Sometimes, you don’t really know how well you’re progressing in your recovery, or how far you’ve come. You don’t really have anything to measure it against, and it’s hard to have an objective view of your own mental health. For me, I won’t think about how I’m getting better for ages, and it’ll suddenly hit me.
That just happened now, and prompted me to blog about it. I checked out BBC iPlayer to see if there were any other ‘It’s A Mad World’ programmes available, and noticed a couple of mental health related documentaries. I’ve just started with ‘Football, Madness and Me’. It follows three people with various mental illnesses, who take part in a football league where everyone has a mental health problem. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely gripped by the premise of it (I’m not the world’s biggest football fan), but I didn’t want to dismiss it too quickly. I also noticed in the blurb that one of the people featured had problems with self harm – something I’ve rarely seen in mental health documentaries.
I hope that self harm gets a fair representation in this documentary. I think it’s very often overlooked in mental health programmes, I haven’t seen or heard much about it for a long time. It’s a huge issue that affects so many people, and needs to be better represented. Not just because so many people suffer from it and could benefit from seeing others’ experiences, but also to help those who are recovered, but struggle with their scars. I myself have some significant scars on my arm and find it really hard to show them in public. If there was less stigma around it, perhaps I’d feel less self-conscious about them. Who knows.
Anyway. I’ve only watched ten minutes of it so far, and hearing about Hayley’s depression suddenly made me realise that I’m a million miles away from being depressed. It was almost a shock to me, I’m so used to having something… depression when I’m not anxious, or anxiety when I’m not depressed, and so on. But right now, I’m happy. I look forward to tomorrow. I look forward to a lot of things. I’m so, so far from the place I used to be in and I’m incredibly grateful for it.
Don’t get me wrong, those symptoms still need to be managed – I have to try to control my impulsiveness (generally!), keep my emotions in check and make sure I look after myself (plently of sleep, regular meals, not drinking too much, etc). And that’s something to always keep in mind with recovery… you can never just suddenly wake up one day, and be cured. You have to work at it, and mean it when you say you want to get better. You need to look after yourself, and try to do so with love and respect.
It’s a long road, and you will have relapses. You’ll have times where you thought you were getting better, have a low point and wonder if you’ll ever get there. You will. As long as you want to, really want to, and take proactive steps towards caring for yourself, you can get better. I’ll leave you with one particular technique that I learnt in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, called PLEASE MASTER. (Oo-er)
- PhysicaL illness (treat) – If you are sick or injured, get proper treatment for it.
- Eating (balanced) – Make sure you eat a proper healthy diet, and eat in moderation.
- Avoid mood-altering drugs – Do not take non-prescribed medication or illegal drugs. They are very harmful to your body, and can make your mood unpredictable.
- Sleep (balanced) – Do not sleep too much or too little. Eight hours of sleep is recommended per night for the average adult.
- Exercise – Make sure you get an effective amount of exercise, as this will both improve body image and release endorphins, making you happier.
- MASTERy (build)
- Try to do one thing a day to help build competence and control.