A message of hope, from your pal
I hope that as you are reading this you are in a place of happiness, but if not, that is ok. You are not alone and you never will be.
Things might be far from perfect, but always remember that you are enough. A few years ago I was in a very dark and sad place. I went through the scariest and most difficult period of my life.
I was sectioned for over three weeks because of an acute psychotic episode. This was triggered by a break-up, but I was also being hard on myself for not achieving my personal goals at the time, things like owning a property and getting promoted at work became unhealthy obsessions.
I had to take some heavy medication - including clonazepam, olanzapine and sodium valproate. I continued taking these drugs when I got out of the psychiatric ward, and they slowly helped me get better.
Thankfully I am now over the worse of it and am currently living a much happier life. I am still on medication (quetiapine), but I choose to take this because I know it will prevent me from becoming unwell again. I also attended cognitive behavioral therapy which helped me so much. Almost every session included tears, but the release was just what I needed and it made me a better person.
The reason I am telling you these things is because I want you to know that even if you hit rock bottom, you can turn it around. The thing with rock bottom is that you discover the solid, unbreakable, courageous part of yourself that will never be beaten, and you can build on that foundation and make it even better than it once was. You might be hitting the reset button, maybe more than once, but trust me, you will build something to be proud of.
Life can be hard, but life is also very precious. Try and surround yourself with people who make you happy and make you laugh out loud.
I do not regret becoming mentally ill, because it took me on a journey that has eventually transformed me into the best version of myself.
Self-care and self-awareness are so important. If you think you need help, always seek it. If you think you can help someone else, be there for them, it might even save their life.
Try not to compare yourselves to others. We are all so beautifully unique as individuals, and your journey is completely different to everyone else’s. Embrace your imperfections, your weirdness, your everything.
Try not to be hard on yourself, you are not your thoughts. It might feel like your mind is a storm at times, but this will pass, the sunshine is closer than you think.
You might even be healthier than ever right now and that’s fantastic. Never take your wellbeing for granted, do your best to preserve it. I unfortunately had to go through a relapse at one point, caused by a mistake in taking my medication, but also by trying to do too many things that resulted in stress and eventual breakdown.
There are loads of coping mechanisms out there and I can tell you that some work really well for me. I do plenty of yoga, I try to do meditation when I can, and exercise is often my saving grace. Running, cycling, swimming, and playing football are things that work wonders for my brain. Your best bet is to try as many new things as you can, then you might discover a passion that changes your life.
I hope you have found my little letter helpful, wherever you are.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for being you.
James, 31, from Hertfordshire