I’ve spent many years mentally ill and many more years attempting to recover.
When the mind is ill it can be very tricky to work out what is going to help it recover.
I’ve discovered it involves an intricate balance of practical bits’n’bobs alongside deeper self discovery.
Everyone’s different but here’s my list of things that aided my recovery.
1. Friends and family
I’ve been fortunate to have some important people stick by me.
For me it was a committed therapist rather than the therapy that was important. I found someone who walked with me through the anger, silences, fear, darkness and the joys of my journey.
I always used to pretend I was ok, but I had to start saying ‘I’m not ok’ to tell people I was having dark thoughts and accept help.
Finding the right combination can be tricky but can be an important piece of the puzzle.
5. Staying connected
Tempting as it is to hide away, recovery is not possible alone.
When all else fails, it’s something to hold onto.
A way of just being, a way of accepting what is without judging how you feel or what you think.
Vital for me to stop judging myself as a failure, worthless or a burden.
8. Pepsi Max
Something familiar and comforting.
9. Being grateful
Every day I write down at least one thing I’m thankful for. It is possible even on the darkest of days.
Knowing that God is walking alongside me has sustained me.
Insomnia and sleep deprivation are the enemy. Sometimes it feels like nothing works but rest at night can be as important as sleep itself.
They’ve never judged me, they just accept me no matter how I feel.
This is proven to get endorphins (feel good hormones) flowing. A healthy body is important for a health mind.
14. Colouring and knitting
Creativity gives me a sense of achievement.
15. Getting dressed every day
No matter how I feel I get dressed.
A craft activity allowed in hospital – all you need is paper and instructions.
Recovery is not linear, it takes try after try after try.
18. Alone time
Not always encouraged when seriously unwell but as an introvert I need peace and quiet to recharge.
19. Fresh air
Breathing in cool, fresh air sets me up for a better day.
20. Rest days
I used to fear laziness but I had to accept I needed rest.
21. Voluntary work
Giving back feels essential for the soul to me.
22. Paid work
Actually managing to do something someone would pay me for meant the world to me. Incredibly difficult but infinitely rewarding.
For whatever reason I’ve always found it difficult to talk but once I’m writing I can express myself. I’d recommend everyone give it a go.
24. Believing in myself
Not easy but once you manage this, recovery is inevitable.
I believe everyone can find their way through the darkest mental health problems.
It’s hard work but once you find what works for you and surround yourself with people fighting with you, anything is possible.