What do you even say anymore? ‘Keep going, hang in there, it will get better’? Whilst that all is absolutely true and definitely applies, I remember hearing stuff like that when I was at my lowest thinking ‘That’s easier said than done’ and ‘How would I even do that?’
I have been lucky — not because I suffer from depression, anxiety and OCD and it makes life sometimes unbearable — but because I have met the right people at the right time and therefor have been in therapy on/off for a decade.
But most people can’t afford therapy. And the waiting lines are irresponsibly long. A lot of people don’t have the network or the resources to get the help they need and deserve. Thanks, Tories, you bloody evil pricks.
I didn’t know what to say because I don’t want to say anything that feels condescending or impossible. And I’ve been trying to think of what would have helped me the most when I was so depressed I walked into traffic without looking.
So these are the main things I have learned from a decade of therapy and introspection that I hope could help you, if you can’t access the help you need. They won’t all help everyone. But if even one sticks, then maybe that’s a good thing.
1) There are a lot of other people going through the same thing. A lot of them have got through it and are sharing their experiences and knowledge — for free — on the internet. Google it. You’ll feel less alone and maybe you can learn from them how to deal with it.
2) ‘You can’t change your parents. You can only change your reaction to them.’ my therapist says this all the time. Most people will continue to attempt to get what they needed from their parents until they’re old themselves and it isn’t possible. But you can reframe your mind. You can stop expecting them to change.
3) Psychological development is usually ‘two steps forward, one step back’ because when your brain realises that it’s feeling better, it panics and hides in what feels safe and wellknown. Like a newly adopted puppy getting used to its new home, needing to hide under the couch whenever there is a new noise. It’s natural. Keep going. These steps backward will feel smaller and smaller.
4) Learn to say no to people and set boundaries. You’ll be scared that people will hate you and here’s the trick: THEY ACTUALLY MIGHT AT FIRST. A lot of people will. They’re used to you saying YES to everything so they now think you’re angry with them. But eventually, they’ll acknowledge that this is the new you and they’ll come back to you. Because they never loved you because of what you did for them. The ones that did, never loved you in the first place.
5) Forgiveness is key. Forgive yourself for not knowing how to handle the world and everything that surrounded you. It’s the good ol’ Good Will Hunting scene, ‘It’s not your fault’. Because It wasn’t your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.
6) You deserve to love yourself. You deserve to feel happy and to have good things happen. There might have been people in your life who, for whatever reason, made you feel like you didn’t deserve love or to be treated well. They were wrong. Even if you don’t feel like it or even if you don’t believe me, try speaking to yourself with kindness. Try telling yourself that you are amazing, kind, wonderful and worthy of love. Just try it.
7) If you can, write down your thoughts in a journal or record voice messages for yourself. All the things you want to say to other people, the anger, sadness, vengeful thoughts, get them all OUT of your system. Don’t send any letters. But write them all.
8) When I, age 17, told my therapist that I deserved to die because I was the worst person in the world, she said ‘Oh, what makes you so special?’ and I laughed so hard. I could easily think of twenty people worse than me. There was no logic behind my self-hatred.
9) Learn to breathe. So many anxiety attacks and scream-crying-into-a-pillow-moments and urges to self-harm have been stopped or minimised by deep breaths: breathe in for 7 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out for 8 seconds. REPEAT.
10) You are stronger than you think. You are stronger than you feel. You are exactly as strong as you need to be to get through this. Or you wouldn’t have made it this far.
I need to make it absolutely clear that I am not speaking from a professional point of view, I am not a therapist. This shouldn’t be a substitution for getting help. It’s just the key things that helped ME in MY therapy. It might not make sense to you and that’s also okay.
If you are able to get help, remember that finding the right therapist is like dating — you might have to meet a lot of different people before you find the one that’s right for you. None of this ‘I tried this once and it didn’t work’ bullshit.
I want to recommend great organisations that are fighting so hard to make everything better. @MindCharity and @YoungMindsUK are incredible.
Text GIVE to 82772 to give £5 to Mind UK and urge others to do the same.
Text YMYM00 and £x (replace x with the amount you wish to donate) to 70070 to donate to Young Minds UK. Donations of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5, or £10 can be made.
Most importantly, if you want to help people — not just with mental health issues but people in general — vote against the parties that want to make cuts in healthcare. This country (and a lot of countries) are struggling right now and the people who need help are not getting it.
But until we get out of this capitalist hellhole of a current political climate, DO hang in there, DO keep going, it WILL get better. I really, honestly mean that.