Mental health awareness 2018
I was unsure on whether or not I should write this blog - clearly I decided to go ahead with it 😅 But the reason why I’ve been so unsure and debating the decision to write and post this is because I feel like I talk about it a lot, then I realised I talk about it a lot yet there are still people trying to undermine this subject being spoken about. So this is what I want to talk about today, about being vocal about our mental health.
As I mentioned, I talk about mental health quite a lot. I write about it, I’ve made events about it, I speak about it in day to day conversation, but if I look back to about 1 and a half years ago, I wasn’t like that. Sure I mentioned that mental health is important and all that jazz, but I was never vocal about my own journey. This was purely because I was unsure on how people would take it: would I become a burden to the person I tell? Will they judge me? Will they only see me for my mental illness and not the woman I actually am? The last one was a major thing for me. I’ve accomplished so much, I have my own business, I go to uni, I moved to another city etc. So for people not to see me for what I’ve achieved and only for the issues I have, that was a massive fear for me. I’m not sure how I overcame my fear, but I did. I think that maybe because I had a friend that was very vocal about her mental health, it influenced me to talk about things and get the help I needed. If I never spoke about my mental health, I would have never progressed. I would have never got healthier (but I did! And I’m getting healthier all the time albeit I have set backs! 🎉).
So I became vocal. I didn’t hide away from my mental health illnesses. I wasn’t going to allow them to overtake my life anymore; I wanted to take control. So I spoke about it. When conversations about mental health came up, I spoke about my experiences. If I was on my way to counselling and people asked me where I was going, I told them. I had nothing to be ashamed of. However, some people tried to make me feel shame. ‘Friends’ that told me they supported and loved me were now undermining my mental health, not taking me seriously. In some ways, it was a hindrance for any progression I was trying so hard to make. Why did these people want to undermine me for something I couldn’t help having but was trying to take control of?
A lot of people do this. A lot of people like to provide unnecessary comments to someone’s mental health. Comments that aren’t supportive or constructive or helpful. Comments that can hurt, that can be a hindrance to people. Why?
Why do people stop you when you’re talking about it?
I have great admiration for everyone that can talk about what they’re going through. if you haven’t experienced any mental health issues then it can be hard to understand what a person is going through, but it is also hard for the person going through it. It’s hard to express in words what it feels like. It can be like an out of body experience sometimes, you can’t ecen recognise yourself anymore because you’re so lost in such a dark place. It is tough.
There are a few people I know that have posted for mental health awareness week (amazing!!!💓) and I messaged my friend to let her know what a great woman she is for overcoming her illness and being vocal about it! She let me know that she was worried about how the post might have been taken. Additionally, someone I follow was talking about how they feel and stuff about their mental health on twitter today and someone said to them on curious cat that they shouldn’t post their thoughts on social media because it’s trriggering and it shouldn’t be said on social media. I’ve linked these two stories together because there are similarities (I hope you can see them aha). It’s crazy how people may take our posts about mental health in the wrong light or see it as triggering. These people were talking about their experiences and their journeys, but there’s the possibility that it’s taken in the wrong way. Neither posts had intentions to be triggering or malicious, the fact that people will tell others not to post about it because it’s triggering undermines that person’s courage. People use social media as an outlet, I think it’s a great outlet.
Another thing that is undermined and pushed away is men’s mental health. Mental health does not just effect women. Men are effected as well, and a great deal of men are effected. We live in a society where men aren’t vocal about most problems in their life, I don’t know if this is because men are trying to maintain their ego or because it’s just a thing men are brought up to maintain. Or is it women? Do we expect men to be this strong egotistical gender that cannot discuss their emotions or feelings? For some women they do expect that, and it is toxic. Very toxic. Any one can experience mental health issues. Men can go through body dysmorphia as much as women. Men can go through anxorexia as well as women. Men can have depression and anxiety. Men are not immune to these illnesses and we shouldn’t shy away from these topics.
If we spoke about mental health, for all genders, without undermining them, without dismissing them, then maybe it would encourage people to get the help they need. So many people have not been able to survive the journey that mental illnesses can take them on, and that breaks my heart. So I’m talking about mental illnesses in order to hopefully influence more people to talk about it and be vocal on their experiences. If someone comes to you to talk about their mental health, do not be dismissive. If you don’t understand - that’s okay, but that is not a reason to become dismissive. I told my best friend what I was going through and she tried to find out ways to support someone with the illnesses I have. That is an example of what to do.
Most people will experience a mental health illness at some point, be supportive. Help people get the help they need. Bring mental health into conversation.
Ask your male friends how they’re doing - you don’t know how much that could help a person.
I hope we can break the stigma around mental health together.
- Nell x
P.S : Below are some links to helplines. Additionally my DMs and emails are always open if you need someone to vent to.
Samaritans : 116 123
The Mix: 0808 808 4994
CALM: 0800 58 58 58 (they also have a web chat)