How to survive university, your social life and your hospitality job in the company of your mental breakdown

 It’s March now, and after battling through the worst part of Winter I know that those of us out there that struggle with our mental health will be feeling worn down after months of dark mornings and nights, bone-cold weather and a severe lack of Vitamin D.

It is usually around this time of year that my mental health starts to repair the damage done, but it seems that this time round I am making a gradual descent into territory I’ve not been in for at least seven years.

It’s always a concern when the grip on your own mental wellness starts to slip, but what is even more of a worry is when it’s happening as an adult while you have a job and responsibilities. The balanced and busy life that I worked hard to create in order to cushion my mental health has heaved itself into a nightmare dream scope instead. I am used to warding off the advances of depression and anxiety, but the hallucinations and invasive thoughts of a teenage me have returned to stir trouble in my life.

I’m used to throwing things up in the air and seeing where they land, it’s actually how I prefer to get by in life, but finding myself with a constant monologue of Shakespeare’s Hamlet running through my mind and a new hallucination that I am forming attachments to, it has become a dangerous way to live. Everybody has their way of coping when their mental health takes a bad turn, but how do you survive when your coping mechanisms are making things worse? University, my work, my friends and my various creative projects have always been my saviour, they keep me busy and distracted and have kept me focused enough to maintain control over my mental health, now that I am unwell the thought of a day at work or a large social gathering puts me on edge, and I know I’ll be recovering for days afterwards. Recently it has become bad enough that after a busy day I’ll sit in my room and speak to my hallucination, George – it has not been easy to accept that this comforting coping technique is making me worse.

For me the most difficult thing in the world is talking about it and admitting things have gotten out of control. Even when I do tell somebody, my reaction is to instantly shut down and act as if everything is now fine because I brought it up once. Friends and family are one of the best resources we have, and for me it took my friends telling me that they had serious concern for me to decide to do something about it.

I have my first adult therapy session next week, and while for me this feels like the furthest thing from getting better, I recognise that it’s because I’m uneasy – the systems I put in place have let me down for the first time. The first step to surviving while in the throes of a mental breakdown is to admit to yourself that you don’t always know best, and sometimes you have to trust the words of those closest to you over what you think you know.  It is scary to walk onto uncharted territory, but it doesn’t make you any less strong just because your mind needs something different this time.

Trust yourself, trust your friends, trust your family, but most of all, be brave and do whatever it takes to help yourself heal.

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