There are times in our life where we can really hit ‘rock bottom’. It can feel dark, desperate, and as though life will never get any better. This post aims to reach out to those who have suffered, or are currently in, the depths of despair, and depression. Do not give up hope!
First off, what is mental health? It is the equivalent of physical health; we all have it, and we all have a baseline.
We often use the term incorrectly and say something like: ‘I’ve got mental health’ which is incorrect. Either side of the baseline we either have ‘good’ mental health or ‘poor’ mental health, ie. We can be mentally well or mentally ill- just like with physical health.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being; it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Deterioration of our mental health can be triggered by situations (or people), or it can have no trigger (i.e. clinical depression).
N.B. You can have ‘poor’ mental health and still not have a diagnosed ‘mental illness’.
Is it okay to not be okay?
There are so many posts on social media that affirm how ‘it’s okay to not be okay’, and this is true. However, if we affirm that it’s fine to be mentally low, what motivation is there to make things improve? It is hard enough to find motivation to lift ourselves out of the depths of depression, so to have constant affirmation to accept it and embrace it can sometimes have a slightly adverse effect.
Where focus goes, energy flows
What you focus on, is what manifests. So, if we remain focused on how low and depressed, we feel, how dark and miserable the place is where we are, it doesn’t help a great deal! Instead, we should focus on wellbeing. Ie. Picture and imagine feeling well and lifted again. Think about the day when your pain and suffering will end… because it will.
Easier said than done, I know!
Pain is relative, and I personally think that emotional pain can be far harder to recover from than physical pain. When I was in hospital doped up with morphine in 2019, I was told I may never walk again. But, I never accepted this. Those that know me, watched, as I fought for my recovery and rose to the challenge, despite adversity.
As well as the physical pain, I had to embrace the fact that I had experienced the trauma of a psychosis. Again, I rose to the challenge, and my memoir ‘Catch Me if I Fall’ brought about my longer-term recovery and acceptance. I did not only put the chapter behind me, but I began to speak about it and break the chains of stigma.
However, I have never struggled emotionally as much as I have this past year, for a set of complicated reasons I do not wish to discuss (since I am aware who reads my posts). But there have been days when I really could not see a way forward and I have been to the darkest places I have ever experienced, so I am speaking from experience.
Speaking to those who have hit rock bottom
I would like you to imagine that you are at the bottom of a dark well. You are tired and exhausted and everything seems so hopeless. You don’t even have enough energy to look up and see the light. In your pit of despair and loneliness, you convince yourself that there is no way out and you are stuck. (I need you to visualise this).
Now, I can tell you that there is a rope that has been thrown down to help you, and you just haven’t seen it yet. You may not want to believe me or have enough energy to reach for it. That’s okay… you just need to know that it is there, dangling nearby in the dark.
It may take a day, or it may take a week, but you know the rope is there, and all you must do is reach out and touch it. Become aware that it is there, and then when you are ready, hold it. You can remain here for a while, but be aware, the rope is going to help. You have taken a huge step in the right direction.
Here for you…
Now the rope may be many things: friends, family or medical professionals who want to support and help you out from the well. But they cannot do this until you hold onto the rope and tug it. This is you taking some control and asking for help.
I don’t expect you to pull yourself up the rope by yourself, but if you look up you will see the light. You will become aware that there is an exit, and YOU can find it. You’ve already grabbed hold of the rope and tugged it – you’ve got this!
Try to fill your mind with thoughts of better times to come; imagine yourself smiling and laughing again and finding the happier version of you bathing in the sunlight and finding your purpose again. Use your imagination here. Change places with someone if it helps, but picture yourself somewhere, living life again, and laughing.
The only way is up
Now, I’m not going to break out into song, but… the only way is up! There are many people who have not been where you have been, and they have no idea of the strength it takes to even tug on the rope. So let me tell you, you are awesome!
Whether it takes a call to the Samaritans, or a close friend comes and holds your hand, you are NOT alone. You are going to feel worthy again, and you deserve to be happy.
For some, just grabbing the rope will pull them out of the hole and back to a better place, for others it may take longer. It may be that it takes a bit more effort for you.
Take another baby step: a conversation with a mental health specialist, your GP, or someone else. There is someone out there who is going to help you up the rope!
When you begin to see the daylight again, please, take the time to focus on your wellbeing. Look forwards and not back down the well. Walk away from it, and, perhaps, make some changes. Take up some exercise or other healthy activity. Listen to music, dance with the dog. Anything to get you moving.
Now make time to do something you enjoy. Whether it’s reading a book, going out for coffee, going to the cinema, or eating your favourite meal. You deserve it. You are a warrior to have pulled yourself out of that well!
Talking is good
One of the best things you can do is talk. Talk it out. There is always someone willing to listen.
I run a group on Facebook called Stamp on Stigma, where like-minded people try to help and support those who are struggling. We meet for coffee once a month at my café in Cromer. It’s a safe space to talk. It’s also good to listen and support others; I’m a firm believer this helps our own mental health to lift.
Here is a link to our Facebook group:
So, if you or anybody you know is really struggling, please share this post (there are share links at the top and bottom of the post). This may just help them find a way out from the bottom of their well.
Throw them a rope.
You are strong, you are worthy. You deserve not to suffer.
Baby steps turn into giant leaps.