It’s easy to forget just how important it is to love ourselves, especially when we’re struggling with a mental illness.  Chloe from Chloe Metzger has some top tips to help you love yourself that little bit more.

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Loving yourself in the deepest depths of  a mental illness can feel impossible. I know, because I’ve been there. When the demons in your head are the only thing you can hear and they’re adamant that you are worthless, the lowest of the low and not to be loved. It’s because that’s their horrible little hobby, to tell you these lies. It is possible though, even when you’ve lost hope. There are things that you can do to love yourself a little bit, even on your worst days.

  • Try and think of some of the good things you’ve done/do in your life, write them down for when you feel down. Not sure you can manage? Ask those closest to you what they think the best things about you are.

  • Take the time you need for yourself .

  • Try and do something you enjoy every week, because you deserve it.

  • Leave positive notes around your house (particularly the mirror).

  • Try and decorate with things that make you happy/you love – I like to try and have a space full of motivating postcards where I work.

  • Don’t be afraid to get help – if you feel you need some extra help, don’t be afraid to ask. There is nothing wrong with needing extra help for your mental illness, like life the illness can change.

  • Surround yourself with positive people – I’m a firm believer that the people you love can make or break your day. If you’re struggling to love yourself having someone who loves you can really help.

  • Listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone else, so listen and look after it.

  • Remember you are not your illness.  I’ve gotten mad at my illness so many times and hated myself in the process. When you’re mad imagine the illness as a person, remove it from yourself because ultimately it’s not your fault.

?? Chloe blogs at Chloe Metzger. You can find her on Twitter here!

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If there’s something we don’t talk about enough it’s self harm. It can be a scary topic to bring up and maybe you’re just not sure how to approach the subject. Grace from Grace Believed talks about the do’s and dont’s of talking to people who self harm.

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Self harm is something that affects so many more people than we realise, it is such a hidden and taboo mental health difficulty and I want this to change! As a suffer myself I have experienced my fair share of shame and absolute fear of becoming vocal about my experience of self harm

Self harm is used to describe a wide range of behaviours which someone carries out to cause pain to themselves, which is often a response to emotional pain of some kind.

As someone who self harms myself I can understand the difficulty of supporting someone who self harms, especially someone that you love and care about. Knowing  what to say to someone who self harms is difficult, perhaps you don’t understand why, perhaps you want to help but don’t want to say the wrong thing, perhaps you just want to make your friend stop and their suffering disappear?

Here are a few thing things that I believe you should or shouldn’t do when supporting someone who experiences self harm (in my opinion and experience, be aware that this might not be the case for everyone):

  • DO educate yourself about self harm and read advice pages online in order to understand what they are experiencing better
  • DO talk to them – but realise that you don’t just need to speak to them about self harm, just being there with a cup of tea or going out for the day or watching a movie will be helpful (never underestimate the power of small gestures)
  • DO ask them how they would like you to help – don’t be scared to ask
  • DO spend time with them – just because they self harm this does not make them a different person
  • DO focus on how someone is feeling, rather than the action they are doing to themselves
  • DO realise that recovery is possible – however be mindful that they may have a relapse and this is ok
  • DO realise that the person may be embarrassed or scared to discuss their behaviour – be supportive and understanding
  • DO look after yourself, supporting someone who self harms is very hard you might not be able to support them on your own
  • DO advise them to see a GP or counsellor
  • DO realise that you might not be able to keep everything that they are telling you a secret – if someone is at risk or danger you might need to tell someone to help both yourself and your loved one (however please be honest with the individual and by no means tell loads of people)
  • DO realise how much of an amazing person you are – it is great that you want to help them on their journey
  • DO find out about alternatives to self harm (snapping an elastic band on their wrist, squeezing ice in their hand, draw a red line where they want to hurt)
  • DON’T expect them to instantly stop, this is very very unlikely and the pressure of asking them to do this may make it worse
  • DON’T accuse the person of attention seeking – this is such a common myth
  • DON’T expect them to want to talk about self harm – personally I often cannot find the words to explain why I behave the well I do and being pressurised to speak about it can often make me feel worse about myself
  • DON’T be scared of them – please don’t panic of overreact, remember that they are still the same person you knew before you found out they self harmed
  • DON’T be judgemental – this won’t help anyone, especially not the person experiencing self harm
  • DON’T assume that they are suicidal, this is one of the biggest taboos surrounding self harm, just because someone deliberately harms themselves does not mean that they are suicidal, please make sure you understand this

Mostly just let them know that you are there, be compassionate, be there to support them and hold their hand through their journey. Ultimately please understand that it is a long and hard journey to stop self harming and be aware that someone will only stop self harming when they feel ready and are able to do so and there will be a chance of relapse even after this.

??Grace blogs over at Grace Believed. You can find her on Twitter here.

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As part of my Think Again: Mental Health Series Rachel from Rachel Rambling On questions why we aren’t talking about mental health.
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We talk about our physical health. If we have a cold, we get some advice from a pharmacist, if we break a leg we see a doctor, if we get a more serious illness like cancer, we get all the help we can. However, what about if our minds are sick?  What if you’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning because the thought of the day is too much? What if your mind is telling you you’re ugly? What if you have panic attacks every time you use public transport? Who do you tell then? Sometimes we don’t even tell our closest friends about this.

My question is, why shouldn’t we talk about it? Our minds are just as worthy of being healthy as the rest of our bodies. With this post, I aim to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly talking about our mental health. In school we are told to see the school nurse if we have a headache or sickness. In school you learn about different sorts of illnesses but never about mental illness. Why is that? Why is it frowned upon to talk about what’s going on in our heads?
 

According to some statistics suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 45. Yes, that’s right. More men under 45 in the UK die due to suicide, not cancer or lung disease. Suicide. Let that sink in. I can’t help but think if we spoke about our mental health more often and more openly, then this statistic would not be so prominent.
 

I began blogging about my mental health at the end of last year. I am beyond happy that I decided to do this because the support I have received from fellow bloggers has been phenomenal, and key to aiding my recovery. I know not everyone can blog about their mental health, some people find it difficult to talk about it at all, but in my opinion, once you have talked to just one person, it gets so much easier, like a weight has lifted. Talking about my mental health has helped others, it has educated those who didn’t know about my mental illness and it has helped to stop the stigma surrounding mental health. There is still a long way to go, but if every person who reads this can talk about mental health, be it their own, mental health in general or even sharing this post, we would be even closer to helping to banish the stigma surrounding mental health.
 

To get involved further why not join the #TalkMH chat on Twitter. It’s on a Thursday at 8.30pm (UK time) and the host is the wonderful @hannahrainey_ let’s all get involved and fight the stigma surrounding mental health.

?? Rachel blogs at Rachel Rambling On. Find her on Twitter here.
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To kick off my Think Again Mental Health series on the blog here’s a wonderful guest post on Borderline Personality Disorder from Beth over at Adventure & Anxiety.

BPDpost1I’m going to tell you a little secret, something I rarely share with anyone: I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I didn’t even know that was a thing until my third year of university, when I sat in the back of an Abnormal Psychology lecture with a feeling of my blood running cold. The lecturer was describing me to a T, and I was horrified.

At the time, I doubt anyone in that lecture hall would’ve recognized that disorder in me. In fact I’m fairly confident most people in my life wouldn’t have either. I was attending university and working part time, living in a flat with my best friend and had a long term boyfriend. I seemed ‘normal’. However just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Behind the scenes I was struggling. My mood swings were absolutely unreal; one minute I’d be happy as larry and the next I was absolutely consumed by a burning rage that meant I couldn’t think straight. I’d be in hysterical tears one second and then the next I’m acting selfishly and doing stupid risky things because I just don’t care. I felt empty inside. I was terrified my boyfriend was going to leave me, and I’d do anything at all to prevent it. I’d obsess over social interactions from years ago and still intensely feel the emotions I’d felt back then. I was being destructive and damaging to myself, and to my closest relationships.

Sitting in that lecture hall with the long sleeves I did (and still do) always wear hiding my self-harm scars, I was overwhelmed with conflicting emotions: other people felt like this? Am I just some sort of case study or statistic now? Does this mean I’m not a bad person after all?

For months I’d felt like a genuinely terrible person. I had no idea why I was always in a rage about absolutely nothing, why I could love a person one minute and feel like I hated them the next. When I’m at my worst I can be horrible – I am so angry that I’ll do or say anything to make myself feel better, completely disregarding other people’s feelings. Back then I just thought I was a nasty, vicious, unlovable person.

On the way home from that lecture I booked an appointment with my excellent doctor who’d already been helping me with my depression. I was so, so lucky to have a GP who had an interest in Mental Health. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to try to get help from someone who is completely uninterested or dismissive. Luckily, my doctor listened to me and what I had to say, and she eventually diagnosed me with BPD.

It’s a bit of a cliché, but having a name for what I was going through did help a lot. I don’t think that mental illness is an excuse for acting like a bad person, but at least now I understood it wasn’t like I was intentionally doing things to hurt people. I still felt like I didn’t know enough about it though, and I did a lot of research in the first few weeks. Reading about and relating to other people’s experiences confirmed to me that I wasn’t alone, that this wasn’t my fault but also that there was hope.

Since then, I’ve come across a lot of ignorance (in both senses of the word!) about BPD. People have either never heard about it, or they think that sufferers are twisted ‘psychos’ who will manipulate and abuse them. There are so many negative portrayals of what the disorder is like, which is why I don’t tell anyone – or didn’t up until now. It felt like it really changed how people felt about me, like I could actually see them stepping back from me. I get it, I know that not everyone wants to deal with my baggage and that is totally up to them, but I can’t say that didn’t hurt. But when I really think about it I know it just comes down to a lack of education and I can’t blame them for that – I mean I didn’t even know about it despite having it!

And that’s why I shared this little secret with you today, because there’s no reason it should be a secret at all. I’m not going to feel ashamed about something I can’t control, and I want anyone else who’s having a hard time to know they aren’t alone. I am more than my illness, and I finally am sure that I’m not a bad person.

?? Beth blogs at Adventure & Anxiety. Find her on Twitter here.

 

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Welcome to Think Again, my first mental health series on this blog. After starting my Bsc Mental Health Nursing degree in September my life has been pretty much surrounded by mental health. A lot has changed since September. I’ve seen more vomit, poo and blood than you could imagine and my friends now seem to think I’m a qualified psychotherapist who can answer their every problem. But more than that I’ve learnt A LOT about what Mental Health really means and the taboos and stigma that so many people deal with on a daily basis.

In the last nine months I’ve spent a total of 18 weeks on placement, that’s two community placements and one acute inpatient ward. In that time I’ve come into contact with so many service users, doctors, nurses, carers, social workers, advocates, volunteers, family members and occupational therapists amongst so many others but I can’t help but feel it’s all a bit clinical. I’m no expert in the mental health field but there’s still a lot to be desired when it comes to person centred care. It’s so easy to forget about the individual, to not recognise that there’s a person behind that illness. That’s what has persuaded me to create this series. I want you to read about my experiences and I want to read about yours so we can break down taboos together and think about each other before we judge based on the words personality disorder or hear that someone self harms.

Over the next couple of weeks there are going to be numerous posts going up on the blog covering everything from well known disorders like anxiety and depression to the lesser known topic of emetophobia and everything in between. For me the most important part of this mental health series is to break down the stigma by simply talking about mental health.

I’ve called the series Think Again because mental health issues demand more than a few seconds of our time. We need to think again about the prejudices we hold surrounding mental health and educate ourselves on the different forms it can take. And to think again about those in need of our support or when we need support ourselves.

Finally I will leave you with a few resources that you might find useful if you or a loved one is currently struggling with a mental illness or you just want some more info!

Time to Change

SANE

Mind

Rethink

Rachel x-x-x

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