I have a group of friends from school that I’ve known for almost ten years now. I call them friends from school because that’s what they are, but they are also so much more than that. They are the kind of friends that know you better than you know yourself and they just get you, faults and all.
Over the last ten years there has been a lot of love and laughter but also a few tears, a couple of screaming matches, big fall outs, small fall outs and a passive aggressive tweet here and there. But no matter what, we always show up when it counts and when push comes to shove, we’re always there for each other.
A couple of weeks ago we got together for a few drinks and for the first time had a really honest conversation about our respective mental health experiences. It was just really nice. There was no questioning or explaining, there was no pity or sympathy or judgement. There was just a mutual acknowledgement of the struggles we’d been having on our own.
But coming away from that conversation, I also felt this weird sense of guilt because whilst I’d been very open – talking about my mental health on national news – some of my friends had been struggling behind closed doors and I hadn’t been there for them as much as I would have liked to. But because of the stigma surrounding mental illness it can be pretty hard to come to terms with it yourself, so why on earth would you want to confide in someone else?
Personally, I have learnt that it can be really therapeutic talking about your mental health and knowing that you are helping others but it is also really, really exhausting. Which is why right now as I am going through certain things I feel really closed off about discussing my personal experiences. Even now, I will sometimes look around myself and think “why is that person happy and I’m not?” and I know it doesn’t work like that but it’s just how I feel.
I read the other day that there are over 100 symptoms of anxiety which makes me think that every human being will experience some kind of an anxiety, on some kind of level at some point in their life. So, maybe if we can continue to have these honest conversations about mental health and encourage those around us to feel unashamed to say when they’re not okay then maybe, slowly and surely we might actually be able to break this taboo and help a lot of people find comfort in knowing that they are not alone.
I don’t really have anything to say right now apart from we need to keep talking about mental health so that nobody has to suffer in silence, shame or fear.
So today marks the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week and I just wanted to take a minute to make it all about me. WARNING: Gay shit ahead.
One of the strangest moments of my life was realising I didn’t want to live anymore. I remember being like lol okay, anyway… and shrugging it off as if I was just being my usual dramatic self. It’s a very taboo thing to talk about even in today’s society, so much so that it felt equally taboo to think about it, so I didn’t.
I told myself repeatedly that only people who’ve been through some dark shit are allowed to feel the way I felt. Plot twist: Depression doesn’t give a fuck who you are. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain and it can affect even the happiest, funniest, cuties like me. Now we’re a bad generation for talking about our problems, and I’m no exception, so I was a bit worried that if I went and saw a doctor and she asked me what was wrong I’d just be like ??? I’m fine ??? But I went anyway. I walked in and I just said look, not to be dramatic or anything but I kinda want to die, and she got me started on anti-depressants right there and then. Plot twist: They actually work!
Not only have they made me want to live but they’ve actually made me happy again. I lost my appetite for a bit when I started and I had the shits for like four weeks straight (literally four weeks straight, it was like I was shitting out the depression) but looking back, worth every god damn shit!!! It’s been four months now and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. They’ve made me more confident, more outgoing, and more fun – a little more gay as well but I don’t know if that’ll happen to everyone.
The point I’m wanting to make is we can’t afford for mental health to be taboo anymore. There are too many people who aren’t getting the help they need for us to not be talking about it. I know we don’t want to burden the people around us, and I know it’s a pretty awkward thing to come out and say, but I also know the second I started talking about it the better I felt.
So tell your pals!!! Tell your fam!!! Tell a doctor!!! TALK ABOUT IT. Cause it’s orite not to be orite 😉