We are constantly bombarded with reminders about self-care and self-love that it already seems a bit over the top. How many times have you seen social media posts about having a bubble bath or giving yourself a dose of positive affirmations? As for me, it is not yet enough – and we should be getting more of this self-care and self-love; more so if we are struggling with mental health issues.
My key to managing my mental health is awareness and self-care. For me self-care is about taking action. It’s not always easy, but action is often the best form of distraction, for me anyway.
Of course, self-care is not always easy. For instance, I’ve spoken before about my disappointment that I’m on waiting list for DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) with an expected start date of January 2020. And for that I don’t blame anyone. There are far too many places to start and so much other priorities within health and society, but just because I don’t blame anyone or have the answer, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe change is needed.
In Sheffield this week it was announced that a new mental health unit will be opening, and although there were some words of encouragement, the majority have been complaining that it’s not enough; there’s only eight beds. I agree, it’s not enough, but it’s a step. And any step is a step forward.Of course we would like unlimited resources, but it’s just not the reality.
There have been many occasions I’ve felt that I require hospitalisation. I’ve never been sectioned or hospitalised for my mental health, but on many occasions I have felt the need to ‘check out’ for a time out before my suicidal thoughts became too overwhelming. Having looked at options, there’s nothing available unless your a millionaire or you seriously make an attempt, and I’m sure that has crossed many people’s mind.
There are days when I haven’t felt safe to control my medication and needed to sleep safely where all risks are removed and someone is taking care of my responsibilities such as my children and dogs. It does not have to be that difficult to check out on life and let someone set the pace, the routine, the regular medication, three meals a day, simple exercise and general chit-chat and conversation with others. You might as well throw in the option of a bit of therapy, whether talking or art.
It’s cliche to tell you that Rome (or London) wasn’t built in a day, and the campaigns that have run about breaking stigma and speaking out such as Heads Together are great and I think have started the ball rolling, but we all have a responsibility. I recently sat at 3am, anxious and unable to sleep. I had an idea. In two weeks I set up a well-being and mental health event in my community to raise awareness. We still managed to raise money and get the new Sheffield Mayor, Magic Magid, who is a bit of a superstar at the moment and our local MP, Lee Rowley, to come along and see that as a community we want change. You can read my blog on the event here.
I have bought books to self-process and take exercises, I jump at every opportunity when I’m well enough that is thrown my way, such as my work recently sending me on MHFA. It was hard but so rewarding and useful and gave me a great support.
I genuinely believe that more services should be available, that more help should be at our fingertips and we shouldn’t have to find it so hard. But I have found for me that taking action and trying to help my recovery as well as taking some control when I’m well enough, have really helped me.
Sarah Cardwell is a mental health blogger who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She has been under a mental health team since 1998. She is firstly a mother to her two daughters and wife to her husband. Family matters most to Sarah as not only did she lose her mother-in-law in 2009, her father-in-law in 2010, her own mother in 2015, and lost her best friend who took her own life in 2016. Sarah really struggled to know how deal with these emotions and bereavements. She loves her job as an Executive Assistant at Good Things Foundation, a social and digital inclusion charity. Sarah runs a blog and you can connect with her on Twitter @sarahcard2006