A piece of advise for those suffering with mental illness
It's Mental Health Awareness Week - although if you looked purely at the statistics, you wouldn't guess that this is an issue we need to raise awareness of at all.
It seems crazy that such a prevalent thing is often still swept under the rug and not spoken about, although it's easy to see the reason why; there is still a huge stigma attached to mental illness. Despite one in four suffering from one, a fifth believe that "one of the main causes of mental illness a lack of self-discipline and willpower".
Changing negative attitudes towards mental health is a topic close to my heart, having suffered with anxiety and depression myself (not to mention the friends and family who have also experienced mental illness). So I wanted to share some advice that has really helped me, and might also help you.
Although it might seem glaringly obvious, the tip I want to pass on is to treat yourself how you'd treat your friends.
Especially with conditions like anxiety and depression, your head can be filled with that negative voice telling you that you're not good enough. I remember hating myself for feeling so low when I didn't really have anything to be sad about. I had great friends, a wonderful family, and excellent grades at a prestigious university. On paper I should be happy. I felt so intensely guilty that people far worse off than me could manage to remain happy and strong, when I could barely get out of bed for crying for absolutely no reason. I felt selfish, and weak, and stupid. It made me hate myself even more.
Of course not. I'd be filled with compassion and understanding, and tell them that feeling like that is part of the illness. I'd do everything I could to help them get back on their feet, and feeling like themselves again. It's at that point that my councillor told me, "If that's how you'd treat a friend, you should be treating yourself that way too".
It's definitely easier said than done, but I can honestly say that it has helped me massively. It can be as simple as correcting a critical thought, or it can be extended to taking the time to do things that you enjoy (more on that in my next blog post). For me at least, it brings me back to reality when I'm getting lost in a head full of worries and negative emotions. It forces me to get some perspective, and reminds me that I'm only human, and perfectly imperfect like everyone else that I love.
I hope that maybe you'll find this advise useful, but I'd love to hear about your experiences and any advise that has helped you cope with mental illness. Drop us a comment so we can raise awareness about this issue that effects so many of us.