Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 - 5 Tips

It’s a short post, as I’ve had a busy few weeks and I’m currently laptop-less so attempting to blog on my phone. But, it’s a topic I feel massively pattionate about and wanted to contribute even a short paragraph to the many fabulous awareness raising things people are doing for MHAW 2018.

It’s a fact that’s constantly in the media; 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems. It’s a fact that I personally believe is actually a lot higher but due to the stigma still surrounding mental health disorders a lot of people still don’t, or can’t, talk about it. And it’s something that needs to change.

‘Mental health disorders’ can have whole variety of symptoms from anxiety to psychosis but the actions which these disorders make the person take to either numb the condition, symptoms of a flare up/attack or if the person can’t cope ranges from panic attacks to suicide. It’s a huge area.

I, for one, have started being a bit more open about my mental health in a hope that it can help others through it and I understand the challenges you face talking to people. I’ve been mentally ill for 10 years now and have had to have intensive therapy, long hospital admissions and a huge support team to keep me stable. I’m currently coming out of (touch wood) a blip which required one of the crisis home care teams to step in for a few months but every time I’m learning more about how I can deal with things myself and also how to ask for help.

So, here are my top 5 tips for if you are struggling with any mental health disorder:

1) Write a diary. The most important thing I ever did was a mood diary. I scored my mood and anxiety out of 10 each day. I also scored my pain and fatigue out of 10 to prove to the doctors it wasn’t ME related, it was a separate condition. It was so useful reflecting on and bringing to appointments - especially drawing a graph at the end of the month.

2) Notice the time of day/night you struggle and come up with plans and distractions to help you. I have major problems in the evening so I come downstairs with my family and have a tv series to watch. I have extra medication if needed to calm me and craft to keep my mind busy but relaxed.

3) Get help, and if someone won’t help you, go ask someone else. I can’t stress this enough. I became very very poorly when I didn’t get the correct psychological treatment and now if I know I’m dipping I will let every medical person know until something is done before it gets to a stage I can’t manage. If it’s a case of your GP, change. If you’re waiting for something like Talking Matters and it’s 6 months and you’re bad, go back down and sit at the doctors. See what charities like MIND are available in the area. Look at charitable mental health groups and try get a plan in place before you get to the stage of not caring.

4) Have a crisis plan. What to look out for, who to contact, what you’d want to happen and any other useful information.

5) Last, but not least, talk to someone. Friends, family, GP, Samaritans... Just talk.

And a final note, be kind. Mental health disorders are invisible and you usually have no idea how badly people may be suffering. Everyone needs a little love and support.

Kate x

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