HEY there you. To give you a mental image right now, I’m writing this on the train and I’ve just gone by a circus. The sun is slowly setting and I’m now overly conscious of the fact I’m still wearing my sunglasses (as precautionary measure for a migraine than anything else- honest) So, as I’m having a significantly deep ‘girl on the train’ moment, (and writing everything that’s popping into my head- can you tell it’s been a long day?!) I thought now would be the perfect time to write something for Mental Health Awareness Week. (Aside from the fact that my phone has died and I need to keep myself awake for the next hour so as not to miss my stop.)
So, feeling how I’d imagine Emily Blunt to have felt, say, if her train journeys were real life, (except i’m not drunk, obvs) I’m quite literally rambling away on my keys, and sipping my extortionately priced Innocent Smoothie – as that was the only thing I had time to buy if I wanted to get this train AND survive the journey. Anyway, enough of me. I wanted to post something for YOU guys to relate to.
So I think this Mental Heath Awareness Week came from America, but hey – if it gets us talking about mental health, I’m all for it. Although more people are talking about mental health now, which is obviously great, there seems to be some stigma behind it still. Some stigma behind the stigma. I’ve only seen a few mental health related posts this week, and I can’t help but feel (judging by the lack of ‘likes’) that people see something like that (me included) and feel like it still stands out, like some sort of unusual, away-from-the-norm contemporary art piece, when really, it shouldn’t phase us at all. In the same way that ‘gay marriage’ really doesn’t need that ‘gay’ label in front, mental health really is just heath.
Chances are, somebody will know someone that’s suffered with their mental health, so why are we still, even subconsciously, stigmatising it? Why do we get that uncomfortable feeling when we see someone’s posted a hotline for suicide prevention? I personally find it so sad that people genuinely think that the only escape from their own mind is to leave this world altogether. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve never wanted something to badly in my whole life. To just get out of my head. I even managed to justify that because my mind was so broken and that it was impossible for me to live a normal life again, it would be okay if I just killed myself as there was no other option. F*cking scary really. The mind really can be a frightening place. Like, I was speaking someone I met at a dinner the other week, and they were saying that they’ve had a tough week at work as a girl she knew in the office had killed herself over the weekend. It was a shock to everyone as she had just lost her mother, but had been dealing with it a lot better and was moving on with her life. Or so it seemed.
So just like how you feel you need to be drunk to justify talking about something that’s been left unsaid (like for example a kiss you shared on your last night out with your ‘friend’), we need to change it so we feel we CAN talk about these unspoken things, everyday, when we’re sober. So that if or when disaster does strike and you become victim to your own mind, you’ll feel able to talk to someone about it, without getting a shock reaction and thinking that you are, in fact going crazy. (Mental illness isn’t just about getting depressed, you know). I honestly think that the people who are at most risk of suicide are those who for whatever reason keep it all to themselves and either don’t want to, or feel as though they can’t voice it. But from past experience, voicing your own mental concerns is absolute key to catching it early on – before things dangerously decline, which is unfortunately when professionals actively help you. Once you say things out loud to someone though, it gets it out of your head. Not only that – it gives others the chance to support you, and keep an eye on you. Just because it’s your own mind that’s the problem, doesn’t mean it’s all down to you to fix it. Sometimes we can’t. And when this happens, we need to be reassured that voicing it is the best thing we can possibly do.
Here’s what I’ve also found to be a common misconception: You don’t need to be labelled by a doctor as ‘depressed’ or ‘anxious’, or even ‘psychotic’ to justify what ever it is your thinking or feeling. Nothing in this world is clear cut and it’s perfectly okay to focus on your wellbeing for a second and not be associated with any label. Assessing your own wellbeing is all down to whats not normal for you. If dealing with my mental health has taught me anything, it’s the importance of being in touch with your own feelings and even your thought processes. Admitting to yourself how you truly feel. Sometimes that’s all you need to do. Sometimes that’s not enough though and you need to say it out loud (to someone other than your cat). To share the burden of worrying about your mentality. Maybe you’ve been noticing you’re struggling with mornings a lot more lately. Or feel like your swimming against the current. Or realise that feeling happy is now actually quite a struggle. Maybe you’re just having a dramatic day, and you just need to ride it out until you stop and say to yourself ‘Woah why was I feeling like that earlier?!’ Either way, it’s no big deal. Get to know what’s normal for you. And one thing I will say, if you consistently feel that something is ‘off’ with you – trust your gut feeling. Chances are it is. Take action, if you feel yourself sliding – share it. Tell someone, just come out with it. It’s okay to be random sometimes, and chances are their reaction will surprise you. Wash your hair. Change those damn sheets. Txt that friend to meet up. Do what ever it takes to make you feel happy and in control. Be the boss of you.
So yes, let’s talk more about mental health, shout it from the rooftops whilst waving a home-made banner. Mental health is something that affects us all – not those with a diagnosed mentall illness. Health is health. Just like you would go to A&E for immediate physical treatment (and mental now actually if you’re suicidal) you don’t have to be in a ‘crisis’ to ask for immediate help. I found a number the other night that I called when I couldn’t get rid of these weird feelings of anger and irritability that were keeping me awake. It was freaking me out as I’m not normally an angry person (until I watch the news) and I ended up talking to a lovely chap about the moon. Needless to say, it calmed me down enough for me to thank him and fall asleep seconds later. He said I could call any time. ANYWAY, just like you’d look out for the signs that something’s not right with yourself, get to know the signs in others around you too. If they’re afraid to speak up, who knows, you just might save their life.
Mental health awareness isn’t just about making us all aware that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed in the world. To me, it’s being aware of your own mental health, and the mental health of others. Life is bloody hectic these days, and if 13 Reasons Why has taught us anything (not that I’ve finished watching it yet), it’s that we often underestimate the fact that anyone at anytime, can just choose to end it all. Even when you least expect it. All perhaps because they didn’t feel they could talk about it, and/or because either they or others were simply not aware.
For more information on Mental Health Week (turns out it is a UK thing) the Mental Health Foundation tell us all we need to know here (including the national green ribbon campaign #endthestigma).
They also have a good list of how to reach out for some support on this page. Despite all this talk about lack of funding, there’s a hell of a lot out there.
The Samaritans offer 24 hour support (you don’t have to be in a crisis)
Call 116 123
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll leave you now to carry on with your Friday. Speaking of which,
HAPPY FRIDAY Y’ALL