Monday 27 March 2017

An Open Letter To Anyone With a Mental Illness

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You don't think it will get better. You can't see any hope. You feel trapped. Trapped inside your own mind. Your demons controlling everything you feel. Every emotion. Everything you do. You can't cope. You feel like you will never be better again. 

You are fed up of people telling you that it will be okay in the end. It's all going to be okay. You wonder when the end is going to come because you have been suffering silently for months maybe even years on end and you haven't seen as much as a glimmer of hope. 

You are done with the stigma that surrounds having a mental illness. You wish people would understand how disabling living with a mental illness really is. How pain is so much more than an arm in a cast or walking with a limp. In fact, some of the worst suffering you can ever face is completely invisible. How being physically and mentally ill are just the same. The only thing that distinguishes them apart is the negative connotations and stigma that surrounds them.

You want to be happy. You are fed up with waking up exhausted, drained beyond belief. You may be on waiting lists for therapy. You start to doubt if you will ever get the help you need. You're frustrated with the mental health care system. The NHS has you waiting months and months for any kind of support and leaves you with nothing in the meantime. You continue to struggle on your own. Some of you may have got the help you need through CBT or counselling, but it hasn't helped. You may be going through a relapse highly doubting if you will ever get better.

Whatever situation you are in, I want you to know something. You can and will get better. On one condition, you want to get better and are prepared to stand up to your mental illness and not let it get the better of you. Not let it ruin and rule anymore of your life. 

I won't sugar coat things I can't tell you that it's all going to be okay, that it's going to be easy because it's not. Recovery isn't a straight road. It's going to be full of obstacles and bumps because it's very hard to change. I could bombard you will science and neurones, but I don't think you will appreciate that much. Once your brain is conditioned to think in a certain way it becomes very hard to reinvent your thinking patterns. Your body becomes in control of your brain. It's time to put your brain back in control.

There are so many options out there to help you get better. I can't sit here and tell you that one is better than the other because everyone is an individual and different things work for different people. There's CBT, counselling, EMDR, mindfulness and hypnotherapy just to name a few. I've tried the vast majority of therapy techniques, and it's safe to say some work better than others.

The hardest part of recovery is accepting you want to change. You can be armed with all the self-recovery techniques you need but if your hearts not in it it won't help which sounds really harsh I know, but it's the truth. Trust me, the amount of times I have tried and tried to get better but I couldn't because the voices in my head were stronger. A lot stronger. 

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That's not to put you off. Recovery is possible, it's just a very long process, full of relapses and setbacks but that doesn't mean you are a failure. It means you are strong. You are resilient and prepared to stand up to mental illness. Mental illnesses don't go away if you ignore them. In fact, they get stronger. The sooner you realise something is wrong, stand up to your demons and get the help you need, the easier it will be to recover. 

There is a stigma around being mentally ill. People look down on you if you take antidepressants for your mental health or if you go to therapy. But I want you to know something for everyone who judges someone with a mental illness there is someone who understands. Someone who has been through what you have. 1/4 people suffer from a mental illness. You are not alone. 

The statistics around mental illness scare me. To think that many people battle with the demons inside their head every single day and most of the time the people around them haven't got a clue. I'm interested in mental health and am very keen on pursuing a career in mental health. I'm not saying that you need to be studying mental health for days on end but once you start to understand your illness better. You will realise that it's not your fault. Your just one of the seven people in any class of 30 at school that has to go through some kind of mental illness. 

There are people out there to help you. To listen and provide a shoulder to cry on. But they can only do so much. They can only help if you let them. Being open and honest is key to recovery. No one can do it for you. You have to do it yourself. Instead of believing that you can't. Believe that you can. Be kind and caring towards yourself. Recognise you are going through a hard time and tell yourself that it's okay. This is normal, you are human. 

Rome wasn't built in a day. Great things don't happen overnight. They take time. Don't put pressure on yourself to recover quickly because it won't happen. But that doesn't mean that recovery will never happen. Please hang on in there because you are braver, smarter, kinder, prettier and funnier than what you think you are. 

Trust me, you don't know what the next day brings until you see it through, so it's best to stick around for a while, eh? 

Thank you for reading, as always X
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