“The weight of the world was on my shoulders and I couldn’t see a way out”
How many other people feel like this but say nothing?
It saddens me. And so, this week, to raise awareness of mental health and the help available, I am putting myself out there… Not an easy task so please be gentle.
My journey started after a particularly stressful week at work. My mum had recently passed away and I realised that the combination of work and the trauma of losing my mum had left me not coping at all. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I couldn’t see a way out.
It took a lot, but I managed to speak to a friend who I trusted not to judge me, and importantly they knew about the ins and outs of counselling. They told me about the process of getting in touch with therapists via the Counselling Directory and it gave me a starting point to explore options and contact people for support. Just the mere act of reaching out to these people, saying that I needed help and doing something positive for myself was huge.
The advice my friend stressed (which I have also passed on) is to not be afraid to explore different avenues if you find one option isn’t working for you. In the instance of therapists, only to proceed with someone if you feel the connection is right for you. It’s often the case that the first meeting with a therapist is free of charge and set up so that you can make a decision on if it feels right for you. It’s incredibly important as it’s this person you’re about to share your inner most thoughts and experiences with on a weekly basis and so you need to feel comfortable doing so.
One thing I truly have learnt is to not undervalue what your own mental health means to you, and the impact it can have on all aspects of your personal and professional life. When I look back, I realise that in the months preceding my decision to seek help, a talk from the charity Mind that had been arranged at work gave me the insight to realise where I was on the mental health spectrum.
Take the time to investigate the spectrum of mental health and where you fit within that and remember everyone’s experience of mental health is different. Don’t underestimate your feelings and the impact they may be having on you. But ultimately, it has to be up to you to feel that it’s the right thing to do to seek help. You have to be ready.
On a day-to-day basis, I’d say just try and find avenues and places to talk openly about your feelings, which I appreciate is easier said than done. Sometimes all we need is to feel like we are being listened to and to have the opportunity to share what we’re feeling.
I can imagine that it’s especially prevalent at the moment when we are all in lockdown. If you can, try to have a chat on zoom or over the phone with people you know won’t judge you and you feel you can talk openly with.
The other simple thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. I know that even now if I spend too long with my own thoughts, my mind can wander and start creating negativity. So try to do those little things across the day that allow you to give yourself a pat on the back. Whether that’s as simple as tidying your house and making your bed or running 10k. They all help!
The main thing that years of counselling has taught me is to recognise where I am personally with my mental health and gave me some tools to manage the situation when times get tough. That said, I still have times when I’m not doing great but the mere fact of recognising it and processing those thoughts is a major help.
It’s also helped me recognise when other people might be experiencing similar feelings and to not feel awkward in openly asking them about how they are. I’m always conscious that asking and showing them that I am here to listen might be the only small push they need to help them start their own journey in whatever guise that takes.
Here are some resources which may be helpful to explore if you’re struggling…
The Counselling Directory – As mentioned, the counselling directory is a website where you are able to search for Counsellors in your area and book one-on-one sessions as well as remote sessions via phone or online. You’re able to visit counsellor profiles and find one based on their experience. Aside from bridging the gap between counsellor and client, the counselling directory also offers a range of online support including blogs and personal stories.
Mental health support apps – Apps are a convenient way to help manage your mental health and access support directly from your device. Here are some apps you may want to take a look at:
Moodfit– “Tools and insight to shape up your mood” The app enables you to track your mood, gain insights into patterns/triggers, dispute distorted thoughts with CBT techniques and more. Check it out.
Headspace– “Mindfulness for everyone” a realm of resources from practicing meditation for stress relief, managing anxiety and quality of sleep. Click here.
Moodmission– An evidence-based app designed to empower you to overcome feelings of depression and anxiety by discovering new and better ways of coping. Click here.
It’s important to remember everyone’s experience is different. So, what works for someone else may not be the answer for you.
The Mind website offers pages and pages of advice and support on all things relating to Mental Health. I recommend taking a look to find out more about all the support out there.
If you have any advice or personal stories on how you have overcome a mental health challenge I’d love to hear about them. After all, I’m still constantly learning how to manage my mental health myself and any further tips would be greatly appreciated.