So World Mental Health Day was yesterday and I joined people in my immediate circle and online in talking about mental health and the importance of talking about it. But I’m posting today because mental health isn’t a topic that should be reserved just for discussion on October 10th. Mental health affects people every day, in ways we do and don’t hear about, and it simply isn’t good enough to ignore it for 364 days out of every year.
My nearest and dearest know about my struggles with anxiety to a point. Sometimes it becomes so hard to explain that you either feel like you’re going in circles or dramatising, especially when the trigger for a particularly bad day or night is unclear. Online I’m very vocal about mental health and the problems that can arise from assuming that if someone is smiling then they’re clearly doing just fine. A smile doesn’t mean everything is OK. If, like me, you’ve learned over the years to deal with anxiety, depression and panic attacks then you’ll also have learned to put on a brave face to show the rest of the world, because the sad truth until very recently is that mental health has always been a topic to keep quiet about. A topic with a stigma attached to it.
You can still sit in a doctor’s surgery and see leaflets about every illness under the sun apart from mental illness. Doctors still wear doubtful expressions when you explain your symptoms. Diagnosis takes a long time and a lot of jumping through hoops (see also: women’s and gynaecological health). Taking medication is seen as doing something weak, when it’s no different to taking a painkiller to combat a headache. When we finally treat physical and mental illness the same in the wider world is when progress will truly have been made.
But things are changing. People are talking more, to their friends and to therapists and to strangers online (hi, like this post for example) and in doing so the wall separating those who struggle with anxiety, depression, bipolar, identity disorders, etc etc etc from those who don’t is crumbling. It’s becoming more commonplace to discuss how we feel and how things affect us. And I want to continue that conversation every day, not just on the days which start with a hashtag. Even celebrities are opening up about their struggles, and I really admire those who use their platforms to encourage and help others through sharing their own experiences. But even more so, I admire every single person who has struggled for waking up today and carrying on, because that takes some super strength.
My inbox is always open to anyone who needs it.
How are you feeling today?