Let's Talk Mental Health - #BeBrave

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

I started my blog and thought that it would be a brilliant pastime that I could focus my attention on, since leaving university, and I love it. It's a space where I can have long rambly rants about things I'm passionate about, whether that be beauty products, lifestyle changes or mental health. I soon realised shortly after joining the blogging world that I wanted to spread awareness surrounding issues with mental health.

I don't particularly feel that people realise the positive impact that just sharing your own personal struggle has. Whether that be helping someone else in need, or generally just trying to spread awareness to beat the stigma. As we are now heading well into 2016, it baffles me as to why there is still such a stigma surrounding mental health. You wouldn't judge somebody for having a broken arm, or a chest infection, so why judge someone who has an issue that you can't always see? You definitely wouldn't tell them to get a grip if they had dislocated a shoulder - so why to someone who has anxiety? or depression? or bipolar? Or any other mental health issue.

When 1 in 4 people will suffer from some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime, I'm still so confused as to why it is still stigmatised. For most people, including me, the stigmatisation of mental health only makes their problem worse. And what's scary is that it's not only from society, but from their family and friends too. 

Discussing my own personal problems is still quite tender for me, and since only recently seeking help, I still find it hard to open up about myself and the daily struggles I face. See, my blog is only very young, and a lot of you probably won't know this but I suffer with Anxiety and Depression. Do you think differently of me now? It doesn't worry me in the slightest if people know or not, but I'm no longer sitting and feeling like I can't speak up, on my own blog, about how I feel because people will view you differently. Although hard for me, expressing myself and letting people know how I feel helps.

I've never really been one to open up when it comes to feelings, neither have I ever really been a person who cared about what people think too much. I'm me. You either like it or lump it, and that's how I've always been. Stubborn. So when it came to actually going to my local GP and trying to explain how I was feeling, you can imagine, it was pretty difficult. Although, I cannot explain the relief you have when you finally ask for help. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay if you're not feeling yourself, to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness. You wouldn't carry on your daily life without treatment for a third degree burn, so why should this be different?

The worst thing for me about being ill is that people don't know how to act around you. They just really don't know what to say or do. I'm from a family that has that 'suck it up and carry on' attitude which they pride themselves on, and it works for them. But it doesn't work for me. Tough love is not what I need right now. The pain is still very tender, and I'm still trying to fit the pieces together in my head as to why I feel like this.

I need caring for. I need someone to tell me they're there for me. I know it's hard for people to understand something that they've never really felt before. But imagine being in my shoes. Confused. Broken. Feeling like there's no one who truly understands me? People act like they want to listen, but they don't actually listen to what you're really saying. They want a quick fix to take the burden away. Yes. Burden. That's how my illness makes me feel - like a burden on people.

I just wish more people would understand that people with depression don't want to feel like they do. People with depression don't want to feel exhausted 24/7. People with anxiety don't want to be jumping out of their skin panicking, when they hear a slight stur at 2am. Nor do people with anxiety want to experience panic attacks - and feel like they're going to die, if the panic doesn't stop. I came across a post on Tumblr that was an incredibly accurate, but not exhaustive list about anxiety attacks, so I'll just leave that here: 

People with mental illness don't want to feel ill. More people should understand that depression doesn't have a face, it could creep up on anyone. Anybody could be suffering, and suffering alone. Depression doesn't have a set of rules where you can just press a magic button and it all goes away. Nor does depression have a time limit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, come on, we're in 2016 we should be able to speak about mental health and no one bat an eyelid. There are so many people suffering in silence, and it's time that we all just looked around and offered a kind hand to help those along the way. I had so many people who messaged me after I wrote my Why I'm Dropping out of University post, and tell me how brave I was. I really appreciated everyone's support but I'm not brave. I'm far from brave. I'm just exhausted and I felt that something needed to be said. Imagine feeling so debilitated by an illness, and not actually feel like you can speak to anyone about it. 

If you know someone who needs a little TLC, send them a message. It doesn't have to be a great heartfelt gesture. Sometimes just some words of encouragement is enough. Or just a simple, I'm here for you. Also, next time somebody throws shade at people suffering with mental illness, tell them to be quiet and get educated. And next time you think you can't carry on - please just shout for help.

Also: one of my favourite bloggers Hannah Gale wrote a lovely piece I saw the other day about Taking Mental Health Sick Days and you should really read it. Not just for the posts content - but her flawless writing style, that makes me wish daily that she was my BFF cus she's that awesome. 

Help me spread mental health awareness:
For those of you (bloggers or not) who are interested let's keep the conversation flowing with the hashtag - BeBrave

It's time to let people know that they don't have to suffer alone. 

And in case you ever need it, they're always there to listen to you: 

If you're a struggling student, there's also Nightline, which is run by students | http://nightline.ac.uk/want-to-talk/find-your-nightline/

All my love,

Soph x

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