Mental health is one of those things that we still don't talk about enough. The standard response in the UK is still to say “we are fine” when we aren't and often we can be discouraged from talking about our own struggles as it is seen as a sign of weakness.
As our physical health has ups and downs I have experienced similar with my mental health and wellbeing. In fact anxiety, depressive thoughts and a lack of self confidence were familiar symptoms in my life for most of my teens, twenties and early thirties and I can still find myself defaulting to them at times of stress.
There were days when I couldn't get out of bed. Days when I had thoughts about harming myself. Days when I questioned if I would ever feel “normal”.
In my 41 years on the planet I have learned that:
– The best way to deal with mental health issues is to acknowledge them, I know I used to hope they would go away and that I would feel fine. They didn't. I didn't.
– Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, in fact it is a sign of strength. I remember when I was in a particularly self destructive phase in my 20s my friends asking me to seek help and ignoring them. By admitting to myself I had a problem I would have to confront that problem and that was far more scary for me in that moment.
I didn't seek help until I was ready to accept it and although this can be incredibly hard for those around you this is the only way to help, it is very hard to force people to accept help if they don't feel ready.
– More people than you think suffer from mental health issues and the more that we speak about them the more it will help others. It is okay not to be okay.
– Mental health issues don't discriminate – we can all suffer from them, always be kind and compassionate to others as you never know what they are going through
It took me a long time to get comfortable with the feelings that I had and to come to terms with some of the traumatic events that had happened to me. Part of me will always wish that I accessed the right support earlier on but another part acknowledges that everything that happened to me makes me who I am and I wouldn't change that for the world.