2017 should have been one of the most exciting years of my life yet. We were getting married; we were settling well in the beautiful Cornish countryside & on paper I looked like a very content *nearly* adult. Spoiler… I wasn’t but there is a happy ending, I promise.
2017 & most of 2018 saw my mental health at the lowest it has ever been, and the worst part is nobody knew except my now husband. I didn’t talk at all, to anyone, not even to myself. In fact, looking back I didn’t have any kind of internal dialogue. I really thought I could get better, happier all on my own. But back then my method was to paper over the cracks slipping on my positive pants. Convincing myself that they were fixing things, that my pity party for one was pathetic and none of the problems in my head were ‘real’ problems. I wrote this blog post back then.
Reading that post takes me straight back to that week. I didn’t write a diary then, but I could probably tell you what happened that week & month because it was a horrible one. But let’s not dwell on the specifics. I want to concentrate on how I got out of that deep dark hole, because, I don’t want anyone to ever feel lost like I did. And if you do feel lost, there are random people out there with a ladder to help you out.
In 2018 I sat with my dogs and wrote down all the ways I could check in with my mental health and to put me on a track to getting better.
I have tried a lot of things over the past 18 months, but these are my top 5, that I know work for me.
Mental health is a very personal thing and these 5 aren’t ground-breaking but if I can just help one person, that will be enough.
- Do at least 1 thing every day for myself.
I mean more than just cook myself a dinner that isn’t beige. I mean show yourself some real self-love; smother yourself in your favourite body lotion, heck! make it a real self-love date night and have a long soak in the bath with candles and a book. Sack off a house job that can wait and binge your favourite Netflix show! Just make sure you don’t go to bed having done everything for everyone and nothing for you.
- Be more mindful; of my thoughts, of my food, of what I’m surrounding myself with.
It is so true that you are what you eat. I have followed Slimming World for 4 years and I’ve remained near target for the whole time. But in 2017/2018 I honestly fuelled myself up on coffee and chocolate and EVERYTHING beige. I am also a great believer of using food as medicine because personally it has done great things for me.
But also – be kinder to yourself. I am my harshest critic and it harps back to me telling myself that my problems weren’t ‘real’ problems at all. But they were. They were legitimate and maybe if I had been kinder to myself, I wouldn’t have gotten so low. So, each day in my diary I write down one thing I did well that day. I think its just about acknowledging when you have a negative thought and trying to work out why but also dealing with it.
- Exercise, yep the very thing I hate the most
I will never ever be an avid exerciser. I don’t own a gym membership and I never will, and I don’t even kid myself that ill go swimming because it doesn’t fit in to my life and I just don’t enjoy the upheaval. Walking however, that is my jam. With or without the dogs I walk every day. It helps that I live in (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful counties in England but even just walking around where I live does it. Stick a podcast on or music in your ears and go for it. You won’t regret it.
- Get outside
This is the same as above really. But it just makes you realise that no matter what is happening in your life the flowers will still flower, the grass will still grow, and the birds still need feeding. 2 years after buying my first bird feeder I am still feeding them the birds in my garden and it feels great. I am very lucky to own two large gardens but even just planting up a couple plant pots with some easy-care bulbs should be more than enough.
Like I said, back then I didn’t talk. I am not sure whether there was even an internal dialogue that wasn’t horribly toxic. Then when my husband started working away, I used it as an excuse to not talk when I got home from work, then when things started to go downhill at work, I started not talking there either. I could genuinely go hours and hours without really talking. My friends weren’t too busy to talk to me and neither were my family, but I just couldn’t face talking. But maybe just go to the shop and chat with the checkout staff, pay for your petrol with a person not a machine or even knock some things of your to do list by calling your internet provider etc.
So, that’s it really. That is what I do every day to make sure I don’t dip that low again. But mental health it isn’t linear. If you’re not okay now it will get better and if you are okay – don’t forget you need to check in with yourself to make sure you don’t slip back into old habits.
But more than anything I hope you’re okay – and if you aren’t message me, or anyone. Just don’t suffer in silence.