10 Things That Help My Mental Health

More often than not, I struggle most days. I’m sure I pass for a normal adult. But sometimes I’m having a panic attack. Or every little noise makes me irritable. Every day has some amount of stress. The days I struggle with the normal stress are extra difficult. There are a few things I use as coping mechanisms to get me through most days. Sometimes I never leave my apartment and focus on a few of these things. I don’t think I could get by without this list. These are the things I need the most and sometimes don’t get enough.

1. Caffeine (Coffee/Tea)

It’s not uncommon for me to have several cups of coffee throughout the day. I’m trying to cut back by drinking tea in the evenings. As long as I get caffeine, I’m satisfied. Caffeine is a pain reliever. This is why I drink so much. If I’m not drinking coffee, I’m pills for pain relief. The pain is muscle aches. Hypertension. Even when I’m relaxed, I don’t feel relaxed. Caffeine doesn’t make the pain go away, but I don’t notice it as much. I also use the cup or mug as a barrier. I feel safer with that barrier between me and the world.

2. Quiet/Silence

Finding a quiet place is difficult sometimes. Noises don’t always bother me. On bad days, nowhere is quiet enough. Not even my home. Libraries are great if seats are open. Sometimes I must have my back to a wall to feel safe. Sometimes the ambience of a coffee shop is soothing. On the worst days, listening to other people talk is so irritating I can’t be in public. I struggle with friends who feel if I’m not talking that means I’m angry. Usually I need to warm myself up to interact with others. That usually takes a couple hours and a couple coffees.

3. Writing

Writing is one of my passions. I couldn’t survive without the written word. I can convey my thoughts and emotions in written form better than verbally. It’s my way to vent. I get all my emotions out. It prevents me from bottling up everything. It has also helped me work through many of my mental health issues. Sometimes comments from others going through similar situations is enough to help me stay positive. Sometimes writing fiction is a great way to escape. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I couldn’t write down my thoughts and feelings.

4. Human Interaction

When I say human interaction, I mean spending time with loved ones. My support system. I haven’t always had a support system. I never knew how much being close to others could affect my life. I get upset if I don’t talk to this small group of people every day. Their interaction, or lack of interaction, with me can determine if I have a good or bad day. Sometimes we may not speak or text. But we share pictures or memes and it reminds me they’re thinking of me. That thought alone is enough to pull me away from the darkness of depression.

5. Reading

Many people read to escape. They want to imagine a life different from their own. This is part of why I enjoy reading. It’s helps my mental health because it clears my head. If I’m reading, I’m not overthinking something or stewing in negativity. I can focus my mind on the story, and this alleviates my anxiety. This is especially useful if I read before going to work. It’s relaxing and helps prepare me for any potential stress. I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a book with me everywhere. I could go several days without reading but I always have a book with me in case I need it.

6. Walking

Any kind of exercising can help one’s mental health but not everyone is built to spend hours at the gym. I lose interest in anything over a half hour. When I was in better shape, I could do 45 minutes. Walking, however, is something I can do all day every day. I stopped using my car so I could walk more, and I enjoy every minute of it. Recreationally, I can walk for an hour listening to music from my smartphone. I walk to work or to coffee shops or wherever. It’s exercise and I enjoy it.

7. Staying Busy

When I start running out of things to do, I feel depression spinning its ugly head in my direction. Keeping myself busy with work or projects, even games, helps me focus. When I’m focused on a task or project, I’m not having negative thoughts. I’m less concerned about what may or may not happen. Just like prioritizing tasks, I prioritize my thoughts. Worrying won’t get the job done. I stay busy so I don’t have time to worry. But I don’t get so busy that I feel overwhelmed. I keep a balance between projects and fun. Sometimes my projects are fun.

8. Hugs

This is a difficult thing for me. Hugs are important for everyone. It helps one’s mental health overall. My problem? I don’t like other people touching me. I’ve worked on this over several years. Strangers should definitely never touch me. Acquaintances I’ll give a pass now and then, but I don’t go out of my way for hugs. The handful of people closest to me are the ones I accept hugs from without question. It’s taken me a long time to develop this. Even to allow myself to accept it from close friends. Overall, I don’t get many hugs. But when I do, it changes my world.

9. Photography

I’ve always had an interest in taking pictures. I recently acquired a new camera and I love it. I want to take pictures every day. I don’t know if it’s the task itself, or the act of creating something that makes my soul happy. I’m a creative person. I enjoy creating things. That may be all it is. Or maybe there’s something about photography that brings me more joy than other things. Regardless, it will always be a fun hobby and I recommend it to anyone looking for a creative outlet.

10. Sustainable Income

This is something no one thinks about until they don’t have it. I was unemployed for half of 2018. My mental health hit an all-time low during this time. Most people don’t think about how much financial stability affects their outlook on life. It was eye opening for me. It’s easier to find the good in the world when I happy to have food on the table and a roof over my head. No one can appreciate the small things in life until they no longer have the small things. Having enough money to survive with a little extra is enough. I don’t need all the money in the world. I only need enough.

All these things work for me and I recommend them to anyone looking for something that will help. I will caution that what works for me will not always work for someone else. Still, none of these things will hurt anyone if they try them. It costs nothing to try something you might enjoy.

The Silent Sands of Illness



This is a new rendition of a poem I wrote on my blog.

The Silent Sands of Illness

Spheres be fed the blackened beast,

For long to fill his gluttonous feast.

Not life itself could escape it’s grasp.

For death to all the plague they clasp.

Yet random the beast, it toyed it’s prey,

Amused with the game of chance to play.

Ally of time, it’s patient was astound.

Stomach growls the best around.

But who would have thought that the beast – himself,

Could make it’s prey place their hopes and aspirations into a shelf?

What will the prey be bound to do, to make it through?

The beast as it preys, acting as a bough,

A bough of illness.

Amused again by the game and a chance to play,

It’s patients were astound — astound,

by the growls of the beast’s stomach – the growls of the best around.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love, Francesca.

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The Wall of Silence

People are afraid to intervene with someone who is having mental health issues or is in crisis. Sometimes it is fear of the unknown and/or a fear of not knowing how to help. They do not know what to do or say, so they sometimes do and say nothing. Nothing and silence hurts, destroys, isolates, wounds and shames.

Silence forms a wall between the people who desperately need help and the people who could help. Silence builds a wall between illness and wellness. Silence creates a wall between life and death.

We should not fear helping people who have mental illness or are suicidal, we should fear what happens if we don’t help them. The lack of doing and saying nothing is not working. We need to help, We need to care. We need to love and support others. We need to talk about it. We need to listen.

We need to make beautiful noises. The silence is too loud.

Image result for silence is the most powerful scream


The Wall of Silence

The wall of silence trembles ferociously as it cries out in pain

and no one comes

no one answers

no one sees

no one cares.

The wall of silence shakes incessantly as it is shamed

from the stares,

the whispers,

the glares,

and the cruelty of their silent words.

The wall of silence

barricades,

isolates,

hinders,

scares,

shames,

destroys

and kills.

The wall of silence prevents

love,

unity,

acceptance,

compassion,

trust,

strength

and wellness.

Tear down the wall of silence by

talking about suicide and mental health issues,

sharing your story,

listening to others,

supporting and caring,

and accepting and loving EVERYONE.

~written by Susan Walz

Tear down the walls of silence by reducing the stigma of mental illness and suicide.

Image result for silence is the most powerful scream


One conversation can change a life.

Image result for suicide prevention month 2018

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

So, I will write and share a post every day during the month of September containing important facts, statistics and educational information about suicide and suicide prevention. The name of my campaign is called…

Remember in September.

Today, may be too late.

Prevent suicide yesterday.

Don’t let there be anymore “what if” or “if I only” yesterday statements.

Make your today never become a yesterday you will regret. 

Save lives. Talk about it. Don’t wait. Get help. Don’t let yesterday become too late.

If you have any stories or information about suicide prevention you would like me to share on my blog, please let me know. I would love to share any information you have. Thank you in advance for your contributions.

Together we can do this.

It takes a village…

and this wonderfully beautiful blogging community…

24/7 CRISIS SUPPORT

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Copyright ©2018 Susan Walz |myloudbipolarwhispers.com | All Rights Reserved

 

The Craziness of Mental Health

I’ve read about the mental healthcare systems abroad, some of the “things” that are available (like therapy) and thought a lot about ours.  I’m not suggesting that things are rosy everywhere else, but merely to reflect on the system we have here.  I live in South Africa and most of the laws and policies here are like Nelson Mandela authored.  We put the D in democracy and the humane into human rights, thereotically.  In practice, it doesn’t work that way.

For example, I once “trained” a group of women in a rural area in our country on the beautiful domestic violence act we have.  Thereotically the police can intervene, you can obtain a protection order, and again thereotically, be protected.  In your home.  In your house with your children.  They listened, dilligently took notes and smiled when I paused.  When I found their silence too much I asked why they weren’t talking / participating.  One of the older women stood up and said:  “The closest police station is at least 300 km away for most of us.  The court is even further.  And you’d be lucky if they serviced you on the same day, IF you have transport money to spare / get there.  We have our own act.  If your partner is threatening violence, we hang a certain item of clothing on the line, which means I need help.  The woman who sees it alerts others in the street, and we all come for “tea”.  We stay there, with endless conversation, until the situation is diffused. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  But that’s what really helps us”.

I kept quiet.  I was humbled by what these women went through and how they tried to help each other.  But that didn’t mean that they shouldn’t be helped more, and that resources and attention shouldn’t immediately be directed to make their lives better.  In the context of mental healthcare things are even more ominous.  There are people with chronic mental illness who died because they were dehydrated.  Yes, there were other factors, but dehydration?  Not being fed?  If I consider what it’s like to have mental illness and to die for these or ANY reasons just isn’t ok.  No matter how we try to dissect it.  If you don’t have the money for private health care (it cost me about 800 US Dollars for myself and my children on private medical aid per month) you will find that there aren’t any services that are responsive enough to cater for people with mental illness, no matter how ill they are.

For example, you can’t get into a psychiatric ward without being suicidal.  This based on my own and other people’s experience has meant that you need to have tried to commit suicide and required immediate hospitalisation / care.  Not if you were intending to.  No, preventative is nice.  We don’t (although there are a few attempts) have a sufficient suicide call in number for people who feel suicidal, or their families who are a concerned.  And I will not go onto describe the ambulance service, which as the rural women teacher taught me, is just not realistic in some parts of our country.   There are frequent drug stockouts, a lack of psychiatrists in the public health system and therapy is a luxury.

I have to face the reality of this system now.  I was retrenched and do not have the resources for private healthcare.  My psychiatrist costs $150 per session, my therapist $80 and private psychiatric hospitals (which are funnily still like jails) are thousands and thousands.  The implementation of our far-reaching mental healthcare act, like the domestic violence act is failing the people who it was designed to poetically protect.  And most people with mental illness do not in our country, have communities of support where they can hang the “I need help underpants” on the line.  We need to draw attention to the state of the system (or perhaps the lack of it), the way people with mental illness are treated and the services they are subjected to, and the not so silent genocide of people with mental illness in our country.  I intend to.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.