I’ve had this post written up since World Suicide Prevention Day and it’s been sitting in my drafts whilst I’ve contemplated when to post it. It is always difficult to pluck up the courage to have a conversation about mental health, when there are so many negative connotations attached to it. However, this is something we can no longer fear as a society and I feel it’s so important to speak up about it! It’s something so close to my heart, with having personal experience and also wanting to pursue a career in Psychology, and I really hope I can shed some light as to why it’s so important to talk about.
Mental illness is more apparent in our society than ever before with more and more people reaching out for help each day. Although it’s much more accepted than it used to be, we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that there’s still so much negative stigma surrounding mental illness. A mental disorder should not be dismissed just because there are no broken bones involved, a broken mind is just as deteriorating. It may not be a visible illness, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
It’s thought that 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. Just let that sink in for a minute. Think about it next time you’re on the bus to work, eating dinner with your family or walking through a crowded street. You can walk past hundreds of people per day who are suffering and have no idea. It’s almost certain that someone you know and love has experienced a mental illness in the past/could be experiencing it right now and most likely suffering in silence, as 2/3 of those with a diagnosable mental illness will never seek help.
The World Health Organisation have estimated that every 40 seconds, somebody commits suicide and they believe that by 2020, this will increase to one death every 20 seconds. Although this sounds terrifying, we can do something about it.
As a society and as a community, we need to start talking about mental health, take a stand and end the silence. We need to be a friend, a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold. If you know someone who hasn’t been doing too well lately, drop them a message. If you haven’t spoken to someone in a while, let them know you’re thinking about them. It’s the little things that can really make a difference to someones life. Negative stigma is the largest obstacle to recovery and if we can eliminate that, we are already half way there.
When I was ill, I was young and afraid. I truly believed that I was trapped and couldn’t talk to anyone as I didn’t know how they would react. I felt completely alone in a world that I didn’t think I could handle anymore and all I did was push people away to sink further into my thoughts. One of the main things I believed is that I was selfish. I had a roof above my head, food in my fridge and the most amazing family and friends, so why did I feel this way? I couldn’t find a reason as to why I wanted to stay in bed all day, avoid everyone and everything, so I didn’t have the right to feel upset… right? Wrecking your head trying to pin-point the definitive cause of your mental illness isn’t worth it, as it doesn’t have to string from one traumatic life event. Mental illness is just like many physical illnesses, the onset can begin at any time with no apparent cause. Don’t kick yourself for being down.
Recovery can begin with treatment, a conversation, a hug from a loved one, a day spent in bed watching Netflix, a stroll to clear your head, surrounding yourself with people who care, who can reassure you that really, everything is going to be okay. Take that risk, wear what makes you happy even if you get stared at by old people, eat the pasta that is 102% of your daily fat intake, take a mental health day and give up all responsibility, as long as you know you can get back on track the next day. Take up a hobby that you’ve always been interested in, learn how to play the sport or instrument you claimed to on your CV. Do what makes you happy and you’ll find yourself again.
Recovery is difficult but talking makes it run so much smoother, and knowing that I could finally stop bottling up how I felt was like a light shining through a tunnel I had spent years walking down with no clear destination. Years on, I can finally say that I am fully recovered and so happy with where I am, who I am (apart from maybe my obsession with carbs) (especially pasta) and the support I have. I am so lucky to have friends, family and a boyfriend who support me no matter what and shower me with love 25/8.
My journey has inspired me to study Psychology at University and pursue my dream of helping others to overcome their struggles. To convince them that in the end, happiness is achievable and life will go on. Mental illness is an invisible killer, but together we can bring it into the light.
I apologise if this is a morbid topic but it’s something I feel so strongly about and I believe that talking about mental health is so important. Hopefully one day, stigmatisation will be a problem of the past. But for now, thank you so much for reading! If you do feel a little down, I’ve attached a picture of me as a child to make you feel better.
If anyone who is reading this is struggling with their mental health, it’s so important to remember to be kind to yourself and be patient with yourself. Accepting that you may have a mental illness can be daunting. Some days you may conquer the world, others you may struggle to leave your bed, and that’s okay. Progress takes time and healing isn’t always linear, but it will be worth it in the end. If anyone needs to talk, I’m always here. However, these guys are pretty good at lending a hand too…
- The Mix – I’ve been training with The Mix to become a digital connector and I’ve never come across such compassionate people. If you need someone to talk to about ANYTHING, these guys can point you in the right direction. You can access help through online web chats (also mentioned below), by email or by phone, whatever makes you most comfortable. Visit themix.org.uk or call 08088084994.
- Samaritans – 116 123 (Open 24 hours a day, willing to listen to anything that may be upsetting you, including thoughts of suicide and self-harm)
- National Suicide Prevention Helpline – 1800 273 8255
- Anxiety UK – 08444 775 774 (Only open Mon-Fri 9:30 am – 5:30 pm)
- No Panic – 0844 967 4848 (For sufferers of OCD and panic attacks, open daily 10am – 10pm)
- Beat – 0808 801 0677 – ADULTS or 0808 801 0711 – UNDER 18’s (Eating disorder line)
Or if you’re not up for talking on the phone, there’s loads of online help available too such as one-to-one chats and forums…
- The Mix – http://www.themix.org.uk/get-support/group-chat
- Kooth – https://kooth.com/
- Childline – https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/1-2-1-counsellor-chat/
- 7 Cups – https://www.7cups.com/