My own personal experiences during my Mental Health recovery.

I always find it hard to decide what I should write about next. I put the question out to my Instagram followers (@mr_f_82), and this was the one I chose. A friend of mine asked if I could write about this topic. He was interested to know about my experiences and challenges throughout my Mental Health recovery. I will break down the subjects he mentioned and talk about my own personal experiences. I am not saying these are the right or wrong things to do, but they are the things that have worked and not worked for me.

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Therapy

Firstly, I have suffered from mental health problems since my early-late teenage years (I’m 36 now). Over these years I have had therapy sessions with several different psychotherapists/ counsellors. I guess the truth is a couple of things:

  1. I didn’t click with them or feel like we had a connection which was trusting enough for me to spill all about my personal life.
  2. I was just not ready to accept I had a mental illness, let alone seek professional help for it.

When I had a severe mental breakdown a couple of years ago, I attempted to get help via the NHS. They proved to be as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike!

I was told by the therapist that “You’re problems are too deep rooted and I feel that with the 6-8 session provided by the NHS, we wouldn’t even scrape the surface of your problems.”

Nice. So I’m on my own then?…. Again…

At this point I wasn’t ready to give in (again), and give up hope of seeking help. This time I actually wanted to recover. I accepted something wasn’t right with my Mental Health and I needed help now, more than ever. The anxiety and depression was at a point in which, I seriously considered suicide as the only way to make it stop. Something deep within, was not prepared to give up yet though.

So long story short, I reached out to a local psychotherapist and arranged an initial consultation. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about her, but I instantly felt at ease and comfortable in her company. I felt myself wanting to let go of all these feelings and emotions. She is the only person on the planet who knows absolutely everything about me. Not even my partner knows what she knows!

Ok, so I’ve had to pay her for our weekly session privately for the last two years, but in my mind it isn’t a cost. It is absolutely priceless and the best money I have ever spent! I will continue to see her as long as I see fit. Our weekly sessions are now down to fortnightly sessions, which is great. But just going to see her for that one hour session and chatting about anything I want (no matter how meaningless is may feel), is worth it’s weight in gold.

If you are questioning therapy in any way at all – My advice is don’t even think about it. DO IT! I promise you it will help more than anything else in this post.


Diet

This was a tough one for me to try and crack. Even now I am not 100% confident I eat the right types of food. My diet was a disgrace. There’s no two ways about it!

Sometimes I’d eat 3 or 4 take aways a week. Meals would mainly consist of pre-cooked/ย  ready meals containing extortionate amounts of calories! I’d binge on sweets, chocolate, crisps, multiple bowls of cereal (covered in sugar), etc, etc … You get the point? Complete crap basically!

I found out that it was called “comfort eating”. Because I haven’t smoked or drank alcohol in several years, I had no release. For many years I smoked marijuana (almost constantly) to try and hide the torment inside my overactive mind. If I smoked or drank enough, I could at least black out and forget life for a while. That’s how I honestly felt. Little did I know, how much of a negative impact that would have on my mental health. It didn’t help for me, at all. It just acted as a temporary fix for my deeper rooted problems.

Anyway, if I was feeling stressed, anxious or even depressed, then I would turn to food. If I felt like shit I would destroy a few bars of chocolate without even realising. Ok it wouldn’t make me feel any better, but it would certainly take the edge off it all for a short while. I discovered this kind of weird obsession with food because I didn’t have any other releases.

About 8 months ago I hired a personal trainer who has been another godsend to me. Not only has he helped with my physical and mental health (which i will talk about later), but he’s also helped with my diet. The last 8 months he’s kept it fairly straight forward for me. No fad diets or fasting bullshit. I have simply stuck to a calorie counted diet.

Don’t quote me on this, but I think the average male should consume approximately 2000 – 2500 calories per day. All my PT told me was to reduce my intake to 1700 – 1800 per day. He also recommended I kept a food diary to log everything I eat. I use an app called MyFitnessPal (but there are obviously others available). This has been a vital tool in my weight loss programme! It made me a lot more conscious of what I was putting inside me. I now pick things up in the supermarkets and instantly look at the calorie content. If it’s too high, it goes back on the shelf. I wouldn’t say I have turned into a rabbit and only eat lettuce, because I don’t. I am just a lot more aware of my daily limits. I didn’t eat a take away for about 7 months! This for me was huge. Now I reward myself every month with a “cheat meal” which I savour. Then the next day I am straight back on it again.

I dread to think how many calories I consumed before! Thousands!!!


Exercise

I have written a post about my exercise programme before, and explained how it has been my new found medicine.ย Well that opinion hasn’t changed one bit!

When I was weighed back in May 2018, I was a staggering 135 kg. When i read those numbers I was literally disgusted with myself. I could not believe the mess I had got myself into. I won’t lie, but this made me feel extremely suicidal. I didn’t see any way back from this state I had gotten myself in. It was fair to say, I’d hit rock bottom!

But, again there was this little voice inside me (which I know I have mentioned already), telling me that I can’t give up yet. I don’t know who or what the voice was, but it was telling me to fight. Because if I didn’t fight it, then nobody else would do it for me. So fighting was exactly what I was going to do!

So once again, with the hiring of my personal trainer came improvements to my diet and my exercise routine. I went from barely getting up off the sofa everyday, into this new and exciting programme.

We started off with basic workouts, using just my body weight. Metafit workouts have been a personal favourite of mine, because you can smash out your workout in 30-45 minutes and you are set up for the day. I also enjoy doing HIIT training on my treadmill. This consists of (for example): x30 second high intensity, and x30 low intensity – Repeated for 20-30 minutes. Everything was kept simple so I could work on improving my technique and movement, as I was also suffering from a back injury to top it off. I would get the most excruciating back pains which I also had to see a chiropractor for, who worked on adjusting the bottom of my spine because it had a slight curve (the wrong way). A lot of work went into recovering from this back injury and losing weight at the same time.

I started training about 2 or 3 times a week. Now I am training 5 or 6 times! If somebody said to me I would be training this much back in May 2018, I would have laughed at them!

Now I find if I don’t workout, then my mental health can deteriorate or I invite the anxiety and depression into my mind again!

Over the last couple of months, I have started weight training. This again is something I never envisaged myself doing a year ago. I am not interested in being a body builder, or even having a six pack or anything (although it would be nice one day!). Ok, I want to get in shape, but this is still mainly about my mental state of mind. It’s more about how I feel than what I look like. What it does for me mentally is unexplainable.

I actually weighed in this morning with my PT (April 2019), and the scales read 104 kg. That is now a total of 31 kg lost in under a year. I feel SO proud of myself for doing this. I still however, have a long way to go. I’m not sure how far I will go with this exercise programme. But for now I will enjoy what I’m doing and push myself to my limits to try and achieve what I thought was unachievable!

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. As always I welcome any feedback or comments so please do get in touch! Also if you would like me to write about a specific topic which you are struggling with and would just like a bit of advice, send me a message. I will always reply asap.

Mr F x

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