Today is World Mental Health Day – a day to raise awareness of mental health problems. Recent years have seen an encouraging change in the way we report and support mental health problems – but still, many people are not getting much-needed support.

Navigating through the past few years, we've all found ourselves wrapped in a tumultuous wave of challenges. Our usual rhythms of life have been disrupted, introducing a myriad of emotions and experiences into our worlds.

We’ve all felt it - the isolation from loved ones through Covid lockdowns, the stress of abrupt changes, and the craving for the familiar comforts we once took for granted. It's been tough, requiring us to adapt in ways we could never have anticipated. There’s also the challenge of navigating the change in the economy; living costs are higher, putting families under more pressure as they struggle to make ends meet.

Acknowledging Our Struggles

Perhaps you’ve noticed that things have started feeling a little heavier than usual. The sleepless nights, the shifts in appetite or mood, or other symptoms that add up to a sign that you’re not really feeling like you.

Seeing The Signs In Ourselves And Others

Sometimes, the subtle signs of our mental well-being needing a bit of TLC can slip through unnoticed. Maybe it’s a gradual withdrawal from the activities you once enjoyed, or perhaps friends or family have mentioned they’ve noticed a difference in your energy or temperament. It’s a good idea to step back and take stock of how you’re feeling, and how you’re doing. Does it seem like things are getting on top of you? Maybe you’ve started to let standards slip in certain areas of your life due to dwindling interests or low mood. Do you feel like you’re making more mistakes than usual? Or worse – do you sometimes feel like you don’t care?

These signs could be indicative of a decline in your mental health.

And yes, it's also possible that some of us might find solace in different ways, such as reaching for a glass of wine, a joint, or something stronger. It's essential to acknowledge that these are coping mechanisms, even if they're not the healthiest ones. It’s part of the human condition, for many people, to find something to lean on when things get tough – something to perk you up, take the edge off, or temporarily chase away the blues.

Your Well-being Matters

If you're finding it difficult to resonate with your usual self, please remember: your experiences and feelings are valid. No matter how small or large they might seem, they matter.

It’s Okay To Reach Out

Talking about our mental health isn’t always easy, but it’s an incredibly brave and positive step to take. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lost, or simply not yourself - reaching out to someone you trust can make a world of difference. It can be a life-saving step to turn to a friend or family member and say “Can I talk to you?” This also guarantees that someone will be looking out for you, and hopefully, checking in with you regularly.

The veil of mental health can often conceal our internal struggles from those around us. It's okay to let that veil fall, to let others in and share in our journey.

You Are Not Alone

When it comes to seeking help, know that this path isn’t one you must walk alone. Whether it’s opening up to a friend, family member, or a professional - there are people ready and willing to walk alongside you. Trained professionals can help you work through your problems and formulate coping strategies to help you overcome your struggles. Sometimes, the advice seems obvious, but you need to hear it from someone else.

When you seek help, you might encounter various terms, like “Dual Diagnosis”, which simply means that you’re coping with mental health challenges alongside substance use. But don’t worry, these are just terms to help professionals guide you through your healing journey in the most supportive way possible.

Let’s Navigate This Path Together

Recognizing that something doesn’t feel right internally is the first step towards finding a path that can help guide you back to yourself. Remember, it's okay not to be okay, and reaching out for support is a strong and courageous thing to do.

Let’s embrace the journey of mental wellness together and remember: your mental health matters, you matter, and there is support all around you.

How Substances Can Impact Your Mental Health

Isn’t it curious how a substance, like alcohol, known to the world as a ‘depressant’, can occasionally uplift our spirits, even if it's just momentarily? It doesn’t always directly cause us to feel down after the fact, either. Rather, it subtly slows our Central Nervous System, altering concentration and co-ordination, sometimes offering a brief escape from anxiety or moments of sadness.

Yet, diving deeper, excessive consumption might amplify emotions, sometimes intensifying the feelings we aimed to soothe. Not only that – self-medicating with alcohol or other substances often only serves to delay the inevitable funk. Hitting the substances hard in the evening can often lead to a much worse next-day crash.

If you’ve found your glasses emptying a bit more frequently, why not embark on a gentle exploration of your drinking habits? A non-judgemental reflection on our pattern offers a path to understanding the silent conversations between our emotions and our drinks. Take stock and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Could keeping a soft record, like a diary of your daily intake, illuminate patterns without judgment?
  • When you raise your glass, what emotions are dancing within you? Joy? Sorrow?
  • Are you drinking more frequently than you used to? Or larger quantities?
  • Have you noticed a change in your mood as a result?

Recognizing patterns and changes is often a key first step to feeling better.

Understanding Cocaine

Cocaine, often invited to parties as a guest that promises a momentary high, carries with it a hidden weight that can profoundly touch our mental well-being. The crash that follows the party can bring restless nights and contemplative stares into the abyss.

It is a substance that can toy with our minds, introducing a cascade of dopamine that sparkles at first, but can quickly dim into unsettling emotional and physical experiences. As the effects of a cocaine bump are typically very sort-lived, ask yourself:

  • Are your lines becoming bigger, or more frequent?
  • Are you finding your spending is getting out of control?
  • Is it getting harder to get by without it? Are you desperately waiting for your next turn?
  • Are you struggling to get through the times when you don't have access to cocaine?

We're speaking about cocaine and alcohol here, but these patterns can be applied to any recreational drug or substance you find yourself using. Overuse leads to addiciton and addiction brings bigger problems.

It’s A Heartfelt Chat, Not A Lecture

Even within the swirls of parties, with social sips or sniffs, there lies a gentle reminder: when the fun dims into discomfort, it’s best to pause.

If cocaine, alcohol, or other substances have woven themselves into your daily coping, know that you’re enveloped in understanding and not alone in this. When the balance tips, and the lows begin to outweigh those fleeting moments of high, perhaps it's an invitation to gently reflect upon what you seek in those substances?

Compassion, Support, and Understanding Awaits

If you find yourself entertaining darker thoughts or finding your usage quietly creeping upwards, remember that help is available. Whether through your GP, local support networks, or a confidential chat with a dear friend, recognizing the problem is the first step, and seeking help is the second.

On Wolr Mental Health Day, check in with yourself, or friends, or family members. Is everything okay? Do things seem out of hand? Help is available. Mental health is a universal human right, and there are steps you can take to recover your best mental health. Your journey, your experiences, and your emotions are valid. And even in moments of struggle, remember, it’s okay to not be okay.