Stay organised – Stay at peace

Whether you tidy your bedroom or keep a diary, staying organised will help you stay at peace and arrange your thoughts.
When you enter a clean, tidy, Ikea looking room there’s an automatic sense of relaxation. That’s a feeling we should all aim to maintain. Having a messy room may be due to personal trait but it can also show that you have had enough or no longer take care of yourself.
Once in a few months, I grab a black bag and have a clear out. Sometimes I even change the layout of my bedroom, leaving a sense of tranquil. If you are depressed or like to spend a lot of time in your bedroom (like myself), having a clear out is the first stage to feeling refreshed and motivated. By having a spring clean we’re protecting our health by cleaning, leading to fresh air and a better night’s sleep; it gets us active and boosts motivation and best of all, we find things that were once lose and gain a sense of accomplishment and happiness.
Once your room is clean and tidy, you can work on finding your peace further. You may have more space to put out a yoga mat, purchase candles and flowers, add a whiteboard with sticky notes, organise items in boxes, whatever you like.
Having a diary or calendar is mentally great for staying organised. If you have low moods or anxiety the best thing you can do to declutter your brain is to write down your daily tasks or a list of what you need to complete throughout the month. The more you do this, the more it will reduce your stress. CBT believe its best to keep busy every day but personally, that’s not necessary. Sometimes we have so many going on that we just need a day or evening alone to just do nothing.
For the past few years, I’ve had a diary and it does all the remembering for me, resulting in me having time and space to think and not stress about what I should or should not be doing on certain days. Think about how you can declutter your life.

Distance yourself from bad vibes

Sometimes with mental health we tend to distance ourselves from people; usually the ones who care about us the most. We’re too fixated on our worries, stress and negativity to think about whether the people we do keep around are the problem.

I’ll happily admit I’ve cut close friends out of my life purely because I recognised they were no good. Friendships & relationships needs to work both ways. If you’re with someone who doesn’t ask how you are doing, calls just to check up on you or only talks about themselves, you need to question what’s the purpose of this. Depending on where you’re from, taking me (a British) for example, we don’t always like confrontation, dealing with frustrating situations or not being liked however, if you have someone in your life who isn’t bringing food to the table, simply send them away from your house (not literally but I think you get the point). I’ve had friends, even an ex who were so wrapped up in their own world and superficial behaviour that they didn’t realise I too was generally going through situations in which I needed support. When we are depressed or anxious we don’t want people to worry or feel sorry for us so we don’t make a big deal or say ‘look guys I’m depressed’ but someone real and meaningful in your life should be able to see a shift in your behaviour or even in your expressions, lifestyle and appearance.  Due to this, if you see a friend that is usually dressed to the nines and suddenly stops caring about their hair, or getting dressed up for a night out, just sit that person down and have a 1 to 1; see if they open up to you and trying to have a heart to heart.  

In whatsapp group chats there is usually one person in the group you’re closest too, or the loud one, the one with all the banter, the one with the gossip, the one who replies every 5-7 working days, the meme one and the one who reads but ‘forgets’ to reply. It’s very easy to act okay and to have a good time together but there’s no harm in opening a direct conversation with someone in the group if you pick up on something they said within the conversation that didn’t sit well with you. Sometimes people in group conversations can be indirect or like me quite passive aggressive. Check on your strong friend.

The thing with certain friends, especially the loud or the gossip is that you may question their intentions. The gossip could easily spread your business and the loud could easily make the situation about them. If there’s someone in your circle you don’t trust or can’t rely on, cut them out. If there sometimes there, sometimes not- cut them out. If you feel you’ve out grown the friendship- that’s right, you cut them out. Sounds harsh and rude but honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air to get rid of bad vibes. I’ve known people for many years and have outgrown friendships and acknowledge I’m better off without them. If I can’t confide in you and rely on you to help me get out my bad mood or to at least support me as a distraction then there’s really no time to entertain this. Sometimes it’s the people you’ve known for less time that become really good friends and its usually down to maturity and the stage in life you’re at.

Its not always friends that could be a problem. In the black community, especially within older generations (our parents, grandparents, more on) they don’t acknowledge mental illness as a thing. You must get up and continue with life, no point crying over spilled milk. The older generation believe we’re just lightweights and that they’ve been to hell and back so whatever we are going through isn’t that bad. Truth of the matter is, this world hasn’t become easier, everyday they’re constantly struggles. Culture sometimes stands in the way of treatment. In addition, seeking professional help, statically its hard to find a black professional in this field or if you do go to a Caucasian professional, would they truly understand your issues? It really depends on their experience.  I don’t think my professional understood that you can’t always just walk into a black household, sit down and openly talk about your feelings. In addition to family, your partner could have an impact.  Not everyone will have the most supportive, affectionate or understanding. How they help you deal with your mental health will determine whether they deserve a place in your life; unfortunately, you may love someone but its not always enough. Toxic behaviours and love could be one of the reasons you are feeling worried or stressed or depressed in the first place. If this is the case there are multiple reasons why you may not want to let go: fear of being alone, thinking you’ve found the one, thinking this is what you deserve, embarrassment or ending a relationship, the list goes on. However, when it comes to doing what is best for you, you need to be selfish and what’s best only  for you. Bearing this in mind, picture your life without the emotional and mental affect of this person. Think about the benefits of losing that negativity. You won’t automatically start feeling better, but you develop as a person and get to a stage in life were you will wonder why you put up with them in the first place. If you have to tell someone in your life to take a step back or to leave you for good, do you and maybe with maturity and time they will understand why.

Is this the road to recovery?

When I met with the professional, from beginning to end I was encouraged to think about recovery (clinical recovery). I did not agree with this at all but I carried on with what was required of me to complete the sessions. Clinical recovery is what professionals see as the end goal, it’s them acknowledging that they’ve helped you with your mental illness and think you are healed enough to continue in the real world without their assistance anymore. Over a year later I decided to do volunteer work within mental health; we discussed recovery and as a group of people who have all experienced some type of mental health issue, we overall agreed recovery does not exist.

There’s clinical recovery but there’s also personal recovery which is defined as building a happy and healthy life around mental health. That is doable but I say recovery doesn’t exist as I would define that as development. Not everyone goes back to being the person they once were and not everyone wants to be the person they once were. Due to bad memories or a negative outlook on life, why would someone want to go back to that headspace? Professionals never look at our goals simply as us wanting to be happy and healthy- that is it. We go to therapy, try new things, try to get out of negative environments in order to become a ‘new person’, the person we wanted to be the whole time. If someone suffers from anxiety and doesn’t like to leave their house, with help from my service, family, friends, anything that helps them change when they begin to make progress, this is not recovery. If anything I would consider it as a rebirth. The old, negative, stay at home you dies and the new, trying, motivated, getting out the house you begins to live and has a different perspective on life.

Recovery could be perceived for someone who has had a tragic experience, suffers from low moods and slowly but surely recovers back to their old self, however, after a tragic experience no one is truly the same and ‘back to normal’. When volunteering we were made to look at the Recovery Tree and think about all the elements in life that could help us improve. This is looking at strength, peer support, dreams, choices and many more.  Then we looked at relationships, hobbies, all the things we do and don’t do or would like to do. For example, I may like culture and history but not go to Museums like I would like to do. That is a relationship and social tasks I could work on in order to build on myself (confidence, anxiety, stress). The Recovery Tree is more of a development cycle.

In conclusion, don’t think of recovery as the end goal, think about what you want to achieve as the main goal. My personal opinion is we shouldn’t use the word recovery. It’s not a thing. In conversation, you wouldn’t say “Tom was depressed but he has recovered now”. I’m most likely to say “Tom was depressed but he’s out and about, looking better, eating better and I’m happy for him”. That’s not recovery, that’s healing and making way for a change…development.

Lesson On Depression

It’s not that deep until it happens to you.

I read that once and it’s so real. We sympathise, listen and nod along but never fully understand or ‘get it’ until we ourselves have been in that position.

I am so glad there is now a bigger awareness of mental health. Looking back, I first started getting depressed during my first year of University in 2012. At the time I didn’t know I was depressed and blamed it on low moods and change of environment; thought it was just a late moody teenage phase. If there was more of awareness back then I believe I could have dealt with it a lot differently and my life choices overall would be a lot different.  Instead, I left University, got a job to keep busy and went back to another University several months later. Things got better but with the ups and downs of life, the depression always followed me. It took 5 years to finally seek professional advice and to finally tell my friends and family. Instead of constantly replying to messages saying “yeah I’m good thanks, you?” I was actually expressing myself better and able to say ‘you know what I’m actually not good today and here’s why’.

After seeking professional help I realised University wasn’t the reason for the depression; it played a minor part however, I was triggered. In the year 2014-15 statistics show 1,180 students left Universities in the UK due to mental health (1). Shocking right? And we can only assume today that number has increased. I have always been bubbly, somewhat life of the party but when you’ve been depressed for so long your mind adapts and learns how to act around other people; its hard to know what someone is going through under the exterior.

I have dealt with people who have been depressed due to family life, being unlucky in love, not being able to find work and people who genuinely haven’t worked out why they feel this way. As mentioned before, you will never be able to pick a depressed person out of a lineup, however, bearing this in mind we can work through this together to make life easier. During mental health awareness week, I tweeted about my issues and I’ve never felt so free it; to finally be open. Depressions job is to eat away at us, so don’t let it. Unleash your true feelings; even if you write it down and throw the piece of paper away- at least that’s a start.

Further recommendations:

  • Make use of my services. My service is real and relatable in comparison to someone who is talking from theories and studies. With my experience and knowledge, we will be able to make a strategic plan to be a better you.
  • Seek professional help. Contact your GP and they will be able to refer you.
  • Get reading. If you are not ready to talk to anyone about your feelings, a great start would be to understand your mind and how to tackle the issue:
    -Depression: A practical guide – The Flag Series by Dr Harry Barry
    -Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari
  • Stay active to keep your mind active. Whether you say yes to all social events or pick up a new hobby; don’t let depression know you’re sitting at home letting it get you.

For further assistance/advice on depression, please comment or click ‘Let’s Talk’.

Reference:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/23/number-university-dropouts-due-to-mental-health-problems-trebles