As it is mental health awareness week and I seem to have spent my life witnessing people around me suffering from various types of mental illness I thought I would write a little guide to looking after yourself. Think of this as your gym program for your mind.
So like all physical fitness we all have different levels of mental happiness… however unlike gym fitness the person that looks the most trim probably does go to the gym a lot and eats healthily (certainly this is the case as you get older!). However unlike physical fitness, it is not the person that looks the happiest or most in control of their life that has the best mental health. In fact these are often the people that suffer from mental health problems the most. My first experience of this was at school and the brightest, most prettiest girl didn’t make her parents aspirations to Oxford university as she was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 15. She was in a terrible state and all because of these pressures put upon her. In the 1990’s this was still a shunned illness and people did not understand why she would be so sad when she had everything going for her. My dad was also ill with mental health problems at this time and again I felt embarrassed to talk about it with my friends, as did my mum; we felt like we had failed him. Hence I started to study psychology to make sense of it all.
As an adult I watched further friends and acquaintances suffer from various illnesses, sometimes with a trigger such as a relationship breaking down or loss of a parent, but often just feeling a lack of motivation for life.
More recently a friend from school who appeared to have everything in life has taken his own life because he felt he was struggling so much day to day. Despite regular doctor visits he could not find his own happiness.
My reason for writing this is to make you lovely young people aware that mental health problems small and large will touch everyone, it is a part of life and I hope that no one experiences the severe cases I have talked about.
There are ways to prevent it becoming bad though.
- Be realistic about your goals, ask a psychology student or myself (Mrs Rogers) or Mrs Price about staying congruent.
- Make time for exercise. You will feel better afterwards, even if it’s a walk with a friend or on your own.
- Find your own chill out, yoga, music, reading, but something that makes you feel calm Do not compare yourself to others. You are your own person
- Be nice to each other, if someone looks sad ask if they are ok, or offer them a cup of tea or a biscuit.
- Finally if things are bad, do talk about it you will be surprised how many people are feeling or have felt the same way as you.