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My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to post something on the forum about my experiences with my mental health and I wanted to get it all out and just be honest and vulnerable about these experiences because they're something that I don't want to feel like something that I can't talk about. So here I am, this journey that I've been part of for the past three or so years. But to put it into simpler terms, I have really bad anxiety and it took me almost all three of those years to actually realise that I need to talk to someone about this or else it's going to get worse. In those three years, I've experienced intrusive thoughts and just heaps of negative thought spirals. Which to have for three years straight, isn't healthy and it took me quite a while to realise that. But I wanted to talk about this experience and my own mental health journey. 

So to begin with, I've had intrusive thoughts. And, they are the worst to be honest. They tell you all of these things that you don't want to hear and all of these things that you honestly don't need to hear about. And make you believe them, normally most of the time. These intrusive thoughts are quite negative in my own opinion and actually quite scary. They make you feel horrible and they can twist anything from something you did in the past or something in your everyday life to make you feel like you are just a horrible person. I didn't really know what these thoughts were and didn't know if they were intrusive thoughts or not until I actually used the eheadspace service and from then, my suspicions were confirmed. They were intrusive thoughts. And since then, I've been trying to become more aware of the fact that I do have these thoughts and that they are just thoughts and no more and no less. But, some days. These thoughts can come back up and cause havoc but I know that I can get through them, because I've gotten through them before. 

That's pretty much the gist of it. But I also wanted to talk about my experiences with my anxiety. It's something that I've had for quite sometime but I feel as if it also fuels my intrusive thoughts. Recently, my assessments have been piling on top of one another and it causes so much stress and I've been caught in a negative thought spiral which leaves me open for the intrusive thoughts to creep up unexpectedly. But I wanted to see if anyone has advice about getting through intrusive thoughts, cause this is a whole forum of people that probably have advice. The forums have a more broad perspective rather than one clinician, you get what I mean? I also wanted to talk about strategies that I have to help with intrusive thoughts. I've collected these two and they've helped whenever I have these thoughts pop up and I learned them through services I've used. 

Strategy one: STOPP
S - Stop and have a think

- What is your mind telling you?
T - Take a few deep breaths 

O - Observe how you're feeling

- What are you feeling in this current moment?
P - Put things into perspective

- Is there another way to look at this?
P - Practice how to respond

- Talk to someone, schedule an appointment with your counsellor or therapist? 

 

Strategy Two: You are your own best friend

This one's helped me quite a lot. Tell yourself, what would I say to my best friend if they were going through something similar? Would you say what you say to yourself to your best friend?  Majority of the time, you realise that you're just being really tough on yourself. 

Thanks for giving me the outlet to speak my thoughts and feelings. And if you have any strategies don't feel hesitant to put them here. Smiley Happy

Re: My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

Hi @ApplesRoses , it's really great of you for sharing your experiences and own strategies in dealing with your intrusive thoughts! It will definitely help a lot of us on the forums so thank you! And I'm glad to read that after the years you've had with anxiety and intrusive thoughts, you've received help and have progressed in improving your mental health! Smiley Very Happy

 

Intrusive thoughts truly can be terrible and can make anyone's daily life difficult and frustrating. Your strategy of being of your own best friend is really interesting and definitely worth trying out! And I definitely agree that most of the time many of the intrusive thoughts we experience are just us being hard on ourselves. Smiley Happy

One possible strategy other people could use to avoid intrusive thoughts is going through a mindfulness full body scan which I hear is quite popular in mindfulness practices. It involves mentally running through one's own body systematically and paying attention to how each body part feels. It's definitely a practice that's good for beginners of mindfulness and is also easy to do anywhere! I hope this strategy could help others who are experiencing terrible intrusive thoughts! Smiley Very Happy


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Re: My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

Hey @ApplesRoses, thank you so much for sharing your lived experiences with your mental health with us! I particularly found your "STOPP" strategy really useful. I also have anxiety and yet it's only now that I've come across this strategy as a way to deal with my negative downward spirals! I will definitely try using this strategy should any tough times occur for me in the future. Thanks again! Smiley Very Happy

I also enjoy doing mindfulness body scans @drpenguin! Although, it did took some time to really get the hang of it as initially I would get bored and fall asleep ahahaha. But over time, I built up my concentration so that I would remain aware throughout the entire body scan to ensure I was getting the full benefits of it. I typically use the Calm app to do my mindfulness body scans. Do you use any mindfulness apps?

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Hope is just around the corner; you think it's not there when you first look straight ahead, but it actually is when you turn around

Re: My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

@Esperanza67 haha yeah even now when I try doing the body scans I feel a bit sleepy afterwards! Smiley Very Happy For me, doing the body scan when sitting in a chair helps prevent me from feeling sleepy and all haha. I've tried the free trial for the headspace app on my phone and it seems quite helpful, but it's also a bit pricey to pay for the full subscription. Once the trial is over almost everything is locked behind a paywall. I've never used the calm app before, how is it? is there a subscription fee?

Re: My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

Yep sitting upright can definitely help avoid you from feeling sleepy @drpenguin! The Calm app does have a subscription fee, but there's also another app called Smiling Mind which is also really good; plus all their modules are completely free!
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Hope is just around the corner; you think it's not there when you first look straight ahead, but it actually is when you turn around

Re: My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

@Esperanza67 ooh nice I'll definitely check that app out! thanks for the suggestion!

Re: My Experience with my mental health + Strategies to help yourself!

This is such a great post and one I can totally relate too @ApplesRoses so thanks for sharing!! 😊

 

I've started seeking professional help myself this year, and as you mentioned, it also took me years to realise I actually did in fact have anxiety/depression and really needed help. I always thought it was all in my head but then having it confirmed to me recently kind of changed this and made it more real (and scary). Just wondering how you felt when you reached out for the help and started to learn about your negative thoughts? I'm finding it pretty confronting and not really wanting to believe it at the moment. And did you find it really hard to break your negative thought cycle? Because holey shit am I struggling not to agree with those thoughts like I always have!! Like I'm sure you still struggle with it because I know how vicious it can be, but you seem like you have it more under control now? Just wondering how long it took you to really start seeing a change in your thoughts? Like did you find it hard to do?

 

I think it's amazing you reached out and got the help you needed and are sharing it with us on here because it's helping others for sure - I know reading your post just hit me and was so relatable and helpful so thankyou for being brave and sharing it!! 

 

I think the strategies you've put in place are awesome too and am definitely going to try them myself so thanks!! ❤