The first post of this series features mental health blogger, Gemma Bell. Gemma has been blogging about her own mental health journey and has ever so kindly agreed to an interview. Below, she has opened up about her coping strategies and I’m sure that you’ll find something below useful. Enjoy!
Tell us about yourself!
My name’s Gemma Bell, I’m 26 and I’m from Cardiff in ‘sunny’ South Wales. My blog was something I wanted to do over the years, the content kept changing form. However, it’s taken the form of a blog about my experience with mental illness and my recovery journey from it. It mainly started this way because my personal journal was always so negative and I needed to see a positive way around things… so this became to be. However, I kind of also write it to raise awareness, challenge the stigma and hopefully help others who may need the help from someone who gets what they’re going through.
What are your favourite ways to wind down when you’re stressed/need to relax?
Besides wine, cheese and music? I like to write and read and I love to draw. My favourite I’d say is gaming. I haven’t done it much lately because of my mental health… however, I find it can suit any mood. If you want a chilling game there’s Night In The Woods, To The Moon and Finding Paradise. If you want a challenge there’s puzzle games like Portal. If you are angry and need to go on a rampage, Grand Theft Auto is my go to. Where else could you just go nuts without any real consequences?
It all just depends on what mood I’m in. It’s easy to swap and change if my mood changes as I’m a PC gamer and do pretty much everything on my laptop. I think I’d be lost without it.
Favourite thing to have for dinner?
Pasta! Any form of pasta however if I had to say a dish, it’s either spag bol or carbonara! I love cheese and these dishes are perfect for that. Plus, they’re quick, easy and very filling. (With a heaping of garlic bread). Paired with either wine or coke. I’m set. I’m done. It’s my go to comfort food, besides curry Koka Noodles.
When you’re feeling triggered, what works best to help you?
This can vary. If it’s mild, I can go somewhere else with my husband and have a sit down and chat. Sometimes I’ll just sit and cry for a bit. As silly as it sounds, it helps. I know it’s just bad memories causing this so I just let myself feel the emotion I need. Other times, I’ll go for a drink with someone. I’ll go somewhere quiet with my notepad and write down everything that is going on in my head. The thoughts, feelings whatever. Even if it’s negative and full of swears I’m getting it out.
If it’s major I don’t really know what ‘works’ as I’ll try my wind down methods, I’ll follow the minor ways. I’ll do anything and everything to get out of that mindset.
Have you told people about your experience? Why/Why not?
I’ve told my husband and my best friend everything. My husband wasn’t a choice as such. When we met he tried to hug me and he felt that I had been through stuff with how I reacted. It did however, help him to understand me. The best friend? Well, I felt like he should know why I am the way I am. I did tell some old friends, what I went through and they didn’t believe me. It’s the reason why I only have a select few in my personal life who know everything that I’ve been through.
If asked for advice, what do you usually say?
If you’re down and struggling I always tell people if they need to talk, then talk to someone. If they can’t, then try to use a distraction method like gaming, reading – anything! However, distraction methods only work for so long, they are useful but you will need to eventually talk. If you don’t want to talk to professionals at first, I’m open. I’ll listen, I’ll try and help you. I won’t judge.
When you struggle to trust people, what are some strategies you use to open up to them?
I do try and just talk to them for a while. I can, over time, have a good guess for character. However, I’ll sometimes rely on my husband to help me work out if they’re a legit person or a time waster. From experience with my therapist? I just chatted generally like a normal person and found we just clicked. It was a nice environment I didn’t feel stressed or scared to talk to her about what I’ve been through. The biggest thing that made me click with my husband is that he respected ‘no’. He respected my boundaries.
Who are five people that you follow on social media & why?
- Nicole Carman her blog on mental health is really interesting to read and she’s started an online community for people suffering with mental health issues.
- Matt Haig, the author of Reasons To Live and The Truth Pixie, his twitter posts on mental health are completely spot on. I absolutely adore his book Reasons To Live and couldn’t recommend it enough.
- Kati Morton, she’s a therapist who makes YouTube videos on mental health and I absolutely love the way she addresses these topics. She’s even started her own Facebook support group and is releasing her own book.
- Julia Kristina is therapist who makes YouTube videos on mental health. I found her the same time as Kati, I also love the way she approaches mental health. It’s easy to understand and in a down to earth way. She’s also, started a Facebook support group.
- Stuart Ashen – he does loads of different videos on YouTube covering Poundland reviews, game console reviews and what not. He’s very uplifting and some of his videos are hilarious. He’s even wrote a book about terrible video games. If you’re feeling low, give him a look.
If you’d like to read more about Gemma or check out some of her other thoughts on mental health, you can check her blog out here.