Let’s start talking about self-medication and mental health (AD)

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AD. If you follow me on social media you may already know that I am a big advocate for mental health, and talking about it. Talking about mental health is something that can still be seen as a taboo subject, just like talking about family finances, death and even lifestyle habits. Having seen first hand the devastation that mental health conditions can have on family & friends I want to ensure I’m doing what I can to foster conversations that help people. Today I want to talk to you about the Let’s Start Talking campaign from the life insurance broker LifeSearch and my own experience of self-medicating when my mental health was low.

Let's start talking about self-medication and mental health

Why do I feel life insurance is important?

In the past, I have written about why you need life insurance, and it is something that I feel all parents should have. Thomas and I sat down together when Daisy was born, to discuss our plans for the future. We had wills drawn up, discussed guardianship with my sister-in-law and made sure that financially either one of us would have money should the other one die. This was a pretty brutal conversation, but one that was also so freeing. By discussing our plans for our children, our finances and even what type of funeral we wanted, should life throw us an unexpectedly brutal curveball we know we will be able to cope. We put all of our requests and plans in writing and made sure that our immediate family knew we had wills, where to find them and a loose overview of what our wishes are.

I feel really fortunate that we are in our 30s and already in a financially sound position. We have a large amount of savings, are going to buy a house very soon and aim to be mortgage free in well under 10 years. I want to protect our life together and since 1998 LifeSearch has helped hundreds of thousands of people to do just that.

My own experiences with self-medication and mental health

When Daisy was born in 2016 I took time off work, and as a result, our family finances were impacted. Then my Dad died and suddenly I was dealing with the stages of grief as a parent of a small child. Like more than 1 in 4 people+ I have been stung financially when a loved one has died without a plan. I found myself feeling so much pressure to earn money, work hard and have a better life. Like nearly half of Brits, I began to self-medicate, in my own way. I would stay up gaming until the early hours of the morning. It felt like a release from life for me initially, but ultimately it impacted on my sleep which further decreased the quality of my mental, and physical health for several months. Like a lot of millennials talking about my health, and more specifically my mental health was really worrying to me. Gradually I learned to open up to my husband and this helped lift some of the stress I was feeling.

Self-medication Lifesearch campaign

You can’t tell from looking at me here but this is when my mental health was at a really low point. I felt like I was failing at just about everything. My daughter was yet to be diagnosed with FPIES and I was barely sleeping trying to be everything. Fortunately I found the strength to speak out, to those I love, and to stop gaming, staying up late and generally just neglecting my health. The picture at the top of this post was taken just a few months ago, on holiday, and I probably look slightly less happier, because I’m just being my real self now. I’m honest with my followers, and open with my family, and my mental health has flourished because of this.

Self-medication and mental health

Recent research commissioned by LifeSearch shows that one in five people currently rely on drugs and alcohol to cope with issues+. Nearly half of over 16s use coping mechanisms to self-medicate current mental health issues+ and 6 in 10 people say they have done so in the past+.

When self-medicating people sometimes take behaviours to the extreme and this can add considerably to mental health woes and conditions. For 48% of people who self-medicate they believe that their behaviour has become a problem+. With self-medicating including over-exercising, over and under eating, gambling, drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs or shopping to excess the effects on health and wealth can be vast.

The Let’s Start Talking campaign

With us having more and more ways than ever to communicate with people LifeSearch want people to start talking and start to have some of the more difficult conversations in life. More conversations about mental health. More about family finances. 15% of people don’t know if a loved one has had mental health problems+ which is really quite sad. Our loved ones are people that we typically love unconditionally and I know I’d want my loved ones to talk to me about anything that was bothering them.

Now is the time for us to start talking more. About mental health. About family finances. About anything that is troubling us.

Let’s Start Talking!

Three-quarters of us don’t know if our parents have life insuranceand many of us won’t know our loved one’s wishes until after they pass away. This all just seems SO wrong! Why aren’t we having more of these conversations? They’re such impactful conversations that you typically only need to address them a handful of times in your adult life. With death being as taboo as talking about money+ now is the time for us to have these big conversations in life.

Finding someone to talk to when you’re facing difficulties in life can be so freeing. Just saying out loud that you are struggling with parenting, finances, or whatever else may be weighing you down, can really help. A problem shared IS usually a problem halved and I think when you’re family, or in a committed relationship, there is almost nothing that you can’t solve together. Life is a rollercoaster at times, full of ups and downs, but I’d encourage everyone to be more honest, open and talk to those around them. You’re not burdening your loved ones when you share, as we all wish the best for those that we love don’t we?!

+Information marked in this way comes from two sources of data.

The LifeSearch ‘Let’s Start Talking’ Report was released in March 2019 and polled 2,031 people between 17th and 21st February 2019. The data was weighted to be a national representative sample. Full report is available here.

Omnibus research was conducted by CensusWide on behalf of LifeSearch. This was an online poll of 2005 adults aged 16+ and a national representative spread. The research was conducted between 24 April 2019 and 26 April 2019.

9 Responses

  1. Sarah Stockley May 30, 2019 / 9:59 am

    This is all so important to talk about your mental health. My husband suffers with depression a lot of it stems from work stress and finances. I also suffer with anxiety. Opening up is the best thing you can do.

    • katykicker May 30, 2019 / 10:15 am

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share that with me. I think people say mental health problems are becoming ‘fashionable’ but really it is just that we are reaching a period of time where people can, mostly, talk about it without judgement from others. You’re so right, opening up is really important.

  2. Tom Briggs May 30, 2019 / 11:19 am

    Good on you for writing about this, Katy. I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of staying up late playing video games lately and hadn’t thought of it as self-medication. I guess that’s what it is though as I’m not in the happiest of places right now. My wife and I talk about the things that are getting us down every day, but we could both do with getting into better habits to help our mental health more.

    • katykicker May 30, 2019 / 11:21 am

      Thanks so much for sharing, and being so open. It’s great to see men talking openly about mental health. While there is nothing wrong with late night video games, as I indulge from time to time myself, I think if you’re aware it’s self-medication then it’s definitely time to address things! I’m sorry that you’re not in the happiest of places right now – I’m often around on email or Instagram etc if you fancy a chat! Sounds like you have a lovely strong marriage where you can open too, which is always a great help. Take care x

      • Tom Briggs May 30, 2019 / 2:50 pm

        Yes, it’s so important to talk about things like this – even when it’s not easy to do so. It definitely lightens the load. 🙂

  3. Lauren May 30, 2019 / 5:57 pm

    After an incredibly hard discussion with a close family member before an operation about finances and what to do if the worst happened I am going to make SO sure my kids know whats what right from the age they are old enough to understand.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • katykicker June 5, 2019 / 9:36 am

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment x

  4. Kim Carberry May 30, 2019 / 7:27 pm

    It sounds like you went through a really tough time! I had no idea. This sounds like a fantastic campaign to be part of. We do need to talk more about everything! x

    • katykicker June 5, 2019 / 9:37 am

      We really do! I’m learning to be more open now in the hope of helping others.

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