As someone who has suffered with mental health issues throughout my entire teenage years, through school and through the first few years of my work life, I am thrilled to see the stigma slowly die away and people are now treating mental health issues and illnesses the same as physical illness.
Let me ask you this…
If you broke your leg and had to use crutches for a few weeks, would you want special treatment from everyone around you? If you sprained your wrist, would you want people treating you different? Or would you want people to show compassion, a helping and here and there but most importantly, the independence to do what you can?
In 2018, I broke my foot, bashed up both wrists, my knee, my shoulder, ankles, had x3 concussions, sprained my toes, you name it!! Last year was so hard for my physical health. The big thing for me was that I didn’t want people saying “Aww poor Charles, I feel so bad for him” or people talking behind my back and saying “Be careful, he has had a lot of injuries, we need to treat him differently”. I WANTED TO BE TREATED THE SAME AS WHAT I WAS EVERY OTHER DAY!!
The only difference was SHOW A BIT COMPASSION! When someone has an injury (especially if you are an active person) it is a horrible thing to take the piss out of that injury or make them feel bad about it, but by treating them vastly different can seem annoying and perhaps even false.
The same thing when I had massive mental illness (insomnia, depression, anxiety toppled by having ADHD) I didn’t want people to treat me like a freak or someone who was broken, but people who could be there for me to talk to me, go to the gym with me or recommend me things that COULD help.
So, my point around this is…
So my point around this is not that I am a savage and I think everyone needs to grow up and get their s*** together (although some people seriously do need to) but it is to look at physical health and mental health in the same bracket, treat people with respect and compassion. With the stigma slowly dying now and people understanding this topic in more detail, let’s start getting more comfortable with talking about this and let’s work together to see what solutions help certain people.
But why do people think mental health is so different?
The simple answer to that is that you cannot see if someone is depressed with an x ray machine. You cannot put someone in an MRI and say, “Yep you have anxiety unfortunately”. And if someone has something like ADHD (Me) it can be frustrating for others because they don’t know what that is like… They can imagine breaking an arm or spraining an ankle but the thought of having random mood swings and bursts of energy seems like some BS you would make up.
Besides raising awareness, what SOLUTIONS can I suggest for people dealing with depression, anxiety and any other form of mental illness?
- Talk to people in your close circle about what you are feeling, what is making you feel like that and try to explain why you are feeling like that.
- Put together an exercise regime that both EXCITES you and PUSHES you. When you exercise, you release happy chemicals, your mind is too busy to focus on anxious or depressing thoughts and having something you are improving on outside of work that is also keeping your body healthy will cause you to have a much better mental health state. I used to HATE the gym and lifting weights bored the hell out of me, I found a specific form of rigorous exercise that actually excites me, and I have never been healthier and happier.
- Put together a breathwork/meditation practice is one of the most powerful things I have done, and I have noticed when my brain goes into anxious thinking and depressive thinking. Download headspace, calm, go on YouTube and search guided Wim Hof breathing and I suggest buying a book called “Stress less and accomplish more – By Emily Fletcher”. By learning about Mindfulness, Meditation and Manifestation, you can learn from your past, control the present and plan your future.
- STOP EATING S***. When you have KFC and drink cola every day, both your body and mind will deplete, and you WILL feel a lot worse. Healthy eating is bloody easy, if you want it to be.
- Finally, work on your mindset. Get out of your comfort zone by listening to a podcast about how to strengthen the mind, how to be more mindful, pick up a book, attend a course, go on a retreat but most importantly, build a habit of GROWTH. Top tip read “MINDSET – By Carol Dweck” as that mindset has really helped me shift my thoughts from being a victim of mental illness, to owning it, using it and pushing forward.