I’m passionate about looking after your mental and emotional health
and today, October 10th 2022, is #WorldMentalHealthDay
and it’s important to talk about it.
I haven’t blogged for a while, I was busy writing, editing, procrastinating – a lot – and struggling with a both new meds, and a new puppy… the puppy is gorgeous and not really a struggle, but she is hard work, lol!
So, I thought I’d break cover and share what helps me look after my mental health.
I’m autistic and, along with many other physical health issues, I’ve suffered with anxiety and panic disorder, suicidal ideation, self-harm, ARFID, and intrusive thoughts. It feels vulnerable to list them like that, but removing the stigma of mental health issues and being able to talk about them is imperative.
I was misdiagnosed for decades, but also received some excellent counselling by some lovely counsellors, along with the odd iffy one.
I’ve gone through many medications, some that worked some that didn’t. Antidepressants were a first option for many GP’s, but most just masked my autistic burnout, which wasn’t diagnosed until I was fifty.
Two that have and are working for me are Propranolol, a beta blocker, which helped prevent panic attacks and anxiety.
And Venlafaxine, an antidepressant which is geared towards anxiety. Venlafaxine has finally given me ease in my life and makes me feel more ‘normal’ than I have done in decades.
It’s important to accept that meds can really help mental health and can become a very effective treatment in your life, and there should be no shame in that. I’m happy to remain on Venlafaxine for the long term if I can.
Other things that help me are in the photos… I carry acorn cups with me everywhere, they are in all my pockets and bags! I smooth my thumb inside them to keep me grounded and to help prevent overwhelm. I need the sensory interaction. I use lots of sensory aids, soft toys to hug and stroke, a wooden carved acorn, conkers, palm stones, and more to hold and smooth in my hands.
I wear a sunflower lanyard if I feel overwhelmed or panicky, on that lanyard I have a soft squirrel, my wooden acorn, a description of my issues, and my Loop ear plugs. Ear plugs are a huge help in public places where it’s too noisy and they help to prevent meltdowns.
Nature is a big help to me, getting outside into the forest or down by the sea can calm and ground me. Searching for acorns, conkers, leaves, shells, sea glass, and pebbles will always make me happy. Dog walking is a life saver!
Pets are a great influence, stroking an animal is known to reduce mental health issues and to help us feel happy. Looking into a dog’s eyes can give you the same feeling as falling in love!
I also use writing, reading, painting, making crystal grids and other creative pursuits for time to escape reality, to meditate, and be mindful.
And lastly, treat yourself… my go to treats are chocolate and hot chocolate… even when you don’t feel worth anything, a bar of chocolate, a box of chocolates, or a hot chocolate topped with cream can make you feel much better!
If you’re struggling, and many of us are right now, see your GP. I know how difficult it is. I know how it feels to not feel worthy to take up space on a waiting list for counselling, but do it. Mental health help is getting better, slowly, but it is. Understanding and compassion is getting better, and more people are accepting and working to understand how those with mental health issues feel. There may be a wait for help, but take that first step, you truly are worth it.