A Practical Guide to Surviving a Mental Health Crisis – Part 2
Tim’s survival guide continues with her top suggestions on what to do when you can’t do life, and things that might help get you back on track.
Now that you’ve attended to your basic health needs with help from part 1, which covers practical tips for getting by day-to-day. I’ve compiled further ideas focusing on improving mental and emotional wellbeing. I hope that one or more of these tips would be at least mildly helpful towards helping you feel better and start doing the whole life thing again.
Distractions are good temporary coping mechanisms
Books, films, games… whatever works for you. Whether you’re using them as a form of escapism or you want characters and stories that you can relate to when you’re feeling your absolute worst, they can help lighten the load. Some things that have helped me recently:
- Anime: I love watching handcrafted 2D characters when I’m in a bad place. I escape into alternative worlds where all kinds of creatures collide in genre-defying universes of mystical adventures, world-saving battles and peaceful daily coexistence. Dark times require light hearted content and my recent favourites are Mushisi, Humanity Has Declined and Girls’ Last Tour. Also see Mikael’s list for some proper binge-worthy stuff.
- Books: My favourites are mystery novels. I grew up with stories of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. The suspense and who-is-the-killer aspects manage to keep my lethargic brain engaged and guessing no matter how many times I read them, giving me some much-needed mental exercise.
- Web comics: I recently discovered Webtoon and Tapas, and they’ve changed my life. There are so many genres, but I’ve found the comedy and slice-of-life genre particularly helpful and comforting. Many of the artists on these two sites are paid for their work, so binge in peace knowing that you’re helping fund creators just reading comics on your phone in bed.
Whatever it is that you’re hooked onto, do remember that they are only temporary solutions. Be careful not to become too reliant on them, and stick to the important points in part 1.
Throw yourself a pity part… (with a time limit)
Sometimes we just need to let ourselves wallow in our pain and suffering for a bit. I’ve been letting myself just exist and accept the negative feelings I have, and really allowing myself to fully express them in extremely unproductive ways. I recommend setting yourself a time period, be it one day or two days or a week, so you don’t accidentally end up spending years in misery. And whether you need to sleep for whole days, write a 20-page rant on everything bothering you, a good cry or several good cries… let yourself do it. Don’t hold back, let go of those feelings of guilt and go absolutely full out. There’s truth in what William Blake said: You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough. Put more than enough time and energy into this pity party, and then at the end pick out the things that you feel would be useful in smaller dosage and start putting your life back together again.
Self-help guides and inspirational stories
I know, I know, it sounds cheesy. But practical and realistic guides could be an extremely useful start towards improving your mental health, or even lifesaving. Knowing stories from people who go through similar experiences could just be that one last push you need to get yourself back on your feet.
- A TED talk by Andrew Solomon on Depression, as well as interviews with Winona Ryder and six-time U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Allison Schmitt on their mental health struggles completely changed my view on mental health, for the better.
- My favourite books with themes of mental health – Hyperbole and a Half and Furiously Happy gave me knew found strength through their raw and devastatingly optimistic writing.
- If words feel too overwhelming at times, I look to films that understand mental health. My favourite so far is A Beautiful Mind (2001), which is a very beautiful and honest portrayal of schizophrenia.
- I go to the Sad Ghost Club for when I am in dire need of quick fixes that cheer me up in illustration form.
Hopefully this guide has been useful, and you’re able to work through the rough periods of your life. Ultimately, it’s important to find your own pace and things that work specifically for you. I find it beneficial to gather motivating and inspiring tips and put them somewhere easily accessible. For example, I have a list of all the self-help guides on my desktop, ready for whenever my mental health goes downhill. There are also many Bristol mental health charities that offer different kinds of support, so make sure to have a look and contact them too, especially if you’re on your last legs. You deserve encouragement from others and most importantly your own support for yourself.