Welcome back to SeeingSophie!
Todays blog post is on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: mental illness. As a pre-warning, this post is going to be quite personal and confronting and so if you’re faint of heart or going to be affected by reading it then I would advise to finish reading now.
As a rule, I don’t like discussing topics of which I haven’t personally experienced, and so todays post will be on the following:
Borderline Personality Disorder
I’m going to give you all a quick outline of each so that you understand what each of these terms mean. This is especially important for #3, because I believe that it is often overlooked in adolescents with mental illness.
Depression is a non-psychotic mental health disorder that results in an individual constantly feeling intensely sad, lonely, or miserable, and a lack of interest in their normal daily activities. This is often (but not always) paired with suicidal tendencies. Obviously, this can cause a large impairment on quality of life, as the individual does not believe that they should actually be alive.
Anxiety often comes hand-in-hand with depression, and is also a non-psychotic disorder but is characterised by strong feelings of worry, subconsciousness, fear, or anxiety. This worry is often strong enough that it interferes with the individual’s daily activities, sometimes restricting what they can do in life as a result.
Borderline personality disorder is commonly called ‘BPD’ and NOT to be confused with bi-polar disorder. BPD is based on an individual having a severe difficult in regulating their own emotions, leading to rocky personal relationships, low (or absent) self-esteem, self-sabotaging, suicidal tendencies, and mood swings. Here are some sites to read about it: 1, 2
Let me assure you, having all three of these is a rollercoaster.
While I am not currently affected by any of the three disorders, mental disorders unfortunately do not ‘go away.’ They lie dormant in you until such consequences occur that they are brought to the forefront of your mind.
This is because they are caused by neurological chemical imbalances. Basically, your brain isn’t sending the same messages, or making the same chemicals, as other peoples’ brains.
But that is okay.
I’m going to tell you a little bit about my life with mental illness, and then I’m going to share with you my 10 tips for coping with mental illness. Here we go.
At the lowest point in my mental illness, I tried to kill myself. I had been prescribed anti-depressants which I didn’t take for 2 months and instead stored away. One night, I overdosed and was left bed-ridden for three days.
At the ‘normal’ points during the time of my mental illness, I hated being alive. I questioned why I was even still on the planet, I questioned by anybody loved me, I pushed all of my friends and family away, I ruined my education, and the list goes on. I did not want to be alive, and I decided that ruining everything good in my life would simply give me more reason to die.
On the good days, I felt normal. I would go to school, see my friends, smile once or twice. While I still felt normal, I always had that niggling thought in the back of my mind that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t supposed to be alive. Those were the good days.
For a long time, I didn’t want help, and this made my mental health worse. Eventually I found a reason to be alive and while I’m not going to share what that was, I think it’s very important for each individual to find their reason, and to keep it in their sights.
There are always long term issues, however. Mine are trust issues, scars, and chronic insomnia. I am ashamed of none of these.
If you’re suffering from a mental illness, then I highly advise that you contact a mental health service such as beyond blue or kids helpline, but if that’s not the kind of thing you want, then here’s 10 tips that helped me personally to get back on my feet:
A journal/diary, a novel, an autobiography, silly little blog posts that nobody will ever read, whatever you want. I started with a physical diary, but then started a digital one using Tumblr, because I found that physically writing my feelings and thoughts often made me feel worse. Writing works as a reprieve from all of your worst feelings, and there’s nothing I would rate higher
Any relationships that you may have destroyed because of your mental illness: reach out to them. I buried my pride as deep down as possible and I messaged all of the people that I had pushed away from me. In the end, about 50% of them are now my best friends once again and were completely understanding of everything I went through. Even getting one friend back using this process is substantially helpful, as it gives you back something from your ‘old life,’ which can help with recovery
If you’re at a secondary or tertiary institution, then this is a bit of an easy one, just pay attention in your classes/lectures. When you have depression in particular, this might seem like the last thing you want to do, but learning new things always makes you feel better. If you’re left a learning institution then there’s so many other options: read articles on the internet about things you’re interested in, sign up to online courses that sound like your forte or visit a public library.
Reading genuinely helped me immensely on my worst days. When you read, you become so completely engrossed in the material that it is often difficult to concentrate on the musings inside your head. It’s important that you try to avoid any material regarding mental illness as this can make you obsess over your feelings and make your disorder worse.
5. Allow help
You’re not going to get better unless you let people help you. So let them help you. This is the most important thing. I would be nowhere without my family and friends, I can assure you. If there are people that you trust, and they think something is best for you, then you should think about doing it. Your thoughts are addled by your illness and you shouldn’t trust yourself when you have a mental condition.
Pick something silly, something easy, something from your childhood that you loved doing, and do it. For me, this was doing puzzles. During the nights when I don’t sleep (on account of the chronic insomnia), I sit at my desk and do jigsaw puzzles piece by piece. It keeps my mind active and occupied, and passes the time in a positive way, rather than lying in bed awake thinking about dying.
Anxiety and depression are often disorders caused by personal circumstances that are major life changes. To stabilise these illnesses, it is always best to have a routine in your life that you follow and stick to as much as possible. Don’t plan your life out minute by minute, but do things like have a specific bed time + getting up time, set specific meal times, and stick to them. Routine is a good friend of positive mental health.
If your mental illness is negatively affecting your life, then professional help may be necessary. A psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor or doctor are trained specifically to deal with individuals like yourself, and do not negatively judge you for anything you do or say. Talking about how you feel to a complete stranger helps to get things off your chest and can be extremely stress-relieving.
9. Do what you want
(Within reason of course.) If there’s something you enjoy doing, do it. With depression especially, one of the best ways to pave the way back to ‘normal’ is to find a reason to be alive. The best way to find this is to do things you love, because eventually you’ll find something or someone that makes your heart race and have you smiling without realising it.
This one might not be applicable to everybody, but animals are known sources of stress relief and can soothe anxiety. My mum bought me a ‘therapy cat’ which isn’t trained in medical assistance at all obviously but was bought for the sole purpose of giving me something to live for. While she wasn’t THE reason, in the end, Daisy made me want to get up in the morning, made me want to smile and laugh and sing and I knew that I had to be alive so that she could be alive and looked after. Animals are so important in the mental health of humans, I would definitely suggest getting a pet if you feel like you can’t talk to a human.
There are my tips and tricks, please use them if/whenever you need, and feel free to suggest some in the comments if you’ve got any good ideas.
Sorry this was a bit of a long, serious post, but my mental illnesses are a part of me and something that I definitely wanted to be on here at some point in time.
Once again, thank you for reading, and subscribe for more!