A lot of the time, people who ask me for advice have never had any help for their illness and so I suggest the following:
- Talk - talking is key. A lot of people don't like to talk about their mental illness because they feel ashamed or because they don't want to burden their family and friends. I strongly advise people to talk because bottling things up will cause more damage than good. The people who support you in your everyday life, love you very much and will want to support you through your illness. Please try not to see it as a burden. If you found out that a friend or family member was ill and they didn't tell you, you would've wanted to know and wanted to help them. I know it's scary, but please try to talk through your problems. I know if I didn't, I wouldn't be here today.
- See you doctor - If people have never sought any professional advice before, I suggest that they see their doctor to get on the road to recovery. Your doctor will have access to services and can refer you if need be. I know it's scary to talk to your doctor, but it's very important to do so. Remember that not all doctors are trained in mental health and the first doctor you see may not understand. Don't give up, see another doctor to see if they will be more understanding.
- Counselling - usually doctors will advise counselling as a first step. Here in the UK there is a long waiting list on the NHS, nevertheless it is important to sign up because the services they offer are really beneficial. You can also find other counselling services in your area, online. Counselling can allow you to get to the root of your problems and hopefully get you on your way to recovery.
- Lifestyle changes - I know lots of people recommend lifestyle changes, which I don't completely agree with. I feel that something simple as a lifestyle change cannot help people with mental illness and counselling and medication may be the way forward. However, little changes such as diet, exercise and yoga for example can all help in their own ways.
- Medication - medication for me was a final step. I had followed all of the steps I have just written and I was still severely depressed and anxious. I couldn't keep living the way I was. Although I didn't want to take medication in the first place, I am extremely happy I did because it has changed my life for the better. Your doctor will be able to help you with this and if at first the medication doesn't work, you can always try another.
Don't be ashamed. Be proud,