Hi everyone, welcome to a shiny new post from Howay Man Get Happy! Let me catch you up with where I am right now. I admittedly haven’t been in a good place recently, and I have been having a lot of negative thoughts and my self-esteem has been virtually non-existent. Despite this being a difficult time for me I finally feel like I’ve got the boot up the arse I needed to sort my life out. Although it’s completely okay to feel bad every now and again, I feel like I had got into some very unhealthy habits of staying in bed all day, cutting myself off from all of my friends, drinking to excess, and essentially allowing a mental illness to take over my life. There is one important truth you have to know about mental illness and that is: when it comes to recovery, ultimately it’s up to you. It’s kind of like being cornered in the playground by a school bully, and you’ve got two options. One: you can choose to go full throttle; fly-kicking* and clawing your way to wellness – despite the fact that you might get a few knocks along the way. Or, two: you can choose to cower in the corner and let them beat you down into a sort of human paper maché. I have decided I’ve been in paper maché-mode for too long now, slopping about and feeling sorry for myself, and now it is time for me to get better.
Over the past week I’ve been trying to change my life in ways that will promote mental wellness so in this post I’ve decided to list the six different things I am trying to do to get well. I would like to add that on top of this list I am still taking my meds and pursuing over-the-phone counseling sessions but I thought it might be helpful to share these things with you guys as I believe everyone could benefit from these activities to promote their own mental wellbeing.
The first thing I did was unplug. I have decided to limit my time on social media so I got rid of all social media apps on my phone to make it more effort for me to access these sites. I tried deactivating Facebook but it wasn’t feasible because I do a lot of my work for various charities and keep in touch with potential collaborators through that medium. I also am limiting my time on Netflix as I find I use it as a form of escapism and whilst this is not a bad thing in itself it was distracting me from doing things that would be a more productive use of my time. I try to only watch TV when I’m with someone like my partner or a friend – that way it becomes a more social activity and stops the urge to binge-watch!
- No More Naps
This was a hard one – it’s no secret that depression drains you of all energy, and I have gotten a little too used to going to bed in the middle of the afternoon of late. Whilst you may feel tired, sleeping too much is only going to make you worse. I also found when I napped I was often left feeling groggy, drained and unhappy. Sleeping too much can be a symptom of depression, and around 80% of people with diagnosed depression have sleep problems of some kind. So sorting out that sleeping pattern is a must!
- Get Active
Now for anyone that knows me, it is no secret that I am the least sporty person on this earth. But for me this really works – a couple of years ago I joined a gym for my mental wellbeing and it was great but I ended up cancelling my subscription to save a bit of money. However, the gym may be expensive but it is just one of the many ways to get fit. I have decided to walk more instead of getting the bus and I go for runs around the block (although they are pathetically short at the moment because I’m still really unfit but at least I’m giving it a go!) I have also got a hold of a cheesy old work-out DVD which is actually a lot of fun to do and I’ve even managed to rope my partner into doing it with me once which resulted in a lot of laughs which was also a great mood boost. I’d totally recommend doing this with a friend if you don’t mind them seeing you getting a sweat on.
- Get Creative
When I was younger I used to quite enjoy painting and to be honest it was something I never really pursued after finishing my Art GCSE. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing Mam who is simultaneously a brilliant artist who kindly let me pinch all of
her acrylic paints. I’m not the best painter in the world but it is good to have a creative outlet for my feelings and generally just a great way to take my mind off anything that might be causing me stress. Maybe in that way being a shit artist is a blessing because I have to concentrate so hard on staying in the lines that there is no time to dwell on negative thoughts! I have also started making wool pom-poms, which is a great way to keep my hands busy. What I’m really loving about getting creative is that everything I do is my own unique creation, made from my own designs. When I finish a piece, whether its taken me two hours or two days, I get a great sense of accomplishment and that really helps with my self-esteem. I will also be endeavouring to do a lot more writing on my blog so keep your eyes peeled!
- Dry Up
I have decided to try and kick the booze, at least for a little while. Whenever I go out for a drink I always end up drinking far too much, especially if I’m not very mentally healthy at the time. After some serious self-reflection I realize I sometimes use alcohol as form of escapism and yet wake up in the morning feeling more depressed than I was the day before. The bottom line is that alcohol is a depressant and using it to make yourself feel happier is not only foolish but could also end up with serious consequences. Not to mention it’s bad for your physical health too and in most cases (certainly in mine) it turns you into a complete knob-head.
- Stay in Touch
Communication and connection with other people is a fundamental human need. I have been trying to keep in touch more with people who I find are a positive influence on me. I have been setting aside more time to spend with my partner, and I have been seeing a lot more of my parents and grandparents which I find really helps me with my mood. I am also doing a lot more volunteer work, which gets me out talking to people, and also gives me a greater sense of self-worth. I have lots of exciting new projects coming up so watch this space!
I hope you found this post helpful and maybe through reading this you’ve managed to identify some unhealthy habits in your own life that you’d like to change for the better. I’m not sure how long these changes will last for me, but by making this list I am being mindful of the things in my life that are may be distracting from my recovery and that in itself is an important step. Finally I’d like to say as a bit of advice to both myself, and my readers, let’s stop beating ourselves up about every little thing we do wrong. Yes we might drink a lot, or we might be crap at staying in touch with our friends or maybe we even forgot to feed our pet fish the other day (sorry Nicholi!) but we are all human and we are going to make mistakes. Just because we may fall into unhealthy habits or if we don’t handle things as well as other people do, that doesn’t mean we are bad people. There are no good people and bad people in the world – ultimately everyone makes mistakes and it is whether or not you decide to try to do better, get better and be better that makes all the difference. There is a common phrase often seen written over some scenic mountains, shared on a middle-aged woman’s Facebook page (usually called Susan), that says “every accomplishment begins with the decision to try”. And whilst may be true for many people I’d like to amend the quote slightly and say instead: “Every Decision to Try is an Accomplishment”. So keep on fighting!
*DISCLAIMER – Please do not try fly-kicking your enemies. Kids – if you are being bullied tell a grown-up.
Wishing you all good mental health!