I think over the last few months, more and more of my friends have opened up about their mental health and I wanted to look at this and see if I can’t help myself (and maybe others) and take the positives forward.
I’ve struggled, mentally for most of my life and I am not saying I have all the answers but the last say, 5 years or so I’ve been much more likely to tell people about my struggles.
I know that the fear of being considered “different/not sufficient/not good enough” is massive to people, I felt like if I told people I wasn’t well, they would treat me differently. In my own journey with mental illness one of the best pieces of advice I ever got given by a therapist was “be honest”. If someone asks how you are, and you are just grateful to have got out of bed…..SAY IT. It may not help everyone but by showing no fear, you ease others views. Plus, you’ll either find people will double take and try to help or will not pay attention and move on. This helps narrow down the choices as to who is important and cares, and who is just there offering platitudes.
Symptoms I have always suffered with are mostly due to a lack of self esteem. I spent a long time not feeling good enough, for anyone really and that again, my last therapist was really lovely and made me see that I am an incredibly loving person and that I give all of my friends (hell, even my enemies) a lot of slack. If someone is having a bad time I tend to show them the full benefit of the doubt, I am compassionate and this is something that I never extended to my own self. Compassion is a hugely important thing to start to accept, it helps if you give yourself a break every now and again.
Mental health is a very grey area still, each has a way of handling this, not all good, not all bad but I feel that the more “normal” it becomes to talk about it, to show people and be open with those around you the better it will be for everyone.
I used to consider the day I got out of bed and didn’t walk in front of traffic as a good day. I managed to get into work, most days and would be able to cover the pain and sadness I had by laughing, being friendly and just generally as me as possible. It was a damn fine front from the looks of things as there were only ever 2 or 3 friends who would know the fact i’d go and cry every break, or they’d pop by to make sure I was eating and not damaging myself. Without their support Im not sure i’d still be here and I can never thank them enough.
My parents too were a massive boon during these times. I’m so sorry I made them go through this. No one ever wants to let their parents down and I am so lucky that they are as loving as they are kind. I know they didn’t always understand but thankfully they both took the time to support me as and when I needed it. I again, am not sure how I would have coped without them as the days when I couldn’t even face getting up to feed myself they would always be there, tactile, caring, tender and more than anything, supportive.
I consider myself very lucky that the medication was something I stopped myself and the support I was given has helped me to stay as positive as possible in the last few years. I have learned that sometimes, being happy is the main thing to worry about, stop letting other people’s thoughts, comments & looks get to you, you don’t deserve it, you are worth more and no matter what. Make yourself happy as those who love you will be happy for you, plus, I found when I was doing things that I enjoyed, I was happier as a person generally.
I wish I had all the answers, that there was a magic wand I could wave to help my friends and loved ones. I cannot obviously do this but wish that my friends who are suffering know that they have an ally in me. Sometimes you just need to be there to offer tea, company, an ear to talk to, a shoulder to cry on and the patience to listen. Unfortunately, having been in one of the darkest places i’ve ever been in my life, I know that reaching out for help from others is just not an option, or that it feels like i’d be a burden. It can be a real tough choice, or one that at the time, you have no fight for.
I have added web links and phone numbers for organisations to contact if you feel you need support or care. Please do not suffer alone. Please tell someone, you are so worth special and amazing things and just because your mind may say something else, you ARE important. I say that i’m here for anyone who needs it and mean that. I am always here, at the end of a phone or some form of communication and I hope that if people need me, they would reach out. We’re all in this together and the love is the important thing for me, love for friends, family and people in my life and the way we can try to work together to help everyone’s journey.
If you feel the need to reach out, use this info below (if you’re in the UK) and if you just want to talk to a stranger, message me. PLEASE DON’T STRUGGLE ALONE.
116 123 is the number for Samaritans – they are good at being able to listen and just take some of the burden away from you. They are 24 hours and a great place if you feel lost.
http://www.turn2me.org are a wealth of knowledge and can be good at pointing you into the areas that may help most.
http://www.mind.org.uk – a mental health charity, again a great place to turn to if you feel lost.
Of course, if you feel alone, or like you’re not coping as well as you normally would do, please TALK. To your doctor, your family, your friends. ANYONE. Do not suffer alone, you are a warrior and no matter how bad you feel, things will get better. It may not be super quick, but you will most definitely get better.