According to national statistics, 1 in 4 people in the UK have or will experience mental health difficulties. That is a staggering number of people!
In my own life journey, I have been managing my own mental health difficulties since 2013. Before then I had symptoms of what I know now to be depression and anxiety, but was unable to conceptualise why I was feeling the way I was feeling. All I would ever ask was ‘What was wrong with me?’, and had no answers. I imagine this is something a lot of people go through, particularly for other young men who often times feel shame or embarrassment when talking about their feelings (and are at the highest risk of attempting suicide).
Luckily we live in a time where conversations about mental health are becoming more open, and are not met with as much stigma. But for those experiencing difficulties, talking about mental health in general isn’t enough.
For me, I was able to put a name to what I was feeling after seeking therapy in a local health clinic. I took a standard 12-week course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT for short, which allowed me to pin point the thoughts, feelings, and actions that were contributing to my declining mental health. I was able to take steps to change these, and have built myself a mental ‘toolkit’, to allow me to manage my depression and anxiety much better.
Of course I have had my ups and downs over the 5 years since my initial diagnosis, but there are things I have learned along the way to help myself through those bad times. Lifestyle factors play a massive role, particularly avoiding junk food full of sugar, getting regular exercise, and keeping to a good sleep schedule. I have never needed medication, but anti-depressants and other drugs can be life savers for those struggling with greater difficulties.
Just know that in any case, reaching out to a friend or loved one is not a weakness, and that it does get better. It may stick with you for the rest of your life, but you have the power within you to make changes, that will help you manage it, and live a better life.