Being a Bad Bitch with Mental Health Issues
How to Get on with Your Life Whilst Fighting Yourself
Depression is something I've struggled with for a long time. I've been to many different therapists since I was 13, and I now take anti-depressants to help me cope. Some days are a real struggle to find joy in anything, to even get up out of bed. Some days are amazing and I feel like the most bitchin' power women out there.
Since moving to university, and starting a life in a brand new city all by myself, things have changed a lot. I really struggled with feeling lonely and nervous about my future. It's a huge thing moving to a city when you're used to miles of fields and forests, and swapping my beloved nature for huge skyscrapers definitely effected me.
It's been a tough few months, full of tears and apprehension but also a lot of positivity. I'm finally doing what I've always wanted to do, and although it scares the hell out of me, I know that I am on the right path concerning my career. Slowly everything has started to fall into place and I know longer feel like a nervous mess 24/7. After one of the worst relapses I've had in a while, I'm learning once again how to cope with depression in this majorly different environment.
However, I still have days when the last thing I want to do is open my eyes, let alone get out of bed and go to meetings and lectures. And it is not laziness, I wish I was just lazy—that would be much better. It's hard to explain, but it's a gut-wrenching, sinking feeling that just leaves you in despair. Dramatic I know, but also very real.
I am still learning on how to deal with everything but here are a few things I've discovered that will hopefully help you be a bitchin' boss at whatever you do.
1. Self-Pep Talks
Talk to yourself every morning. It sounds crazy but come on, we all talk to ourselves sometimes. Tell yourself over and over that today will be ok and more importantly, YOU will be ok. You will get through this day as best you can and accomplish as much as you can. If you really don't like the idea of talking to yourself, you could try writing it down instead to keep in your pocket for whenever you might need a little boost.
2. Follow your gut, but be clever about it.
Following your gut feeling is a brilliant way to live, but sometimes the chemical imbalance in our brain can sway that gut feeling and makes us not want to do something that could be really amazing for us. If you really don't want to go out and deal with the world, give yourself a break and try again when you are ready. But, don't spend your life waiting for yourself to be ready—sometimes you have to just jump in head first, no matter how painful or scary it might be. From experience I know that this can lead to some amazing experiences. Try and always give things a go, and if you really hate it, you can always back out.
3. Give yourself time.
This is something I really struggle with. I want things now and I panic if they don't happen straight away. For example, when I first moved to uni I had no friends at all. I knew no one! Freshers was too daunting for me and I am not living in halls so I miss out on a lot of social aspects. I've also always been someone who has a lot of friends, drifting between groups that I grew up with, and had loads of friends for the whole of my high school and college life. I've also always been known as the slightly crazy and loud one. But now I'm on my own, and don't know many people where I live, I've become a lot more quiet, and find it hard to talk to new people. I was devastated when I still didn't know anyone at the end of my first week. But slowly I've made one or two friends, who are slowly but naturally becoming really good friends. And I know I always have the love and support of my amazing friends back home, and I also know, or at least am learning to know, that I don't need to have a million friends, it's more than ok to have only a few. So give yourself time and a lot of patience. It can be infuriating living with a mental illness, but with enough time and patience, as well as hard-work, you will get better and better at coping.
4. Take every opportunity you get.
And I'm not just talking career or education wise. Take opportunities to try new things. Go to a new pub or bar. Try a weird cocktail you've never had before. Go see a band you only found out about 10 minutes ago. Have fun and laugh with strangers. Dress how you want to, cover yourself in tattoos or wear that bright pink fur coat. Do what you want, just don't hurt anyone or yourself. On another note (that's probably enough of the Trainspotting-esque dialogue) take every chance you can to achieve your own goals. If you want something enough, it will feel natural to put in a lot of hard work, so grab those opportunities and make something of yourself.
5. Ask for help.
Being independent is all well and good, but sometimes some help does you a world of good. Help can come in so many different forms, whether it be therapy sessions, talking to your doctor or even just spending time with loved ones. It's more than ok to tell someone that your struggling to cope. Therapy and counselling has been a major help in my life, I've had a number of different therapists since I was in high school. Some I really didn't get on with, which is not unusual, you can't expect to like everyone—especially when it comes down to the sensitive subject of mental health. It can be really hard when you don't like your therapist, as trying new therapists is a long process of having to get to know each other and explain your issues over and over again, which is really daunting and to be honest, just down right boring. However, you will find someone who you click with and who has something worthwhile to say to you. Therapy is an amazing tool for off-loading your problems without any judgement. Sure, some people can talk to their friends or family about anything and have no need for a therapist, but personally I like the fact that therapists have no prejudgments of your character or behavior, as well as being a completely confidential space.
6. Spend time with friends and family.
If you can, spend time with loved ones on a regular basis. Personally I tend to isolate myself a lot when I'm not feeling 10/10. I like to just draw the curtains, climb into bed and stare at the ceiling. But if you can force yourself to just go round to your friend's place just to binge watch Netflix or go out on a dog walk with your mum, you will usually feel at least a bit better. Getting yourself moving, or a change of scenery, is great for keeping your mind occupied instead of dwelling on how awful you feel. BUT, if you simply cannot face doing anything, don't be harsh on yourself. As I pointed out before, giving yourself time is essential. If you really can't do it, then try again tomorrow and the day after that.
7. Never undermine your accomplishments.
Some days just having a shower and making a cup of tea feels as difficult as climbing Ben Nevis, so it's essential to understand that your goals for the day or week or month don't have to be ridiculously big, they could be as simple as I will go for a walk today or I will go shopping today and that's ok. I believe there is too much pressure on young people to become successful and accomplish all your dreams by the time your 25, otherwise you will be destined to live a fairly mediocre life. Try to ignore this pressure as in reality, 25 is still extremely young and a lot of people don't know what they're really doing well past 25. We're all just trying to be happy and live our lives, so just go at your own pace.
So, those are just a few tips I can offer. As I say, I'm still learning myself and I don't claim to be any sort of professional but I do know exactly what it's like to live with mental illness' and how difficult they can make life. But, it doesn't have to be that way—by doing just a few simple things you'll start to notice it getting better.