I just realised that today is World Mental Health Day and it got me thinking. Do you think we dismiss mental health too easily? I guess we are getting better at it, but the stigma persists for many. I know that I never afford myself the same treatment and care when I am feeling stressed out and depressed that I do if I am stuck in bed with a head cold or a bug. I expect myself to just get on with it. Keep going. Expectations are there to be met, and I refuse to allow 'feeling down' to stop me meeting them.
At the same time, when it comes to friends who are feeling depressed or who are battling a variety of anxieties and mental illnesses I am a vocal campaigner for self care and time out. I insist they take the time to address their needs better, I recommend books, doctors, the notion of medication as necessary the same as it is for any other illness.
I have suffered anxiety and depression on and off for years. It's mostly in control, but I don't think it's something that will ever be cured for good. It's just something I manage now with medication, books, and breathing exercises, along with natural alternatives like exercise and sunshine. Some days I just don't want to get up. Some days I just don't want to put on a mask and say all is dandy fine. Some days I want to say I am not okay. I am finding that easier to do. I am finding people quicker to accept and help. Maybe that stigma is fading after all.
I love this idea of developing a Wellness Toolbox. Having some tried and true tools on hand that you know will help, even a little, is a great idea.
Develop a wellness toolbox
Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. Include any strategies, activities, or skills that have helped in the past. The more “tools” for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good.
Spend some time in nature
List what you like about yourself
Read a good book
Watch a funny movie or TV show
Take a long, hot bath
Take care of a few small tasks
Play with a pet
Write in your journal
Listen to music
Do something spontaneous
For me, it all comes back to self talk. Challenging my 'what if's' and negative attitudes. It can be exhausting, but it also helps to remind myself that everything comes back to two emotions: love and fear. Finding the fear in the emotions helps me find a way to address it practically, whether it is entirely rational or not. I think it's also important to be kind to yourself, and remind yourself it's okay to struggle sometimes, it will pass, and hug your inner you. Go easy. Remind yourself that this isn't just you having a bad day and you should just get on with it - mental health is a serious health issue and shouldn't be easily dismissed. You'd rug up and get some rest were it a cold, so do the equivalent for depression. No cop outs, no fobbing it off. Accept it, love yourself, and find what helps bring you back - however long it may take.
Furthermore, you're never alone. Friends, family, health professionals, help phone lines, even social media can be invaluable on 'black days'. Make use of it. You're worth the effort.
Need urgent help?
If you or someone you know is at risk of harming themselves or someone else it is important you get help immediately. You can take the first step in doing this by:
Speaking to your doctor (GP or psychiatrist)
Calling the Psychiatric Team at your nearest hospital
Calling Lifeline 13 11 14 or Suicide Helpline (Victoria only) 1300 651 251
If the person is threatening to harm you call the police on 000 (triple zero).
Some tips for getting urgent help include:
Express the urgency of the matter without becoming aggressive
Give the health professional specific examples of concerns
Give a brief history of self harm or harm to others
Ensure that you listen to their advice
If they are unable to help, ask them why and who you should contact
Lifeline 13 11 14