Journey to Mental Health Recovery

6 Things That Can Damage Your Mental Health

Published about 2 months ago • 5 min read

According to the World Health Organization, mental health conditions are increasing worldwide. There has been a 13% rise in mental health conditions in the last decade, and 20% of children and adolescents now have a mental health condition.

It is easy to read these bleak statistics and switch them off, but behind the numbers are real people. Behind every number, there’s a name.

The chances are high that you either have a mental health condition or know someone suffering. You need to understand how to protect yourself and those around you in a world where we are constantly assaulted with news of death, war, and disease.

The good news is there are many things you can do starting immediately to take care of yourself and increase your possibility of a happier life. I have written extensively about my struggles and recovery to reassure you I have walked a similar path. I use the following tips to keep my depression and Psychosis at bay.

1. Toxic, Manipulative Relationships.

My relationship with my former girlfriend was the epitome of toxic and manipulative. She used to try and provoke a reaction in all sorts of ways. First, she said she wasn’t entirely over her last boyfriend and was unsure if she had made a mistake.

Then she told me a guy at a party had got in bed with her while drunk, and they slept together naked, although nothing went on…

She pretended she was applying to join the police miles away, where we would never see each other to get a reaction.

She alleged she was being stalked by a guy whom it turned out she was cheating with, finally leading to the break up of our twisted relationship.

I was only with her in the first place because PTSD severely clouded my judgment. I ended up cheating on her with my future wife, and we have been together for 18 years.

This kind of toxic relationship can damage your mental health and take years to untangle. It can give you a warped idea of love and make you act in ways you never imagined — cheating would be unthinkable for me in normal circumstances.

It may not be a romantic partner — perhaps it’s a friend or family member creating this toxicity. Just know that the relationship is eating you alive from the inside.

If you think about a relationship and it causes you fear, anxiety, and pain instead of love and joy, it’s toxic. Getting out of it may not be easy — especially if it’s a romantic partnership — but it is essential for your mental health.

If you’re suffering domestic violence, check out these resources for help in the UK or go here for help in North America.

2. Excessive Drug and Alcohol Use.

When I was first diagnosed with psychosis, I was referred to the early intervention in psychosis team.

What a shambles!

A nurse was supposed to visit me once a week to check how I was doing. She sometimes failed to turn up at all, and when she did, she was always late, condescending, and downright rude.

One of the treatment methods of this team is to help the sufferer socialize through activities like sports, meet-ups at coffee shops, etc. However, she made it clear early on that I was not going to be able to take part in any of that.

She told me the problem was I used to be a police officer. Virtually everyone else in the program was a drug addict, and they would not take kindly to me being there.

As if I would want to be!

The nurse said there was a high probability that some of the people I used to arrest regularly were in the group. As a result, I would be confined to a once-a-week meeting in my room if I was lucky and she turned up.

The point of this shambolic story is to highlight the connection between addiction and mental illness. Many people diagnosed with psychosis got that way through drug-taking.

Research indicates that nearly 50% of people with schizophrenia have a lifetime prevalence of substance abuse.

Before dealing with your mental health problem, you must deal with your substance addiction. Go here for help within the UK or here for a list of treatment centers in North America.

3. Loneliness.

The charity Mind explains how loneliness can severely impact your mental health. Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and increased stress.

All research indicates that social interaction is essential to our mental health. A strong support network improves your emotional AND physical health and is an integral part of your life.

While it is true that we all need some interaction with others, the amount of interaction required may vary based on individual choice.

I am an introvert. Social interaction often drains me, and so providing I have a couple of people close to me, I am happy. You may be different and need many more friends.

Do what is right for you.

4. A Terrible Therapist.

When it comes to terrible therapists, I have had the whole gamut. From someone throwing cushions at me every time I swallowed, to a man who never said a word for the entire hour, to a woman who used to give me the “talking stick.”

After several years of bouncing around this system of egotistical weirdos, I called it quits and vowed never to go to therapy again. Luckily, medication and the love of my family got me through my darkest days because I never found a good therapist.

Many people have excellent experiences with therapy and credit it with helping them become more robust and happier people. But you must do your research as a lousy therapist is far worse than none at all.

Sometimes it is hard to tell the therapist from the patient.

5. The News.

Most of us have no idea how manipulated we are by the media. It is poisonous, thriving off misery and fear and bombarding us every day with horror.

It tells us who to care about and for how long.

It tells us what to be scared about.

It tells us who to hate.

We look at other countries and dismiss their media as “propaganda” while being fed our own diatribe of bull**** direct into our living rooms.

Currently, we are in a cycle of caring about refugees and opening our homes to them, but only if they are European and white. If they are from the many other war-torn countries globally, we might just let them drown.

Most people don’t know that they only care about particular wars and certain refugees based on what they are told. They don’t see the gap between letting refugees live in their houses while ignoring others as they drown, all based on country, skin color, and manipulation.

I am weaning myself off the 24-hour news cycle, but it is addictive. Perhaps you fear you will be less knowledgeable about the world around you if you stop taking this garbage in, but most of the time, you come away dosed up on fear porn and no longer thinking for yourself — the antithesis of knowledge.

6. Bad Nutrition and Lack of Sleep.

I have put these together because, although they are essential, they form part of thousands of bland blog posts, so I don’t want to waste your time going into detail.

Just eat more vegetables and sleep 8 hours a night.


It’s no surprise that mental health conditions are becoming more prevalent. Not only are we fed a daily diet of Covid and war, but we spend more of our time isolated and distrusting each other.

To fill the void, we may resort to drugs or alcohol abuse, taking us further into a dark pit of depression.

But as long as we breathe, we can claw our way back. You can escape your toxic relationships, make more friends, break free of your addictions, and look after yourself by cutting the 24-hour news cycle out of your life.

It is your job to protect your mental health. While there is help along the way, no one can do it for you.

Journey to Mental Health Recovery

Leon Macfayden

Schizophrenia and PTSD survivor sharing my journey to recovery. Join over 800 subscribers learning to improve their mental health. Every week, I share personal stories and effective tips to help you and your loved ones live the life you deserve.

Share this page