So I wanted to do a brutally honest post for today on mental illness, seeing as it is #WorldMentalHealthDay. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992, and aims to educate, raise awareness and advocate Mental Health.
To put it bluntly, I suffer with mental health issues, and currently take medication for my depression and anxiety. I have been struggling with both of these for around 4 years, but did not get professional help, or even realise I was suffering until only a year and a half ago. That I feel is due to the lack of education, and the current ignorance that surrounds everything to do with mental health at the moment.
Mental health issues are awful. Mental and emotional abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse in most circumstances (not taking away from any form of abuse whatsoever), and has a detrimental impact on many people’s lives.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40, and 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health issue of some form. Those startling facts really should be enough to make people wake up and realise there is more going on here than just people feeling a bit down or going through a rough patch in life.
Depression is so much more than just feeling a bit down. You can’t shower, personal hygiene isn’t even important enough to you, you struggle to get out of bed, you fail to see the reasons as to why the day is beautiful and that you are lucky to be alive.
Anxiety is so much more than feeling nervous or worried. You overthink EVERYTHING, answering the phone makes your heart race and you constantly worry that you may have said something wrong and should have said it differently and now that person hates me and omg what have I done. Your mind is always running at 100 miles per hour.
Mix depression and anxiety together and what do you have? You have a racing mind full of worry & dread, but zero willpower to do anything. Getting any form of motivation is gold dust, and any form of negativity can send you straight back in to that awful state of mind that you are so used to.
Phrases that particularly grind my gears are ones like “Oh, I am so depressed it is Monday” or “you don’t seem like somebody who can be depressed” or “go for a walk, that will cheer you up!” You wouldn’t tell a deaf person to listen harder, you wouldn’t tell a man with a broken leg to just fix it, so why do people think telling you to cheer up will make it all be okay?
I struggle to contain my anger when people say ignorant comments such as that, but I believe it is more to do with the fact there is a massive stigma around mental health, and the fact people can’t understand it. Until it happens to you, you will never fully grasp the devastating impact it can have on your life.
Fact is, there isn’t a reason for it. You can’t say why you are randomly crying. You can’t pinpoint what it is that is making you feel so empty, like there is a hole in you that can’t be filled. It is just the way it is.
Although the massive stigma, I also feel that lately, people jump on this bandwagon and claim that they are depressed / suffer with anxiety, without appreciating the full extent of what they are claiming. People may claim these in order to get attention to make their ego feel better, when the fact is, if they knew how it really felt, they would never say it in the first place.
DEPRESSION, ANXIETY & MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE NOT FASHIONABLE. THEY ARE PARASITES, THEY ARE DEADLY AND THEY STOP YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE TO THE FULL.
I do not want this post to come across in such a way that puts people off of seeking help if they really are feeling awful. I do not want people to feel they may be viewed as crying for attention if they speak out about how they feel, but I want to express to the people that these diseases are insufferable. It is more than a bad day, it is a constant – sometimes to the point where you fail to see the reason for living anymore.
Today I will find out whether I have got a place in the London Marathon in 2017, which I plan to run on behalf of Heads Together, to help beat the stigma around mental health. I am praying and hoping I can do my part to raise awareness and some money to fund research into mental health, in order to help others who really do suffer and do not understand what is happening to them. I want to let people know, IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY.
Last week, I was thinking about all this and just put the camera on. I just brain dumped my thoughts into a video, which you can find below if you would like to watch. I would be incredibly grateful for any support!
The community on Twitter for mental health is extraordinary – and I have no doubt the support will just continue to grow. I hope that this post can help anyone in some way, whether it is better understanding what mental health is, or even if it makes you realise that life isn’t as perfect as what it appears online. There are real people behind these blogs, channels and websites.
I want to end on this. I am unwell. There are chemical imbalances in my brain which I cannot help, and I take medication to help the pain. Just as you would take morphine to ease physical pain.
I suffer with depression and anxiety, but I am no longer ashamed. I am proud, because I am strong – I suffer, but I carry on.