CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Definition and examples of self help are:
the use of one's own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others.
"a reduction in the role of the state and an increasing reliance on self-help"
designed to assist people in achieving things for themselves.
modifier noun: self-help - "when I suffered from depression I went to a self-help group"
Self Help is not a new term to most of us. We have all read about it, and at times tried to apply it to our everyday lives. I know I have spent countless hours including articles in magazines, and on social media, or running workshops about it over the years when I was facilitating our support group gatherings, and over the last ten years and publishing our community magazines.
Unfortunately for self help to have any real effect you must really commit to it and practise it daily, making it part of your routine and everyday life. I have learned that helping yourself is a very important and key aspect to living a good life when you have a chronic illness or disease. I think there are automatic things you do everyday that are considered 'self help' such as brushing your teeth, showering or making sure you drink enough water.
When you live with a chronic illness or disease some of these seemingly simply tasks can actually seem quite daunting when you feel like you've been run over by a tractor. It is so easy for some people who are not living with illness, let alone chronic illness and disease to say to those who are, that they should live by the same routines as someone who is completely healthy and free from terrible pain, limitations, sleep deprivation, not to mention horrendous side effects from medications and treatments.
That is where the term 'invisible illness' comes into effect and can be both a blessing and a curse.
I think from my lived experience that self help is a very nice idea but is sometimes really hard to put into practice depending on your own particular individual circumstances. I have witnessed many people over the years with various chronic conditions, illness and diseases who have all got completely different approaches, and all seem to be able to do things that some of us can't. The hardest thing I have found is comparisons. Never compare yourself and your circumstances to another person with the same, or a different condition. That is a recipe for disaster and can lead to complete disillusionment.
In all my years of working in the community services industry with people living with pulmonary hypertension in particular, I would have to say that people were constantly asking the question, "why do they have to wear oxygen and I don't", "why are they on that mediation and I am on this one". It didn't matter that they were educated and provided information explaining why, they still asked these questions based on comparison of how things looked.
So if I was going to offer up any advice to you, it would be please remember that you are an individual with your own special set of circumstances unique to you. You need to find what works for you, not for someone else.
So how do you get started? Well this is the question I had to ask myself after I had suffered my second nervous breakdown in November 2019. I was paralyzed with fear, deeply depressed with a depression I had never experienced before. I felt completely hopeless, unmotivated, and even though I knew I had to pick myself up from this puddle of despair I had become, I simply couldn't concentrate long enough to get started.
Because of my background working in the self help and support industry I did at least have many of the tools I had shared and I knew where to source some of the information I may need or thought could be helpful. I did not have the finances to attend endless counselling especially once my free visits through Medicare ran out for the year, so it was up to me to find counsel within an environment that was free, or affordable. I also found it all very overwhelming and I was tired before I even began.
These are the places I found to be most helpful so far:
The Wellness Society (based in the UK) : offer an online product that caters to you individually that you work through called "Understanding your mental wellbeing". It is only electronic and you have to download it and print it off. I ordered their package and I have yet to commence it. I will let you know how I go and we can road test it together.
The Practical Mindfulness Book (printed by ???) : Its an A4 sized soft magazine/book about a fingers width thick produced on what feels like recycled paper. It has many illustrations within and moves quickly and efficiently through its topics. The lack of real colour has so far failed to engage me completely, but I am trying to do one topic at a time which is usually two or three pages long.
Calm Moment e-newsletter (UK based) : offers a hard copy magazine as well called "in the Moment", an e-newsletter which I subscribe to, this includes links to many great articles, podcast series and so much more. This is the tool I think I have enjoyed the most because it is so easy to use, its interesting, varied and colourful. I need to be engaged immediately and if there is nothing to get my neurons firing then I see using the tools as a chore and not what they are intended to be, helpful! This often leads to then avoiding using them altogether.
Pinterest (Online only) : easy to download the app on various devices and even set up your own personal boards, as they are called. I would have to say this is the tool that I use the most frequently and have benefited from more than anything else.
Because I found it so hard to cope with too much information and I became overwhelmed really easily after my breakdown, this was an easy thing to use. I could simply pick up my Ipad and open the app and away I went. At some of my darkest moments of despair I turned to the many boards available and spent hours reading all the inspirational quotes. Some days or nights, those quotes pissed me off royally, other days they gave me great comfort. Either way I knew they would always be there and were easily accessible for those moments when I was really struggling and needed easy access to instant self help!