So when you’re feeling on top of the world it can be relatively easy to stay on top of your mental health as well but what happens when something out of your control comes along and knocks you sideways, how are you supposed to cope?
I wouldn’t be surprised if a considerable number of people suffering from mental health issues have some sort of other health issue as well. I personally have ulcerative colitis and I know when it flares up it definitely becomes tougher to hang onto that positive attitude which is so important in mental health recovery.
If you’re feeling generally tired/low it can be hard to find the energy to eat well, exercise or go out and see people. If you’re unwell you might not even be able to do these things for yourself at all and through no fault of your own you can start to spiral downwards. This has happened to me on a number of occasions and it really can turn into a vicious cycle if you’re not careful.
I feel low – I eat badly – my stomach problems flare up – I feel lower – I don’t want to go anywhere – etc etc
and so I spiral down and down and the weight of it all just starts to devour me.
I’ve also learnt recently with my research into serotonin that digestive issues can effect the absorption of serotonin into the body. So during a bad ulcerative colitis flare up this could be another factor affecting my mood and therefore recovery which I hadn’t considered before. Looking after yourself is so important, particularly what you eat – but I realise not always easy.
So if you’re unwell and unable to get out and do all the usual fixes – exercise, socialising, etc what do you do to keep/get yourself back on track?
Well I definitely think it’s worthwhile having a think about this sort of situation before it actually occurs – if you can of course – and getting a plan of action in place. Have a think about what you enjoy doing that is possible in the house, here are a few ideas:
- Invite someone round
- Phone someone who you enjoy talking to
- Watch your favourite series
- Read a favourite/new book
- Listen to music/podcasts/audio books
- Use a mindfulness app
- If you’re creative you could draw/write/blog
- Do your very best to avoid high sugar, quick fix foods such as takeaways, alcohol and caffeine.
If you have less time to plan and something has literally come from nowhere – maybe you’ve broken your leg – then try not to panic. You may be fine, try to be calm and think about how you can set things up to work for you. Long periods alone can be pretty tough to deal with for anyone but incredibly difficult for people with mental health problems, especially when you’re trying to process pain/discomfort as well.
Try to fill the time productively if you can, this always makes me feel more positive and like I’ve achieved something. Accept that you will probably have low points but that they will pass.
Remember recovery is an ongoing process, some days will be better than others. Maybe you could blog about your experience, get it all out. This can be incredibly cathartic and no one else has to read it, it can just be for you. If you do want to share your story perhaps it will help someone else in the same situation. Now that will definitely make you feel good.
As always, Stay Strong xxx