Your Lowest Point Is Your Turning Point
On Mental Health Awareness Week we asked our Young Activists, what advice you would give to someone who is feeling low? This is what Sam told us.
You can't describe how you feel or how you're going to recover these days without some well thought-out imagery. For me, nothing quite describes recovery like a GCSE Maths line graph. There's something about pinning our entire lives to two axis.
The X-Axis (remember, 'X Is A-Cross,' get it?) represents your life's timeline, from day one of your choosing, right up to present day, and leaving plenty of space for the future. The Y-Axis charts your happiness, your health, your mood right up to one hundred. You know how it works, we're all aiming to get to the top.
Bear with me, start plotting your life across this graph. You'll have had your high points so far, those days/weeks/months/years where life was good, when you thought it couldn't get better. However, you'll have also had your rock bottom's, the times you thought you couldn't cope, the periods you decided it really couldn't get any worse.
Rock bottom is the point we're all desperate for answers. Hoping and praying something will change before we decide we can no longer cope. Sometimes it can be too much, sometimes to our detriment we'll try anything to escape rock bottom, but it doesn't have to be that way.
The only way is up
Looking at the graph, it's clear what follows once you hit the lowest point. The only way is up, things can only get better, and without quoting anymore of your parents' favourite songs, it's clear that your lowest point can be viewed as your turning point. We can start looking positively again.
Those people you envy / admire, ask them to graph their lives. They might seem to have those ideal lives where everything is going for them, but it wasn't always that way, they too had times where they were heading down the metaphorical Y-Axis. What happened afterwards though, every single time?
Drawing your line upwards is the fun part of life. Those periods where things start to change for the better, you start moving forward, and you start progressing, are the times to truly enjoy. It doesn't have to be rapid, it doesn't have to be the complete turnaround some of us crave, but if you can start drawing that line of life away from zero, you have so much to be proud of.
Think of yourself on that scale of 1-100, what number are you currently at? If you're struggling, becoming discontented with life, seeing your self-esteem as minimal, you'll probably place yourself at the 10-20% mark. You're surviving, but how much can you really enjoy life when you're operating at about 15% in everything?
But as we see from our graphs, it's only temporary, and it's more than possible to start moving up. Think what you're currently still capable of at the 10-20% capacity you've put yourself at. If it's possible with numbers like that, just imagine what you can achieve when you one day reach 80-90%. Trust me, it's coming, and it's worth getting excited about.
Mental illness can limit our performance, damage our self-esteem, and drag our line graphs downwards, but when recovery begins, there is no limit to the numbers we can reach. It's worth thinking about what's possible when you're operating near 90%. That confident, high-achieving version of yourself does exist, but just because you feel incapable right now, doesn't mean it will always be the case.
Recovery is not a straight line
'Recovery is not a straight line' is something I was told last year (a lot), and there's definitely very little truer. You'll have bumps in the road that'll send you in a different direction, but that's nothing to be ashamed of. Once you start moving forward, building momentum, it'll be difficult for life to send your line hurtling back down.
And if you do head downwards, you do hit rock bottom, just remember that your lowest point is your turning point. Take a pause, set yourself some goals, and start to believe in and look forward to the journey ahead. Maybe plot it on a graph, perhaps one day it'll be something to be proud of.