Have any of you ever suffered with anxiety? Maybe some of you have had panic attacks or suffered some form of depression. In today’s society we seem to be hearing more and more about mental health problems. Is this because they are greater now than they were say, twenty or thirty years ago, or is it because we, as a society, are more aware? Is it because we now have so much more knowledge now than we did or is it because we have become more understanding of people with mental health issues? Whatever the answer to these questions the fact is that mental health awareness is a big subject at the moment.
So why does it feel like the help still really isn’t there?
I know there are charities and organisations all over the place that offer fantastic support. The NHS here in the UK has innumerable ways in which it offers help to those suffering from a mental illness. Work places now offer support to their employees. Employees are protected by legislation. But, you see, getting the help you need is not as easy and straight forward as it’s made out to be.
The first hurdle to overcome is getting a diagnosis. Should be simple right, there’s so much support out there. Wrong! The trouble is that the services available, whether NHS, private or charity run, are so overwhelmed with the number of patients that they can’t cope with the demand. That leaves Joe Public bumbling from one service to another, until they can finally get the right support for them.
I know some of you may be reading this and thinking I’m talking out of my backside, but let me tell you that I’m talking from experience. I’ve been in the darkest place. I’ve sunk to rock bottom. I’ve allowed my demons to take over my life and I was nearly destroyed by them in the process!
I know that feeling when you’re at rock bottom that nothing is ever going to get better. That everything is against you. The voices in your head that never let up. The feeling of total worthlessness and utter despair!
I know what it feels like to have that rising feeling of panic for no apparent reason where your throat feels like it’s closing in and you can’t breathe. The nervous anxiety when you are out in public or at a social event. The fear of actually making it to social events! Sweating palms, wobbly knees, feet refusing to step one in front of the other. I know what it feels like. Totally lonely and seemingly never-ending.
Aside from my own personal experiences I have an estranged father who is manic-depressive, a sister who is bipolar (and has been sectioned twice), my oldest daughter suffers severe anxiety and debilitating panic attacks, my youngest daughter has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and two of my nieces (from different sides of the family) suffer with depression! I won’t even get started on friends and work colleagues! You could say that my family has a wonky gene or that we’re all a load of fruit cakes (yes, we still manage to have a sense of humour about it all) or you could just say that mental health problems are more prevalent than they have ever been. Maybe it’s the society we live in, who knows?
So, you see, I come from a place of experience. A place of knowing. I know that mental illness is different for everyone. Whether you are born with it or ended up with it through some trauma or event, YOU can change it.
YOU can make the choice to feel differently.
YOU can let it beat you of you can beat it!
YOU HAVE A CHOICE!
We all know that the law of attraction is all about positive thinking. We also know that it’s all about gratitude. These two things alone can change your whole perspective on life and help steer you on a path to a more positive, happier you.
When we choose to focus on the negative we start to notice other things in our lives that are negative. We magnify these negatives over and over until they become so overwhelming that we no longer have the ability to see the positive in our lives. It doesn’t matter what is going on in your life there is always something to be grateful for, ALWAYS!
Negative: I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. I never felt loved by him. I was frightened of him. He got our family into debt.
Positive: I had a loving mother, sister and grandparents. I had a lovely home. I never went without. My sister and I always felt love from everyone else around us. Our mother protected us from our father when he was drunk. When he was sober my father was the kindest man anyone ever met.
Negative: My parents got divorced. They lost our family home. My grandmother died quite young and very suddenly.
Positive: I’d left home by the time my parents divorced and I’d had a good childhood thanks to my mothers protection. I have the most beautiful memories of my grandmother and I know she is always watching over me.
Negative: I had a nervous breakdown due to my fathers alcohol abuse and how it impacted on my life.
Positive: I had a breakthrough not a breakdown!
Negative: It’s raining
Positive: The rain makes the flowers grow!
I could go on and on………..
There are always two sides to every coin. You can either allow the negative to destroy your spirit and drag you into the depths of despair or you can learn from it and grow. I know some things are harder to overcome than others. There will always be unanswered questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’. There will always be pain. Sometimes mental illness just creeps up on you out of nowhere, for no apparent reason. Anxiety is a bugger for this! It’s how you deal with it that makes the difference.
Don’t be afraid – You are not in this alone. There are people who can help. There is a light at the end of this dark, scary tunnel.
Don’t be ashamed – Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Some of the strongest people in the world suffer with one form or another of mental illness.
Don’t try to run and hide from it – Face it full on, no matter how scared you are. Running and hiding only makes matters worse. You cannot escape what’s inside your head. You have to deal with it.
Seek help – Go to your GP. Speak to friends and family. Call one of the many mental health help lines available. Go to your parish priest. Whoever you feel most comfortable with, go talk to them. Tell them how you feel.
Below are some of the things I used (and still do) in times of stress, anxiety and depression:
I take time to meditate – Meditation is great for calming the mind and body. It centres you and brings about a sense of perspective. It allows you time to clear your mind and re-evaluate your thoughts. Often we get stressed about things that are beyond our control. We lose sight of logic and reason. Meditation brings us back to a place of calm so we can look at things from a more logical point of view.
Can I control this? – If something is beyond our control then why waste countless hours, days and months worrying about it? If we have no control then we must simply let it go and allow the process to happen. It’s going to happen anyway and nine times out of ten the outcome is far less scary than we imagined it to be anyway. Remember, by worrying constantly about something you are emitting a signal of wanting more things to worry about and we all know the universe is gonna keep on sending us what we ask for and we don’t want that do we!
Write it down – I find that if I am feeling anxious about something if I write it down it seems to lose it power. As you put into words what you are anxious about it begins to shrink in its enormity. What seemed like a momentous problem suddenly becomes nothing more than a bump in the road. When we write things down we tend to revert to factual information, without the added emotion created by our anxieties the problem doesn’t seem all that bad after all. Also, by writing things down it gives you the opportunity to figure out solutions to said problems and write them down on paper too. Again, if there is no solution, then it’s out of your control so there’s no point worrying about it after all!
Go for a walk – I find exercise and fresh air can do wonders for an anxious mind. It enables you to clear your head of all those negative thoughts and focus on more positive things like the beauty of nature, the elements or an unexpected smile from a passer-by.
And breathe – Count your breath…… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and again, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…….. it is impossible to focus on anything else when you’re counting your breath, so this simple act allows you to clear your mind and clam down. I find this a great help if a panic attacks comes on as it stops the mind going into overdrive and creating all manner of demons to feed the panic.
Positive thinking and gratitude are hard to summon when we are feeling low, especially if we have got to the point of depression or severe anxiety. However, it is possible, alongside professional, medical help, to overcome our mental health problems and use the law of attraction to create a more positive future. Daily affirmations to reinforce good mental health and self belief are a great place to start. They help to build self-confidence and self-worth, both things lacking when in a place of mental illness. There are lots of great apps out there that deliver daily affirmations straight to your smart phone. You could also find one, or a few, you like and write them down or print them out and have them next to your bed, read them every morning before you get up. Once you begin to feel better about yourself and your situation you can then start to focus on the positive things in your life rather than the negative. Look always for the good in each day, no matter how small. Create a gratitude journal and write in it every night before bed. If something bad happens look for the positive side to it. Ask yourself if you could have changed things and if not then let go. If you could have changed it and didn’t, don’t stress, learn from it and move on. Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go according to plan. There is no such thing as failure, only lessons learnt and steps taken towards success. Forgive yourself, you are only human. Take one day at a time.
Most importantly, learn to love yourself, warts and all. None of us are perfect and we are not meant to be. We are all Gods children and he loves us all (if that’s what you believe, if not then that’s OK too).
I hope you have found this helpful.
Love and happiness