Why We Need To Talk About Mental Health
Education is our strongest weapon.
This mental health awareness month we are sharing personal stories from several of our writers – to destroy the dangerous silence around the issue. This is Daisy's story:
Last year I finally opened up about my mental health. I posted some text on my instagram feed explaining how I had been feeling and it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I spent hours typing it up and re-reading it over and over and over. I didn’t want to share too much, I didn’t want to scare anyone away, I didn’t want to have something out there that could be found by ex’s or relatives or employers and could consequently be used against me. But I wanted everyone to know, I wanted everyone to understand, I didn’t want it to be such a heavy secret anymore, so I decided to be brave and I posted it.
Responses flooded in, my friends left supportive comments and loads of people I was hardly even friends with started sending me messages sharing their own stories and telling me they were here for me. And it broke my heart.
It broke my heart because so many people were struggling as much as me, and they were all people I saw everyday; acting like they were fine, not talking to anyone about what was really going on. Yet there was this huge community of us and we could have been helping each other all along if we weren’t all so afraid to speak up. It made me wonder why we were so scared to talk about mental health when so many people actually suffer from mental illness.
The stigma that we have built up around mental illness is dangerous. It makes people ignorant; people who don’t understand what is wrong with them and don’t know how to get help, people who don’t understand why their loved one is behaving differently and make dismissive comments or don’t know how to handle it so choose to ignore it.
Almost 3 years ago I decided to kill myself. It started with feeling depressed, self harm, the break down of most of my important relationships, then becoming suicidal. It is a feeling that I really don’t believe you can describe to someone who hasn’t felt it. I hated myself and my life so much that I no longer cared who I hurt, I just wanted it to end. But looking at where I am now makes me so thankful that I didn’t. I never imagined myself being so happy again, but here I am, at uni living with friends with an amazing boyfriend and a bright, promising future stretched out in front of me.
I’m not going to lie and say that recovery is easy, but it is so, so worth it. I had to go to therapy (3 times to be exact), explain what was going on to everyone around me, and accept all the help I could get so that I could slowly start to feel like myself again - before getting sexually assaulted and going almost all the way back to square one. Recovery is an up and down process and if you slip up its not the end of the world. You can’t just decide to be better and magically be better, you have to gradually change the way you think and you need a supportive group of people around you.
3 years later and I’m happier than I can remember, I still suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, I still feel down sometimes and spend a some days alone in my room. But I’m alive and I’m making a difference. Knowing that the things I have been through could potentially help other people makes me proud, I don’t hide any of my scars anymore but wear them with pride that I was strong enough to make it through – and I love who I have become because of my past.
Our strongest weapons against mental illness are communication and education. So please talk to each other and listen to each other and try to understand each other. If someone you know seems like they’re not being themselves, talk to them, even if someone you know seems fine just treat them nicely because you never know how someone is really feeling – make sure you tell people how much you value them. And finally if you are going through something yourself please remember that you are going to be okay, that you are not alone, and that things will get better – as much as it doesn’t feel like it now.