By Ella Thwaites | @ellathwaites_
Living with Mental Health Issues is a five-part written series which gives you an insight into life with mental health issues and how this affects different areas of your life.
Part 1: Living with Mental Health Issues: Education & Career
Part 2: Living with Mental Health Issues: Romance
Part 3: Living with Mental Health Issues: Friends
Part 4: Living with Mental Health Issues: Family
Part 5: Living with Mental Health Issues: Conclusion
Struggling with a mental health issue is often a long and arduous journey, one that can negatively affect a person’s life in ways they might never imagine. In this series, I have explored those negative effects being that my life has been hugely altered by my struggles with mental illness.
In terms of my own battle with anxiety and depression, I have an inclination to focus on the things I’m not doing rather than the huge steps I’ve already taken. It’s been a long 4-year crusade and although I’m not quite at the point I would like to be, I am miles ahead of where I was even just a few months ago. So, in order to remind other people to focus on their success rather than their failures, and to remind myself to be proud of how far I’ve come, I thought it best to reflect on my journey.
At the height of my anxiety, leaving my house was an absolute nightmare and more times than not it was something I refused to do. Now after multiple attempts at counselling, a barrage of various coping mechanisms and a sheer determination to not let my mental health get the better of me, I am able to leave my house. Although it still takes a maximum amount of effort from me and sometimes it’s utterly exhausting, at least now it’s something I can manage.
I’ve gone from being housebound and crying in bed all day to taking short walks on my own, going to parties, hanging out with my friends until god knows what hour, visiting my family, travelling out of the town I live in, and even braving my first night out since I turned 18 two years ago. I know for the rest of my life anxiety is something I’ll be at war with but I also know I have the determination to cross every hurdle I come across. It’s not about how far I have left to go, it’s about how far I’ve already come and that’s further than I ever imagined.
It’s often hard to gauge just how far you’ve come in terms of your mental health because recovery isn’t black and white. It’s a scale and it’s completely normal for people who are struggling to slide across this scale day to day. When you’re recovering it’s imperative to remember that there WILL be setbacks but that doesn’t mean you’re back at square one. Acknowledging your defeats and learning to turn them into a lesson will make recovery so much easier. In this day and age, we have gotten into the terrible habit of comparing every negative aspect of our lives with the positives of others but this can only ever hinder us. Focus on your own victories and use those to spur you forward.