Andrew's story

Mental health can be a lonely place when you first start experiencing problems. It is very important to first speak to a doctor if you feel you might be having trouble with your mental health. Getting diagnosed is an important first step and then you can start talking about methods which can help.

  Once you have been diagnosed, I think it is important to do some research and look out for support groups in your local area and online. One of the biggest problems when your mental health is bad, is feeling alone and that you have no one to talk to. When my anxiety and OCD were at their worst, I had no idea for years about the support I could receive from the online community and how much better their support would make me feel.

  Three of the biggest things which can help mental health are: support, therapy and medication. For me the most important thing was cognitive behavioural therapy. It showed I was not alone and that I didn't have to let my mind control my actions. All three have played a part in my recovery and they helped give me the confidence I needed to implement the most important part; self help.

  Now when trying to reduce and get your problems under control, many things can help, but it is you who has to face your fears and stop your mind from dictating your life. Don't rush your recovery, it takes time. You will get more confident gradually and be able to stand up to it. Doing simple things like getting enough sleep, eating a little bit healthier and staying hydrated can make your body feel naturally more healthy and make you feel more energised. Exercising regularly also helps too. Some people find heavy exercise makes them feel more energised and helps to reduce their anxiety. If sometimes your anxiety can get bad during strenuous exercise like mine used to, start off with gentle exercise that can help you remain calm. Walking and yoga are forms of exercise that invigorate you without challenging your cardio as much as other forms of exercise.

  Keeping a diary is a good idea. It lets you express your feelings and get them off your chest. Also it is a good way to see the kind of progress you're making. Other techniques that I find helpful are things like writing, drawing and painting. Writing is my main therapeutic technique, but anything that needs your concentration like the activities I've mentioned, help take your mind off your worry and focus elsewhere.

The short term anxiety caused by standing up to it, can lead to long term freedom. I'd say that makes it worth it. Slip ups happen now and again and that's okay, just as long as you keep moving forward. You don't have to run, walking in the right direction can give you the confidence you need to stand up to your fears. You have the strength to get your mental health problems under control. Surround yourself with positive influences and try to make changes that can make your life less stressful and more healthy. It could make a massive difference and mean you get to live the life you want and deserve.