When it comes to mental illness, everyone has their own ideas of what count as healthy or unhealthy coping mechanisms. In this interview extract, @Social_Anx, a Twitter page sharing thoughts and anonymous submissions about social anxiety, tells me their personal account of how they cope:
“Some of the things I classify as unhealthy habits I might at other times class as healthy. For example, in the past I found it impossible to go into a shop, pick up an item and go to the counter to pay for it. I would either get my mum to pay on my behalf, or I would walk out of the shop empty-handed. The only way for me to overcome this was by actually doing it – at first with someone I trusted at my side, and eventually I was able to work up to doing it completely alone.
It would have been unhealthy to have consistently relied upon my mother to help me. But sometimes you need to be easy on yourself. If you have already overcome five different hurdles that week, and you’re feeling tired and fragile and on the brink of giving up… just stop. You don’t have to face every hurdle all at once. Say to yourself, “I have done a lot to be proud of and I’ve worked hard to get better. But now it’s time for me to look after myself for a minute.”
I like to surround myself with people I love and trust, to act silly and laugh and give myself time to do things which don’t require a ton of thought. It took me years to learn that consistent exercise really does help. There are days I feel so down or anxious that the most prevailing thought is, “Just go to bed. Go to sleep. Give up.” I’ve been routinely lifting for several years, and by the end of a session, no matter how little motivation I had at the start of it, I feel lighter, less anxious, stronger and a real sense of accomplishment.”
Read more of this interview: ‘Remove the Blame’: Interview on Social Anxiety & Mental Health | “Stay Away, It Might be Catching” | (more coming soon)
How do you cope with mental illness?