A few simple tips for those new to mental illness

A few simple tips for those new to mental illness

I wrote the following post on a brilliant forum I use called http://www.patient.info and felt that I would share it here as well, I hope you find it helpful

David

Since joining this site I have had the privilege of reading so many posts that people have written opening themselves up and discussing their illness often in the hope of receiving support or answer. I must admit that I have been surprised by the diversity, people of all ages and from so many backgrounds but all sharing that common bond that unites us all, mental illness.

for those that find this site looking for help and support if offer the following few tips:

1) speak to your GP about your feelings, they will be understanding and can point you in the right direction. It will also help you start to unburden your self as just knowing you have spoken to someone will help. Remember doctors are used to hearing stories like yours so while it may be difficult try to open up. It will also get you into ‘the system’ mental illness can be a long journey so the sooner you get medical help the sooner the ball can start rolling, remember the NHS is over stretched and waiting lists can be long so don’t expect to be cured in a week.
2) your doctor may prescribe you medication, most likely an anti-depressant from the SSRI group. These are common for anxiety and depression. These medications can take several weeks to take effect and I do mean 2-8 weeks so don’t expect to pop one in your mouth and the world to become all sunshine and smiles. In fact you will most likely feel worse, while the good effect of the medication takes time the side effects don’t hang about and many, many people quite taking them after only a few days because of the way they make them feel. Most people are used to taking paracetamol where one minute they are in pain, pop a pill and half hour later no pain. But these medications do work and also remember they are often prescribed on the information given, the more honest you are the more information your GP has to get you on the right medication. In time your medication may change and SSRI are upped every few weeks to get you on the right dose, so please don’t think that if your given 20mg you can just pop 60mg to spread things up, you will not help yourself one bit.
3) so your already feeling like hell and your going to take medication likely to make you feel worse, painting a lovely picture am I not. But all is not lost and here is where forums such as this come in. Reaching out and asking questions, telling your story or just venting are what this site is here for. Everyone has suffered here in some way and understand, they may not be able to offer you medical help like the doctors but they can give something as great as medicine, support and love, understanding and friendship. It also gives you the opportunity to give support to others which can be very therapeutic .
4) self-help, that’s right you are on a journey, you have to walk it. If you can’t be bothered you will sit where you are and will not progress, in fact you will just get worse. So get your boots on and help yourself, relaxation techniques, meditation, mindfulness, yoga and exercise will help you so very much. CBT, self-hypnosis and goal setting are also great tools. Writing a journal or diary will allow you to get your feelings out and once on the page they are released but serve as a reminder to you in time to come. It will also help you when it comes to knowing what are your root causes (often you will see patterns in your writing they can give you something to talk to your GP about.
5) friends and family, many of us hide our problems especially from them, and the thought of telling them that you think your losing your mind is never pleasant but you will need their support and even if they don’t understand, they will still know that your actions are no just you being selfish or moody but the result of your condition.
6) don’t you dare feel shame, if you had diabetes you sure as hell wouldn’t so don’t dare think that because your problem is in your mind it’s a bad thing. The brain is the most complex part of the body and still not truly understood so just because your illness is not visible does not make it any less worthy. One of the biggest problems facing mental health care is ignorance and we must not add to this by staying quiet.
7) finally and most importantly of all you must stay strong, eat, exercise, and find your inner strength, it is there trust me. We only get one life and our illness often makes it hard to smile but smile we must, each step on the road may not be easy but each and every one is important so we must try to hold our spirits high and believe in ourselves.

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