Happy World Mental Health Day
Happy World Mental Health day, everyone. You might think that’s a funny thing to say – surely mental health issues aren’t something to celebrate?
Well you might not celebrate having a mental health issue but you certainly should celebrate the fact that World Mental Health Day exists as a way of raising awareness and removing the stigma of mental health.
Of all the illnesses in all the world, mental health (aside from STDs, probably…) are among the least talked about yet, according to Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, around 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health problems every year. So that means that someone you know has experienced a mental health issue in the past or is experiencing one right now.
I’ve talked openly on this blog about my depression in the past. I was diagnosed (and medicated) at 14 and I’ve struggled on and off over the years. I’m writing this post now, and I’ve written posts about this in the past, in the hope that me being open and honest about my experience might help someone else who is going through the same thing.
Anyone who has suffered with a long term illness will tell you how debilitating it is. With depression your low mood leads to a lack of sleep which exacerbates your low mood and makes you feel anxious and scared. But that description doesn’t really do it justice.
Imagine you wake up in the morning and you just can’t get out of bed. The thought of getting out of bed is so terrifying to you that you feel paralyzed. You just know that if you do get out of bed, you will be unable to cope with what ever happens to you that day without crying or breaking down or having a panic attack.
Imagine that you’re the most tired you have ever been in your life yet you slept for 15 hours last night.
Imagine that you feel so tired that you can’t get excited about anything and the things you usually like to do hold no interest for you.
Imagine you feel as though you have run out of things to say.
Imagine you switch between feeling completely empty and feeling as though you might die from the sadness that you feel.
Imagine that these feelings often come on without warning and when people ask why you feel this way, you can’t explain it because there is no good reason and then you feel guilty because you have a good life and you should be grateful.
Imagine that society doesn’t really understand the problems that you suffer with so instead of explaining your illness to your manager and taking time off work to recover, you drag yourself into work and sit at your desk trying to pretend that you feel normal or you lock yourself in the toilet and have a silent panic attack, before trying to carry on and exhausting yourself even further.
Imagine getting to the point where you can’t carry on as normal and getting signed off work and then spending the whole time you’re off worrying about how people might treat you when you’re back.
Imagine suffering from crippling self-esteem issues that cause you to question and criticize everything about your self all of the time.
These are some of the things you experience when you suffer with depression and a combination of stigma and British reserve means that we don’t really talk about mental health as an issue, so lots of people suffer in silence and don’t feel able to get the support the need when the experience depression or anxiety.
Weirdly it’s probably easier for me to deal with my depression because I’ve suffered with it for such a long time. I don’t feel any shame in going to the doctors and asking for the help that I need, although I don’t tend to broadcast it to people that I don’t know very well.
Lots of people, especially those who experience depression for the first time, find it hard to admit that they’re not coping and find it even harder to ask for help.
I am (still!) well and happy currently. It’s been a while since I’ve had a full blown episode but I still have my bad days/weeks/times and I feel fairly sure that I always will.
Happy Mental Health Day. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have experienced depression or other mental health problems and please pass this on if you feel it might of of use to anyone.
And here are some useful Links:
Mind – The UK’s foremost mental health charity, with a free advice line
Living Life To The Full – A FREE online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programme that can help you to change negative thinking patterns
Anxiety UK – a resource for people suffering with anxiety disorders
NHS info on Depression and treatment options