Hey, world! I’m back!!
I know you missed me dearly. I’ve just been thinking recently that I really enjoy having this space where I can share my thoughts. It’s so so cathartic, and the great thing is, that I might be able to help people whilst sharing my own stories.
So, here goes.
Earlier this year, around Christmas, I felt pretty stressed to say the least. To be honest, I’ve been stressed numerous times before about so many things, predominantly revision and exams. Progressively over the years, since AS levels, I became more and more stressed in different, new ways that I had never seen before. It first started off with panic attacks, palpitations and several breakdowns in front of my friends and family. Then, more recently came the lows. I had always been worried about exams, but this time around, I had it set in my mind that exams defined my life. And in my head, I had to just keep working, despite the fact that nothing was going in partly because I wasn’t giving myself any breaks. Even though I took evenings off, I hardly saw anyone. It took serious encouragement from my parents to see my best friend. Little did I know that what was ahead of me was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. So with what little revision I had done, I headed back to university. I had it in my head from numerous encouragements from my parents, that whatever happens, we will deal with it together. I am so so lucky to have extremely supportive parents. They are definitely the most amazing people ever, so I hope you’re reading this this, Mum and Dad!!!
Anyways, back to the story. I had made my way back to uni. I got back on Saturday evening and that week I had three exams: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. From that Saturday night, in fact, for two weeks before then I was having difficulty sleeping, but on from the Saturday night, I was unable to fall asleep at all. Like all attempts to shut off, were not working. From meditating, to listening to classical music, to having a warm shower. My housemate even told me to cook a banana in boiling water and drink that. That tasted bizarre lol, I definitely would not recommend that. But all in all, it was not a pleasant experience, not one bit.
Looking back now, sleeping way more and just being in a way better place mentally, I can honestly say, that that was one of the most challenging and painful experiences of my life. I felt like I had completely regressed after all the independence and maturity I had developed from my 2 years at uni and that I was stuck.
I just wanted to use this piece to firstly, despite the utter difficulties that experience gave me, to explain how thankful I feel, that I went through that and came out the other side. If that doesn’t show that there is light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t know what will!! The second reason why I wanted to share this piece, is just to give a few tips and ideas, if you are currently going through some sort of mental health battle at this point in your life.
So here are Louise’s 3 top tips, which have helped me, so I hope they help you!
1. Speak to someone
This might sound obvious, but sometimes the easiest thing is just to vent. Whether if it’s a friend, family member or even on an (anonymous) online forum! I can really recommend the ‘7 cups of tea’ app, it’s this great anonymous app, where there are both forums for particular mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, but there are also separate chats with anonymous ‘listeners’ who are their out of their own choice to listen to whatever you are going through at that point in time! Whichever person you choose to speak to, it feels great either way to off-load to someone, they can also nudge you in the right direction, like to go to a GP or to consider therapy.
2. Find yourself a cathartic hobby
Think about what you really enjoy doing, that one thing that helps you destress and clear your mind. I have friends who write poems, songs, spoken word pieces. I, personally love writing. It’s not until so recently that I’ve begun to publicise some of my thoughts on mental health. In fact, exactly a year ago, was the first time I shared a snippet of my life onto social media and I have never felt happier about that decision. The thought that my experiences can help even 1 person, is something I can treasure for a lifetime. A couple of other hobbies that really help me, are photography and in particular exercising. I got into kickboxing a couple of years ago, and at first it was this random activity we did at school, then I took it up in first year and loved it, I really think it helped me cope with my anxiety and developing depression. I have been doing it less this year, however, I still manage to get to the gym or play badminton when I can.
3. Empower yo’self people
Nowadays, there is such a pressure to be perfect. Perfectionism is definitely something I experience, always putting pressure on myself to do everything to the hundredth degree. Especially, as students(/teenagers), we are expected to: have 8 hours sleep a night, go to all of our lectures and seminars, have a solid social life, go to the gym three times a week, eat healthily, be looking for internships for the summer holidays, work incredibly hard, have experience in the field in which we wish to work in the future.
Can we all just take a second to think about this?? This is ridiculous!
There were definitely not these pressures on generations before us. With all these pressures to be perfect and be slim and toned, it is understandable why there has been such a rise in mental health issues, 1 in 4 people have a mental health illness, but does that include those who are not diagnosed? Realistically, it’s 4 in 4 people who experience some sort of difficulty in their life.
Back to the tip, despite all these stupid, ridiculous pressures we have on our life, we need to learn to love ourselves and notice how incredible we all are! Some ways you can do these are stick up motivational quotes all around your room. Here are a couple of my faves:
This last tip is definitely my favourite. Every morning and every evening, as soon as you wake up and before you go to sleep, you should say 3 great things you like about yourself. You’re probably thinking, what on earth? How is that going to help? By picking up those amazing things about yourself, you learn to love yourself. It isn’t easy at the beginning but, you’ll be surprised how easy it is by the 4th or 5th time of doing it.
Remember: You’re stronger than you think,