Coffee talk: Mental Illness

I have been wanting to write a post about mental illness since I started blogging, but I felt like I still didn’t fully understand it. Until I educated myself on the topic and tried to better understand it, since it is something I – and many others – deal with daily.

What is Mental illness?

According to wikipedia ( a very trusted source *) Mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, mood or feeling. It is a condition that causes significant distress or personal functioning.

*That was sarcasm

Mental illness is a wide range of conditions including :

  • Clinical Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety / panic disorder
  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • ect

Each person experiences these disorders differently, even if you have the same diagnosis as someone else. A mental illness isn’t caused by a singular thing or reason, it is caused by a variety of factors such as environment, genetics, trauma experienced, chemical imbalances and lifestyle.

It has been found that 1 in 5 adults experience mental health conditions each year and 1 in 17 adults lives with a very serious mental illness like Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This not only affects the person with the mental illness but also those around them. I read on https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions that half of mental health conditions begin by the age of 14. 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. That is insane.

 My Story:

At age 13 I was diagnosed with Bipolar depression and by age 20 (just a few months ago) I was diagnosed with anxiety. My mom started noticing my mood swings was more intense than a regular kid my age. I had spent hours crying for no reason and completely withdrew myself from my friends. I hated myself and my mind hated me too. It was a constant war zone.

To cope I turned to writing and self harm(now keep in mind, there are loads of different forms of self harm – something I will blog about at a later time) – something I have only mentioned to a few close friends. I was a complete mess. I stopped living and became almost like a robot.

So, my mom took me to a doctor who diagnosed me and gave me medication and a psychologist. I slowly started recovering. I stopped self harming and focused all of my energy on positive things. I poured my emotions into writing and photography. I still had extreme lows on some days but I understood it better and knew that everything will be okay.

At 20 I began to notice the anxiety. I felt scared of everything. Whenever I had to go do something new, ask a question, order food, enter the gym, buy a coffee, call someone, meet new people or even go to the pharmacy I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Fear that I would embarrass myself, have word vomit, forget to talk or just say something stupid. Functioning on a day to day basis became exhausting to the point where I would sleep for 12 hours a day.

I started to withdraw again to a point where I didn’t even talk to any of my friends. I retreated to my room because I felt safe. I cancelled plans just because I was terrified of leaving the house. I argued hours on end with my parents because I didn’t want to go to the shops for bread.

But, yet again, mom came to the rescue and took me back to the doctor. He prescribed anxiety medication and gave me tips on dealing with it. I got help and it saved my life.

In school they never taught us about mental illnesses. We lightly touched on the subject but mostly kids just made crude remarks. I felt like (I still do) it is a very important subject. There are so many people who have no idea that they have a mental illness or that you will be okay. If I had known at age 13 – 15 what I know today – things would have been a lot different.

My advice:

I feel like I can give some advice on this topic since I have been battling it most of my life.

  • Talk to someone.  

I know how cliche that sounds, but when I say talk to someone I don’t mean a random stranger – I mean someone you trust. Because getting it out of your system lifts a great weight – at least in my experience.

  • Get help

Whether it is professional help, medical help or even a self help book – getting help is a must. You can try to battle this on your own – and some may even succeed. But it is a lot easier if you have someone or something to aid and guide you. Someone who can empathize with you and give you guidance or just hold you when you need it.

  • 3. Find a hobby.

Hobbies are great ways to distract your mind. So try a new sport, bake a cake, get creative or go explore new places. It really helps me to take photos or write.

  • 4. Get a part time job.

I say part time because it is a lot less stress than a full time and it is an easy way to keep busy for a while and a change of environment is always good. *Note: only get a part time job if you can afford it – otherwise a full time job will work just as well (Just don’t overwork yourself)

  • 5. Find a way to unwind.

I cannot tell you how important this is. I always keep an hour out of my day simply to unwind. I either read a book, watch series or movies, listen to music, write, draw, do make up or watch YouTube videos and it really helps me to just get out of my own head for a while. You can also try taking a luxurious bubble bath with scented candles and bath bombs or try to watch and take part in a yoga video on YouTube.

There are a lot more tips I can give but I felt like those are the most important tips. If you know someone who struggles with mental illness I encourage you to make them feel like they are not alone and constantly reassure them of it. Be patient with those who battle mental illnesses because their minds are war zones and it can be extremely overwhelming.

Spread this blog around to inform more people on the topic, because the more people understand – the less those who battle it will feel like they are alone.

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