We all go through life being told to ‘chin up and smile’ because positive thinking can cure all your troubles. Depressed? You will be right as rain in no time, lost a loved one don’t worry time is a great healer. No matter your predicament there appears to be a solution for everything. The truth is ultimately a lot darker and when it comes to grieving, mental health or other related issues I believe that society chooses to turn the other cheek. Now hear me out, how many of you have been told to smile because it will make you feel better only to realize that you are just acting out the part of a character that is not ‘you’. How many of you are forced to pretend you are something you are not, because those around you are too scared to acknowledge what you are going through?
When I pretend to be happy I feel like a fraud but when I am honest about how I feel I am condemned for being ‘negative’. It seems to be an endless cycle I can’t escape and the only way out is to pretend that I am ok. I tell people I am fine when I am clearly not because I don’t want them to worry about me and I want to pretend that I am stronger than people think. But and its a big but; since becoming a blogger I have slowly come to terms with my mental health issues and have been less afraid to ‘truly’ speak my mind.Over the last year or so I have learned to not ‘hide the way I feel’ and be more up front about my feelings with both the people around me and myself. Because the biggest ‘disbeliever’ was me, who truly believed that all those people who told me ‘I was just sensitive’ or being a ‘complete drama queen’ was right. But hell, what do they know? It’s time we be more upfront with both ourselves and loved ones because whether they want to hear it or not, mental health issues is far more common than they would like to admit.I believe as an ambassador for mental health it is my duty to be honest and the first line of duty is to admit that it is ok to not be ok. If you are feeling down don’t hide your true feelings because you don’t want to be judged or spend years shrouded in your own negativity because you feel like your mental health is a burden. Instead be honest; the people that care will stick by you and if someone chooses to not acknowledge your mental health struggles, then they are being ignorant and all toxic influences should be removed from your life in order to create a better ‘healing process’.
Mental health should never be seen as a burden and I want to be able to place more emphasis on government led services such as counselling, therapy and awareness campaigns to rehabilitate mental health sufferers and show them it is ok to ask for help. My own mental state of mind is completely damaged because I was not offered the help I needed nor did I acknowledge that I had mental health issues because I didn’t want to be seen as ‘insane’. As someone whose family has a history of severe mental health issues, I was taught that to be depressed, anxious or exhibit behaviors that deviated away from the social norm was to be abnormal and abnormalities often meant that you would become sectioned.
I have an uncle with severe mental health issues and his mental state of mind –despite being in his 40’s- is of someone 20 years younger, yet unlike other family members I never judged him nor did I pity him because he didn’t need my pity he needed the help he never received. When he did something that was considered a danger to society he would be carted off to a temporary asylum and stayed for a few weeks at most before being ‘let off his leash’ yet he was never given the support and counselling he needed. His mental health was often viewed as a joke and people would label him as an ‘idiot’ which saddens me because mental health does not have an impact on your intelligence nor should he be segregated into the role of a cardboard cut-out stereotype. Every few months he will suffer a relapse and so the cycle continues with his health deteriorating by the second. I worry about him because I have seen the way that people laugh at him and the society that he lives in sees disability and mental health as something to be ashamed of.
Is our society really so backwards that they must label people with mental disabilities and health issues as ‘retarded’, a ‘spaz’ or ‘stupid’? I despise all these labels because it should be ok to talk about mental health issues without being judged for speaking out and it should be ok to be open and honest about our own battles with mental health. It is my belief that we ‘label’ things that we don’t understand because to us that is how we ‘make sense of the world’. But using ‘negative labels’ like calling someone ‘stupid’ simply because they might have a personality disorder or show symptoms of other mental health issues does not make it fair for us to judge them on the basis of ‘ill conceived pre-conceptions’ or archaic stereotypes. Instead, show compassion and show support; if a loved one is unable to deal with their emotions do not call them a drama queen, if a loved one hears voices in their heads ‘don’t call them crazy and above all if a loved one states that they are feeling ‘suicidal’ don’t ignore them, instead reach out an olive branch and promise to be there for them, every step of the way.
After childhood and teenage trauma I found it difficult to rebuild my self-confidence and be confident in my own skin but I found that acknowledging my own mental health issues was the first step to dealing with my demons rather than burying my head in the sand every time the demons struck. And this is the issue; we are taught that hiding the way we feel and acting like ‘normal human beings’ is standard protocol when in reality how can we define normality? One day my uncle appears to be mentally sane and the next he has forgotten how to handle money and is giving it all away or other days he is playing with fire. One minute I feel happy and the next I feel like my world has come crashing down and there is no way out of the darkness. But this is the point I am trying to make; stop trying to label mental health as something to be dismissed and stop discouraging men, women, girls and boys from coming forward and being able to step forward with candor. While I am now at the stage where I feel comfortable enough to share my struggles with anxiety and depression there have been many periods during my life where I was forced to suppress my feelings, where I was angry at being ‘so god damn emotional all the time’. I was taught that it was not ok to cry and that I was just being a ‘baby’ when most of the time I was ‘crying for no reason’. But here’s the thing; crying does not make you weak, your past does not define you and ‘noone cries for no reason’. Behind every emotion is a trigger and whether you know the root cause or not, it’s ok to not understand how mental health issues work.
I hope that we now live in a world where coming forward about mental health issues is not ‘seen as scandalous’ but instead celebrated by others, who too have struggled to come to terms with their own mental health. I hope that we have moved past this ‘archaic stereotype’ of mental health issues making you ‘crazy’ and that society begins to recognize what it must implement in order to support our mental health needs. Instead of using all our hard earned taxes to fund Mp’s ridiculously lavish lifestyles, how about you do something about the disastrous NHS ‘mental health’ referral schemes? It’s not fair that young vulnerable children are forced to wait months, sometimes years, when they are struggling to hold on. After all, after years of struggling to gain access to the mental health support services that I needed, there are issues which to this day still need ‘resolving’. I still have problems trusting others, after being abused by a parent figure that I was meant to call my stepmum, I have problems with perception of self, after being bullied about the way that I looked and when someone uses a certain ‘tone’ of voice or makes an off hand comment- that they might not have meant maliciously- I take it personally and struggle to see them in the same light.
And don’t even get me started on Doctor’s and GP’s attitudes towards young vulnerable adults, who prescribe pill after pill, without bothering to diagnose the root cause of a person’s mental health issues. At one point I was on so much medication that the side effects of each pill was making me feel even more suicidal than I was in the first place. Thankfully, I managed to wean myself off my ‘pill dependency’ but so many others will be on pills for life, because it is the only coping mechanism that they have been given. I mean sure, pills help to an extent but what about counselling? What about CBT? Why are so many people driven to taking their lives and why is there not more support networks in place to aid those with mental health issues? Some things we may never know but one thing is for certain; whether you know someone who suffers with mental health issues or are a ‘sufferer’ yourself, always find a reason to keep fighting. Because when you give up the fight, that’s when your world will come crashing down …
What Are Your Thoughts On Mental Health?
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