Today, 10th October marks World Mental Health Day, which personally I think is an amazing day. I can’t emphasise how much making people aware that the illnesses you can’t see, are just as important as the illnesses you can see.
It’s quite sad that in today’s society people still shut down a conversation when it has anything to do with mental health, or they completely avoid the topic. Why? From previous experiences, it’s not because that person is being arrogant or rude, it’s more to the case that the person doesn’t understand mental health, an illness that they can’t physically see. And that’s why I think that World Mental Health Day, is so, so so important, because it really is increasing the awareness of something which a lot of people are so passionate about, and have suffered with themselves. I myself, am one of those people.
A few years ago if someone mentioned the word mental health, I would avoid the subject and refuse to believe that what I had was classed under that category. Because it doesn’t exactly sound nice does it? But over the last year or so, I have been faced with so many different challenges, and one of the crucial things that I have learnt is to not be ashamed about my sufferings.
A mental illness is the same concept as a physical illness, but because a lot of people don’t understand they cower away. If you had two people, one with for example a broken arm and the other with for example, depression, the majority of people would understand and emphasise with the person with a physical damage to themselves and would find it hard to know what to say to someone with a mental health issue because they can’t physically see what is wrong. And that is okay because from a young age we aren’t taught about these things. You will frequently see people with broken limbs and people get used to it, but unlike physical illnesses, people suffering from a mental health issue could be a completely ‘normal’ and ‘bubbly’ person around you, and you would never know any difference.
But just what is a mental health problem? There are so many different mental health problems, some of which you might not even realise are classes as a mental health problem. The symptoms of each individual mental health problem are common to more than one diagnosis, and as a result of this, you could experience the symptoms of more than one mental health problem at once. A few examples of mental health problems which are both commonly known, and less known, are depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD (obsessive- compulsive disorder), phobias, panic attacks, personaliy disorders etc. Of course, these are only a handful, there are so much more mental health problems and if you want to see a full list, I highly recommend checking out this page on the MIND website, which is also worth a look round to gain more in-depth knowledge on mental health. (http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/types-of-mental-health-problems/#)
I never used to like talking about my issues, because I felt ashamed and embarrassed. But I have learnt, that there is NOTHING, to be ashamed or embarrassed by. It is so scary talking up for the first time, and to this day, I’d say only a very select amount of people know about what I suffered with, even some family members to this day have no clue that their happy bubbly Gabby wasn’t so happy and bubbly behind closed doors. (so if any of you are reading this, then this could become as a huge shock to you!) I suffered from depression, anxiety and as a result panic attacks, and I still suffer from all of the above. At first, I thought you know what, I can cope with this alone, I don’t need to tell anyone about this. And me being the stubborn person I am decided to attempt it alone, which let me tell you, is not the way that a mental health issue should be handled. Eventually, I spoke up. I spoke to someone who I trusted and who I knew could help me. Don’t get me wrong, I trust my parents 100% with my life, but at this point, I still felt ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t want to tell them. And if I’m being honest, they still don’t know the extent that my problems got to because I never let them in. I spoke to my tutor at Sixth Form, and we discussed the best option for me. At this point, I was still a bit in denial about the whole situation and would laugh it off every time someone mentioned it to me. With the help of my absolutely incredible tutor, we went down the non-medication route and got help via counselling and therapy sessions. Which after a while got repetitive, but they did teach me more on how to control what I was feeling.
Some days I would make plans with friends and then cancel last minute, and when I say last minute I mean literally as I was about to leave the door. That’s not because I was being rude, or didn’t want to go out, it was because my anxiety would flare up. The thing is, with mental health issues you can be completely fine one minute, and the next can feel so alone, so anxious, so panicky, so not you and the way that quite a lot of people deal with it is to push people away. I’m going to admit, that I still suffer, but I now have found some great ways to cope with what I am going through, so this is why I am writing this post. If this post helps just one person out there understand just a little bit more, or if it helps one more person get help than that’s all that matters. Obviously, these tips that I’m about to post are just what works for me, I can’t promise it will work for you or whoever is suffering, but there are so many different things you can try and trust me, it might not seem like it but one day you WILL find something that will help you.
SPEAK UP: Yes, I know, it seems VERY daunting at first, but the more people who know about it, the more understanding they will be, and you will build up this security blanket of people who can, and will help you. The first person you tell should be someone you trust so much, and then from there introduce different people, who again you trust and think will be beneficial to you. It feels so reassuring that now my close friends know if I cancel 5 minutes before that it’s not me being rude, it’s me just having a bad day. And that’s what it is, a bad day. You will get through it, it might not feel like it in the moment, but you will. Another thing about people knowing is that they can check up on you. Even a quick “how you feeling” text will be so beneficial for someone suffering. But if you know someone suffering, DO NOT spam them with texts and feel like you need to treat them any different, just have a normal conversation, they’ll appreciate that.
YOUTUBE VIDEOS: Recently, one of my friends introduced me to Barry Mcdonagh on YouTube. Barry posts videos which help people with anxiety/depression/panic attacks etc and help those stuck in the moment of despair. There are so many different videos on YouTube, so do have a look round at what can work for you. Here is Barry’s YouTube.
RESEARCH: It is so important to research your mental health issue and research different methods on what could help you. Don’t be scared to try out different things and see what works best for you.
The one thing that I can’t stress enough is, that you will get through it. In the moment it might seem like the world is against you like this is it. But it isn’t, and you will get through it. I am so much happier now that a lot of my friends know because when I get to that stage I can talk to them and it fills me with so much reassurance.
My DMs on twitter are always open, and if anyone reading this ever wants to chat, please, please dm me and we will chat for as long as you need.