Trigger warnings: Psychiatric hospital, depression, anxiety
Recently I spent a considerable amount of time in a psychiatric hospital. Sounds scary, I know. I was terrified, but I can honestly say it is probably one of the best things I ever pushed myself to do. It was a time that I spent learning and growing and understanding myself. And I figured, since I learnt so much, maybe I should share some of my wisdom; hopefully the things that I learnt might be useful, even if only for one person who needs a little inspiration. So here is a brief rundown of what I learnt:
- Feeling emotions is not a bad thing. Feeling stressed? Let that help you get things done. Feeling like you want to sulk? Do it. You’ll feel better. Don’t run away from your emotions, because if you don’t let yourself feel them, you’ll eventually stop letting yourself feel happy as well.
- If you feel like your thoughts are spinning out of control, find a healthy way to let them out. For me, it began with writing a diary when they got a bit out of hand. Then that developed into doing more drawing and art. Whatever works for you to get the thoughts out is worth doing.
- Who you are is not dependent on other people. You are your own person, you have your own life, what other people think should not control you.
- Everything that happens to us is designed to help us. No matter what way you look at something, ultimately the goal of it is to help. It’s a survival mechanism, and sometimes it is actually better to listen to it, rather than ignore that instinct.
- Everything that you give to others, you must also give to yourself!
- The word ‘should’ is not a useful word. You don’t have to live up to the expectations of anyone, you just need to do what feels right for you, and what you are capable of doing.
- It is important to take the power away from a negative thought. You can recognise that you are having it, and then choose to do nothing about it. It’s not easy, but with practice it can become a really useful tool.
- Guilt is a feeling. The feeling implies that you have done something wrong and you want to make it up. This is not necessarily true.
- You don’t have to do anything except be a living, breathing human to be interesting. It is fascinating just to watch humans exist, and every person is worthy of being watched and admired just for existing.
I know that some of these things will sound like a broken record, I certainly thought that. It is quite common to have people tell you things along these lines, but that doesn’t ever really mean you believe it. You need to find a way to learn these things for yourself, and believe them yourself. Having me tell you that these are important messages is not going to make you listen to me. I’m only sharing the wisdom that I learnt that has been useful in helping me to get better. It won’t work for everyone. And by all means, don’t listen to me if you don’t want to. But sometimes it is nice to hear from someone that you are not alone and there is hope, and you are worthy of living the life you want.
Written and illustrated by Charlie Osborne