people have Generalised Anxiety Disorder
3.3 in 100 people have Depression
2.4 in 100 people have Phobias
1.3 in 100 people have OCD
0.6 in 100 people have Panic Disorder
4.4 in 100 people have PTSD
Having empathy means that you are able to understand how another person is feeling; because of your own experiences. A personal example of empathy is when my best friend mistreated me for sending her help, as she attempted to take her life. Due to my experience with depression, I remember hurting those I love, due to the lack of control that I had over my mind. I received forgiveness from my loved ones, and in turn I understood that she was in a lot of pain, and forgave her.
It is extremely likely that someone you know is suffering with a mental illness. Being empathetic to the pain of other people can help them to feel less alone.
3. To be present
Having a mental illness has taught me to stay grounded, rather than drifting away with negative thoughts. Being present means that you are fully aware of the moment you are in, not allowing yourself to think about the past or future. When you notice that you have unconsciously followed a thought, you bring yourself to the present again. This technique helps to reduce anxieties and gives individuals a sense of control. A very popular grounding technique involves using the senses:
Naming five things you can see
Four things you can hear
Three things you can feel
Two things you can smell
One thing you can taste
4. To let myself have bad days
Beating yourself up for not feeling your best is counter-productive. It won’t help to set yourself up for a better day tomorrow. I have learned that having a bad day isn’t the end of the world. It is an investment into your wellbeing, because having some time out means that you can dedicate time to yourself, recharge and let out the negative emotions which have been building up inside.
5. The people that work in this sector have and will continue to change lives
I have met so many incredible people on my mental health journey. Professionals in this field such as psychologists; psychiatrists; nurses; support workers; therapists and health care assistants work tirelessly to help individuals during their recovery from mental illness.
6. How to help others suffering
Due to my experiences with mental illness, I am able to help other people because I know that having a strong support network can make a large difference to how you are feeling. Please let me know if you would like an entire blog post dedicated to this!
Mental illnesses can make daily activities extremely difficult to face, therefore having somebody to help you can make life feel less overwhelming. For instance, having a clean and tidy living space can reduce levels of stress and motivate you to get out of bed, rather than sleeping to escape from it. This isn’t something which individuals may explicitly ask for help with, but it is something which can make the world of difference to sufferers of mental illness.
7. Your feelings will pass
Feelings are temporary and even the most stressful and overwhelming emotions won’t last forever. It’s important to remind yourself that ‘this will pass’. Allow yourself to express how you’re feeling, rather than keeping it bottled up inside. Stopping yourself from feeling sad means that you are also stopping yourself from feeling happy. It leaves no room for anything other than numbness, and prolongs your negative feelings.
8. The importance of self care
Self care is extremely underrated. By taking some time out of your day to look after yourself, you can create a state of calm, and tap into your rational mind. Having a positive relationship with yourself will reflect in multiple areas of your life. It can increase your self-confidence, productivity levels and improve your relationships with other people. Everything is based on your relationship with yourself, and once you start being kinder to yourself, your life will begin to change for the better.
I have written a blog post about creating a self-soothe box, which you can read here.
9. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate
I’m going to write this statistic again. 1 in four people in the UK suffer with their mental health every year. It can affect anyone, irrespective of money, status and fame. It is really upsetting to see so much stigma, especially towards males, around having a mental illness. Anybody could suffer from a mental illness; resulting from a predisposition, traumatic experience, bullying… and anybody should be able to seek out help without receiving abuse or being discriminated against. I desperately want to live in a world where mental health stigma is stamped out, and mental health conditions are accepted just as much as physical health conditions are.
10. Not everybody will understand and that’s okay
We live in a world where the majority of people in older generations will not understand mental illness, at all. In the past, mental health wasn’t discussed as openly as it is today, which means that individuals are likely to dismiss and ignore the extent of your condition. Being around these people can be extremely difficult because you are made to feel like nothing is wrong, when in reality you’re fighting for your life. You don’t need to make these people understand your journey. Live your life for you, not anybody else and you will be so much more happier.
If you have gotten this far, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. Let me know in the comments how having a mental illness has positively affected your life!
Love Casey x
Below are links to websites that can support you if you are suffering from a mental illness.
116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)