When suffering from anxiety, depression or another mental illness, there’s one thing you get a lot of. Advice.
Be it welcome, well-meaning, or neither, people like to give their two-cents worth.
I’ve received my fair share, some advice that has helped change my life, other advice where the person was lucky to not receive a bitch-slapping! Coming from those who have never suffered, advice on mental health related matters often misses the mark. At worse, it can lead to added mental scarring and cause lasting damage to relationships.
Here’s a collection of insightful tips for people with a mental illness.
These are tips from people who have been there. People who have suffered from a mental illness. People who have made it through to the other side. People who have supported others. And people who are still fighting.
This is both for the sufferers and for those who know someone. Because the likelihood is you are one or the other. That’s how prevalent mental illnesses are.
* Thank you to everyone who providing amazing mental health tips. You guys are amazing!
- Remember: You are never alone. There are others out there doing it tough too. And they have survived!
“You are not alone.”
- It’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe. Celebrate the small things. Some days I celebrate getting out of bed and moving to the couch.
- Being told that I’m not alone. That what I was/am experiencing was what others experience. That normalised it for me – Stephen @
- Some people will never understand what you are going through. Some may even say it ‘doesn’t exist’ or to ‘get over it’. Try not to take it personally. They simply don’t understand. They may never understand. Try not to focus on it as it will eat away at you like a cancer.
- Shop around for a good councillor. Someone you have rapport with. Someone who gets you and, most importantly, who you feel comfortable with. Don’t settle.
- You are not lazy. You are not weak. You are not a freak, weirdo, sad-sack, sensitive soul, or irrational person. You are you. Don’t listen to the naysayers.
- It’s ok to remove toxic people from your life. What they say about you after that happens is none of your business, it doesn’t serve you – Tegan
“I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s there to be ashamed of? I went through a really tough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.” — J.K. Rowling
- Learn to say no. If something isn’t sitting right with you, ask yourself ‘why‘ you are feeling that way. It could be because your body and/or mind is trying to tell you something! Take my career in project management, for example. Now that was a bad career move for someone with chronic anxiety even if I was good at it! It was not good for me.
- It’s true what they say. You can only help others when you help yourself. Self-love is a very important thing – and it isn’t selfish, no matter what anyone tells you.
- Practice kindness on yourself! Even if you aren’t feeling the self-love, crank out the positive affirmations and start talking to yourself nicely. Trust me, it gets easier the more you do it.
- Learn to practice and prioritise self-care. It’s a critical life skill, something many of us suck at! Self-care is essential to surviving and thriving. Here’s 64 ideas to help you make a start.
- What helps one person may not work for you. There is no ‘one size fits all’ or ‘one solution fits all’. So keep trying different things until you find something that works for you.Working out. Yoga. Meditation. Mindfulness. Green Juices. Vitamins. Gluten-free. Quitting alcohol. Changing careers. Medication. More sleep. Less sleep. Here’s some things that help me manage my anxiety and panic attacks.
- Sleep first – Suzannah
- Sometimes a hug or sitting in silence with a person next to us is all we need.
- If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. Text. Message. Send an email. Pick up the phone. Someone cares. They’re waiting to hear from you. A simple text message may make the world of difference!
- Recovery IS possible. I know you don’t believe it, but it is.
“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.” Stephen Fry
- You can’t control other people and how they react so don’t take it on board. You can only control your actions and reactions – Shante
- Relapses happen. Once again, recovery is possible. If you went through it once, you can do it again.
- Educate yourself. Train yourself to recognise the signs and triggers. Learn to protect yourself from them, and to put steps in place early to prevent or minimise any relapses.
- Own your story. Be proud. You are a survivor EVERY DAY.
- Look after yourself physically AND spiritually. We are not slaves to our emotions. All that we are is the result of what we have thought so it is important that we guard our hearts and minds so that we don’t think toxic thoughts – Joh
- Be cautious of stimulants. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, drugs. What effect do they have on your mind and body? They can al be depressants (aside from also being addictive).
- Don’t take yourself off of medication (i.e. antidepressants) or decrease your dosage without consulting your GP and doing it in WITH them (or at least telling them). This can be incredibly dangerous, firstly, for your own mental health. Secondly, because you will experience withdrawal symptoms that aren’t pleasant. Thirdly, because you could relapse / have suicidal thoughts.
“Stay strong. Depression lies.” Will Wheaton
- The first antidepressants I ever took gave me this things I call ‘brain jolts’. After chatting with my GP I came off of them. Unfortunately my depression came back with a vengeance and a few years I went back on antidepressants – this time insisted on a different type. I went through two weeks of nauseating hell after I started the antidepressants I’m on now. After that, I levelled out and am still on them years later.
- It’s okay to take medication. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Some of us need it to get through the darkness. Some of us need it for life. Look at it like someone who has diabetes or high blood pressure. They take medication to stay well. To live. Never be ashamed!
- Surround yourself with positive shit. Cartoons. Inspirational quotes. Happy people. Comedy series. Take in what you need and shut out what you don’t (this includes avoiding things like the news and gossip).
- Allow yourself to have a mental health day every now and then, even if that translates to a couch day. And don’t feel guilty about it.
Here’s some added inspo to help you nurture your mental health:
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If you or someone you love needs help regarding depression and you are based in Australia, check out the following organisations for further information and assistance:
- Lifeline 13 11 14 (National 24/7 Crisis Services – Australia)
- Talk to a GP or health professional
- beyondblue: the national depression initiative 1300 22 4636 or www.beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute www.blackdoginstitute.com.au
Health direct Australia www.healthdirect.gov.au/anxiety-symptoms-and-signs