I had my first breakdown when I was in my mid-20s, writes Kate Hull-Rodgers.
I am now in my mid-50s so I have learned a lot in 30-plus years.
One important thing I have learned is that when I am struggling with my mental health, I must not suffer in silence.
I must reach out, must share my experience.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
I have identified four ways to make contact.
Firstly, I can share my thoughts and feelings with myself.
I keep a journal and it is a wonderful, private place to purge.
I can write about all my experiences, good and bad.
Getting my thoughts on paper gives me perspective.
I am able to assess the troubles with a clear mind.
One of the joys of journaling is reading back over what I have written.
I always feel that I have moved on.
It gives me strength to know that my situation is changing. It helps me not feel stuck, which is a symptom of depression.
I love those four wise words – ‘this too will pass.’
Secondly, I make contact on the internet.
I find it very helpful to read and contribute to chat rooms.
It is wonderful to be anonymous and get my feelings out.
I love getting responses to my posts.
I can connect with the entire world and know that I am not alone.
Thirdly, I talk to friends and family.
My husband, my sons and my sister all offer solace.
I share different things with different people.
The important thing is that I share. I tell them of my troubles, but I also tell them of my victories.
My youngest son in particular is a pillar of strength.
He has grown up with my mental illness and he has helped me so much that we call him Dr Dominic.
Fourthly and finally, I contact professionals.
This includes all the self-help groups, the activity groups, and the friendship groups.
In Gainsborough, I can highly recommend the voluntary centre services (based in the Guildhall at Marshalls Yard) as a place to start
They will signpost you to the right organisation.
Then, of course, there are the medical people.
I recommend you start with your GP as he or she will have access to all sorts of help.
I have been referred to occupational therapists, peer support workers, community psychiatric nurses, the crisis team and social workers.
The NHS is well equipped to help with mental health issues.
The most important thing is to know that there is no stigma in feeling low.
It’s okay not to be okay.
There is lots of help available, all you have to do is reach out and just ask.