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It's your head

Updated Monday, 26th February 2007
Our survivor - who knows how it feels - offers the personal thoughts and strategies which helped him cope with mental health problems.

This page was published over 15 years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy.

A boy in his bedroom

  • Always remember you are not alone - there are thousands of people who suffer and live with mental health problems.
  • Don't think you're going mad or losing grip on reality - when your brain's not working, life is turned upside down.
  • Seek professional help. Mental health problems can be treated. Speak to your GP who can guide you towards therapy and medication. It’s been proved that therapy has helped lighten depression in many, many cases
  • Don't be reluctant to take medication - if you were a diabetic you wouldn't hesitate to take your prescription. We all take antibiotics - so why not take medicine for your mental health?
  • Depression is an illness - but it is self-limiting and can be effectively cured.
  • Talk: talk to your family and your friends - never be ashamed of having a mental health illness, as it is as common as any number of illnesses. There is still a stigma attached to MH - but this is beginning to disappear. Think of all the famous people who have publicly said that they suffer from manic depression - Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry...
  • Be kind to yourself - never feel guilty about being ill. Just because it is not a physical illness, it is still a serious illness. If you feel that you can't do the things you used to do, like go to the gym or the pub, don't worry. When your mind doesn't work, you can't expect your body to - but it will in time.
  • Don't feel guilty. Don't worry if you have time off work, or you can't see your friends, or you put on weight because you haven't the energy to go to the gym. It really doesn't matter. You're not well - but it is just a period in your life which you need to accept.
  • Don't despair. With the right support and treatment, even if you can't be cured you can find ways of managing your illness.
  • Listen to your body. If you are very tired, sleep. It's your body's way of dealing with the illness. If you have medication, expect to have some side effects; very often, they will subside. (You can always talk through any concerns with a doctor or pharmacist.) Your metabolism may become slower due to the illness and the medication, so be aware of this. When you have mental health problems, body image and self image can become really poor, especially if you put on weight. Try to remain positive - this isn't forever and you will come out the other side with a greater understanding about your mind and body.

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