Over the past few years I have made no secret of Jessicas condition, and both spoken and wrote about it quite openly. Over the past few months I have started to do this about mental health conditions which affect my life, mainly depression and anxiety. Two of many conditions which are sadly still a taboo making sufferers choose to keep to themselves for fear of being judged, shunned, avoided, or ignored. For some reason, mental illnesses are marginalised, written off as excuses, or completely ignored. I don’t like this so choose to speak openly about anything which affects my life and I want to explain why
I want to challenge stigma, discrimination and negative attitudes to mental health.
One in four people in the UK will suffer from mental health problems in their lifetime, but despite its prevalence, stigma remains one of the biggest challenges that people with mental health problems face. Most people living with mental health problems experience difficulty in finding work, being in a relationship and being socially included in society. The reason being society in general has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. Sadly there is a belief that people with mental illness are violent and dangerous. This view is upsetting, hurtful, completely untrue and needs to stop and I’ll contribute in any way I can to help end it.
I feel we need to start treating our mental health like our physical health. We need to listen to people and how they are feeling and provide help and support rather than writing off mental illness as if it’s not real. Just because you can’t see the ”injury’, doesn’t mean it’s not there
It‘s liberating, and I kind of like that feeling
I get a sense of relief from opening up and revealing who I am, flaws and all. This is me, I accept myself and feel comfortable enough to talk about my insecurities and vulnerabilities, and I’m not one bit ashamed or embarrassed. I also really appreciate all those people who remain in my life, but if you know me you’ll know that these issues play very little if any part at all in regular conversations. I’m not an absolute raincloud of doom, if anything the opposite.
It’s self help, it’s therpeautic and it’s relief
I’ve concluded this year that there is three things I need to do to take care of myself, and keep in check with my feelings. Eat right, exercise and write, whether it’s about an issue completely unrelated to mental health or about a personal issue, it helps. I’ve noticed if I eat something I probably shouldn’t, my mood changes, the same if I don’t exercise several times a week. If I stop talking about how I really feel, my feelings build up and begin to spiral out of control. I’ve become quite good at being in tune with my body, and I recognise very early the signs of another depressive or anxiety ridden episode rearing its ugly head. And with coping mechanisms, I’ll fight it. This is my body and my mind and negative thoughts and feelings aren’t welcome.
From my experience, there is a lack of support
Waiting list for counselling and therapy are long, some people waiting over six months for any kind of support. Unless you tick the box on the initial evaluation form stating you’ve had suicidal thoughts which I would then assume you’re given help immediately. Nobody should ever get to a point in life where they tick that box.
I believe if we talk about any issues affecting us more openly, there will be less of a need to seek professional help. We shouldn’t feel we need to resort to talking to a stranger for help, when friends and family should be all we need, but again, to do this we need to end the stigma.
I want to raise awareness
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders in Britain as stated earlier in this blog, with one in four people experiencing some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. As you read this, there is a high probability that someone you know is suffering, possibly in silence…
I’d like to think I can help raise awareness and encourage people to look out for any signs that a family member, friend, neighbour or work colleague could be feeling low and could do with someone to talk to, or even just offer kind words or a compliment which may just make their day.
I want to help other people
I’d like to think I can encourage others by giving them the courage to open up and talk about their feelings and assure them they are not alone. Nor are they strange, or weird, but normal, perfectly normal.
I know my openness helps other people, through messages I sometimes receive. I’ll be a shoulder or give words of advice and support to anyone experiencing hard times when they feel they have nowhere to turn, because I know that feeling too well. To anyone suffering from a mental illness who may read this, please know that you are not alone. I see you, I hear you and I know how difficult it is to ask for help.
So if anyone reads anything I post online, and wonders why on earth I’m making such personal issues so public, I hope this gives a bit of an insight. I’m not the only one who does it, but one of thousands who so desperately wants to end the stigma around mental health by talking about it on social media. That and I also have a terrible habit of feeling I constantly need to justify myself.