I spent quite a few years living with depression and not really feeling like me. I went months without smiling or laughing and every day seemed to merge into the next Then I had the hyper months where I’d be high as a kite, burning through each day with a craze that bought out the hulk. I didn’t feel like myself in any shape or form.

Mental health illness puts strange and untrue thoughts into your head. Your whole view of reality is severely distorted. It’s a very hard world to live in and over time you lose yourself.

When I sit and think about who I am now and the journey I’ve come on to get here it makes me a little bit sad. I feel like I’ve lost years of my life to this illness. But moving on I’m a stronger person. I hope I never get so ill again, I think I’ll recognise the warning signs earlier and be able to do something about it.

If you’re not feeling like you, there is something you can do about it. You won’t feel right 100% of the time, but you can build up little moments every day and start to feel more you again.

Start by writing a list of what makes you happy. What are your top five things to do to make you happy? Mine would be: yoga, a long walk, cooking a new yummy meal, reading with my children and being outdoors, preferably in a forest or camping with a fire. Now try and do more of those things. You might only get one done this week, but next week it might be two or three.

Next, make a list of things that make you laugh. Reading a book, watching a romcom or comedy, pulling silly faces at someone you love, dancing like a loon, dressing up the dog. Whatever you list is, try and build some of that into every day.

Lastly, make a list of nourishing things. Eating healthy food, taking a long bath, having a massage, doing exercise, getting outside, even simple things like getting dressed and drinking more water. Again, build this into every day.

The theory behind this technique is to increase the good hormones that your illness is wreaking. Dopamine being the major one.

Once you start to feel a little bit happier and a little bit more like you, you can start doing more and more and even get back to the bigger things in life that make up you. A painting class, a yoga class, swimming, volunteering, playing an instrument, dinner parties with friends. Whatever you love doing, whatever your interests and hobbies are. You’ll build up to doing these again. Start small, a laugh, a smile a day. Build on these little moments and get back some of you. Your illness doesn’t define you. It may have pushed you down, but the amazing you is still inside and can come back again! Much love x

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