22 Dec

Solutions to Heal Mental Illness

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Depression, Anxiety, OCD, personality disorders or mental illness in any form can be overwhelming, terrifying and seemingly impossible to live with.

Sometimes you will get comments such as “we all feel that way from time to time” or “it’s just a rough day” and it makes you feel worthless, weird or like you just need to get over it and it can put you off getting help! I hope you never experience this because it’s horrible to feel when this feeling is so formidable and devastating. We need support, understanding and to know that you don’t have to face this alone.

To start with you need to identify that you need to get help and to know that this doesn’t make you crazy, an attention seeker or beyond help. You are important, you are worthy, you deserve understanding and there are many ways in which you get help manage how you feel.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no one solution to a label such as “depression”. You could be seen as having depression because of going through a bad break up, because of losing a parent, because you struggle to get out of bed each morning.

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It has been said that, while some of these may not come under the label of ‘a mental illness’ this doesn’t mean that you feel those feelings any less, it doesn’t make them any less true, but perhaps those feelings have come about in a different way, and will need different methods in which to support you and help you cope and get through those really tough times, and just because they all have the same label, does not mean it will simply go away with a quick solution.

A recent interview between Russell Brand and Marianne Williamson discusses the idea that the idea of mental illness, in particular Depression as being needed to be investigated more than purely looking at the label when looking at the best treatment for the individual.

Marianne Williamson stated:

“I’ve lived through periods of time that, by any means today would be called clinical depression, but even that’s such a scam. All that means is somebody in a clinic setting. There is no blood test, right? But if you’ve been there, you know it”

I struggled with this because at first I thought she was trying to say that Depression wasn’t real, I believe this is explaining that if you use grief, or mourning a loss as an example, this wouldn’t be seen as a clinical issue, but doesn’t mean those feeling that people experience are any less, but instead perhaps needs to be approached in a different way in terms of treatment.

In a recent poll on twitter, I asked what people have found most helpful in helping to treat mental illness. 22% said medication, 14% said various therapy approaches, and 12% said a change in lifestyle of some sort but the majority, with 52% saying a mixture of the above.

So what is right for you?

A lot of finding which approach is best for you will be trial and error but I would say that first, its best to go to the GP and see what is on offer for you, as although me and you may have the same label, the way in which treatment will be affective for each of us, may be completely different. There are pros and cons of all approaches, but when used together, it is seen as more successful.

Medication:

Medication can help to lessen he symptoms to make it more manageable to cope in day to day life, but this is often much more successful with talking therapies as well. However, drugs can be addictive and have issues with withdrawal, and high doses can be very dangerous and lead to both psychological and physical harm. Unfortunately medication can be very expensive and not always accessible to everyone, and can produce side effects, so whilst there is much research to show that it can help, it’s not everyone’s first choice when looking into treatment, and of course it will be more affective with some illness compared to others.

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Some people prefer to look into herbal medicines and alternative drugs to help manage their systems (and I’m talking legal only!!) Studies have shown that the lack of some nutrients can lead to symptoms being worse, so taking some herbal meds can help balance this out, leading to the symptoms to be easier to cope with.

Psychological approaches:

Talking therapies are very popular in helping to treat mental illnesses by looking at the root of the problem, going back to looking at how we have previously reacted and why that is, and then going forward, can help create and encourage positive changes. People find it helpful to work out and talk through negative thought processes and see where it would be helpful to make those changes and help to take control of our lives, increase confidence in doing so and helping to manage the symptoms.

For example, CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) investigates challenging behaviour and create more positive solutions to solve some problems that we face daily due to mental illness.

The main aspect of this is to understand, become more aware of accept your emotions and find easier, and healthier ways in which to react to situations which have a more positive outcome for yourself and potentially others around you.

Lifestyle changes:

I’m pretty sure that within recovery, all of us at some point will have been told to ‘go for a walk’ or asked ‘have you tried a bath?!’ and it’s the most infuriating and frustrating thing that can be said to us in that moment… however it can massively help! There are many seemingly small changes that we can make in our day to day life that may make things feel slightly easier to manage. For example, giving up alcohol and caffeine may make a big difference, exercise may make differences in our overall mood, and using calming techniques to help us relax, whether it be distractions, or a relaxing bath with a cup of tea, enough to allow time to remove ourselves from the situation, take a step back and review it in a different light.

So while medication may not help someone going through a breakup, and having a cup of tea doesn’t make the negative thoughts go away, there will be something that in time, can help make those dark days seem a little brighter.

Hi, I’m Becky! I studied Psychology and criminology in Bristol and I am the founder of #Strongertogether. I started the charity to help others who may be having a difficult time with mental illness and for those that help support them through the tough times. I have faced my own mental illness struggles within the last few years and want others to know it’s okay to not be okay and to reach out where you feel able. I want people to feel understood, supported and valued, because we all deserve that!