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


38 thoughts on “Happy World Mental Health Day

  1. This post had me welling up. Someone very close to me has battled depression for many years and goes through good patches and bad patches. Many of the things you imagine above hit home with how they say they feel. It’s such a complex illness and one that many people fail to grasp. You’ll be in my Monday Mentions later x

    • I’m glad it resonated with you. It’s hard being close to someone who sufferes with depression too. I know my other half feels frustrated that he can’t do anything to help (although he does loads to help just by supporting me) or make me better. It hurts him to see me suffer and I’m sure it hurts you to see the person you know suffer. x

  2. I cannot tell you how many of those things I feel today. I too have suffered from depression since I was about 14 but it took years for them to medicate me (hence I have very little memory of my teenage life, I hated nearly every minute!) I went back on medication in the summer and it’s made me feel so much better. However, sadly, today, I’m having one of those days – just a bizarre coincidence that it also happens to be World Mental Health Day.

    Here’s to you Laura and here’s to everyone who has ever suffered from this illness. x

  3. Very touching post, and its great that you are bringing today to people’s attention. I suffered with Chronic Fatigues Syndrome (or ME) from the age of 12 for almost 8 years, and depression is one of the hardest symptoms as it makes you even more tired and lethargic on top of the chronic fatigue. The things that helped me most were Chinese Herbal medicine, and The Lightning Process, which is a combination of CBT and hypnotherapy techniques. Thankfully I am fully recovered now, but I feel for people who still suffer, it is a horrible thing to experience. xx

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, lady. I’m glad to hear you’re recovered CFS is terrible and it’s another one of those illnesses that has such a stigma attached to it. x

  4. What a wonderful post about a tricky subject…..I’ve written one for World Mental Health day too…I think it’s so important that as much as possible is done to make it easier/less scary for those with problems to get in touch with someone who can help…..big hugs and love to you, you write about your difficulties in a way that really rings with me and mine…am very glad you’re doing well now!! xx

  5. thanks for bringing this to my attention Laura… i had no idea. Sorry to hear of your health problems, i hope you find a way of living free from them… i myself have mental health problems too and no how debilitating they are… awareness is definetly needed 🙂 love and hugs xxxx

    • Thanks for commenting, chick. It was actually surprisingly easy but the first post I ever wrote admitting I have depression was another story… Once it’s out there you feel a little bit lighter. xx

  6. Thank you friends for the post and your comments. I believe this is how it suppose to be discussed. It clearly helps to raise Mental Health Awareness among people. Who works along can only add, who work together can multiply. As my beloved teacher said: “Healthy person is not the one who is free of problems but the one who can deal with them” (N.Peseschkian, the founder of Positive Psychotherapy).

  7. Such an honest and open post Babbs. I rarely talk about my own problems usually because I think people will judge or they won’t understand. It’s usually the latter. You’re an inspiration and thank you for talking about this illness! Xxx

  8. What an amazing post. Last year i had a full blown depressive episode. Dropped out of uni, stopped going to work, totally withdrew from people and tried to punish by boyfriend for being with me, because he was the only thing that was stopping me from ending my life. Jump forward 18 months, i’m back at uni completing my final year, the boy and i are to be married and i feel back to myself again. I couldnt have got to this place now without the love and support of those around me, unfortunately not everyone can recieve that kind of support, so posts like this are all that important in showing people they are not alone.

  9. Thanks for writing this. Means a lot to have you write something so open and honest. Having a mental illness is so destructive but its good to know there our people out there that I can connect with xx

  10. Reading this post had me in tears, so many of the things that you wrote were feelings that I had experienced to the letter. Having felt so alone in them, it is an odd sensation to finally hear someone else describe them. Thank you so much for writing this, it means a lot to me.

  11. Thank you for this post. It sums up perfectly exactly how I am feeling at this exact moment in time. I have had depression for many years but only two major episodes, one of which I am currently going through. I lost my companion Mickey (an English Jack Russell terrier) three weeks ago and the loss has sent me into a pit of despair that at the moment, I simply cannot get out of. I am signed off of work (again) and don’t know what I am going to do.

    I wrote about it here on my blog http://spiderplantland.co.uk/?p=7519 if you want to read it. I am now so totally and utterly alone that I am terrified I will do something stupid and my GP is next to useless.

  12. Oh darling.

    Yes, yes, very yes.

    This is so very poignant to me
    “getting signed off work and then spending the whole time you’re off worrying about how people might treat you when you’re back.”

    Such a great post. Not brave, just wonderfully honest.

  13. I didn’t get chance to read this on Monday or I’d have commented sooner.

    I have dealt with so much of the things you asked us to imagine, I’d say I know how you feel but this is such a personal subject that I can only begin to guess how you feel.

    You have been so brave to write this post. I wrote one a long time ago when I first accepted I had these issues, perhaps spurred on by this and others I may just link to it belatedly, the more people are aware the less we have to feel like we do sometimes.

    Thank you for sharing

    Laura x

  14. Thanks for sharing and being open. I appreciate your honesty because this could also help some people who experienced having depression and its good to know that some people could related on this and realize that they’re not alone.

  15. thanks for your honesty, it can be such a hard thing to talk about, and what’s most frustrating sometimes is that people don’t understand that depression is an illness that requires treatment. It’s not a weakness. If you had a broken leg you’d go to the doctors and they would treat it. But because you can’t ‘see’ mental health problems, people don’t understand that it is an illness. I have had depression, two big episodes, I found the strength to do something about it because my mum has had depression since I was about 11. She suffered from pretty deep depressive episodes right throughout my teens and early 20s. And I don’t know if it was shame or what but she never really dealt with it, it was brushed aside and never mentioned. Finally she has received some counselling and CBT therapy and is much better, she still has episodes but they’re no way near as deep and she now has a tool-kit to help her deal with her depression. With my first serious episode, when I was about 20 and at Uni I recognised the symptoms immediately from my mum’s episodes. I knew instantly that I didn’t want to let it consume me so I saw the Uni counsellor, he was very honest and told me he felt he wouldn’t be able to give me the depth of support I needed but he was there until I did get more help. I went to my GP and luckily his wife was a counsellor with a therapy room in-situ at the GP’s practice. I saw Marilyn my counsellor fortnightly for almost a year. That year, for most of the time I felt like I was made of the finest glass, I felt like it would take only a tiny knock to break me into a million pieces, I didn’t want to exist anymore, I wanted to disappear, only to stop this overwhelming feeling of fragility. I hated the fact that one minute I could feel fine, the next minute I could feel like the world was a black place with no hope. My counselling was what got me through. I chose not to medicate, I knew that what I needed to deal with were all my feelings from my childhood about my parents, I knew that talking therapies was what I needed and although it was so hard to deal with some of the things that therapy bought up I knew that it was the only solution. My new boyfriend (now fiance!) found the whole thing very difficult to understand, he’d never experienced depression, he knew no-one who had, initially he thought I should just ‘snap out of it’ he found the whole thing so difficult to comprehend. But he was there, he supported me and he came to understand that it was an illness, that I just needed support. I think the thing he found most difficult to deal with was the fact that he could ‘do nothing’, it was something that I had to deal with, all he could do was be there and he was, and he is. A few years later, having been OK, I suffered with another episode and again turned to talking with a friend of a friend who was a counsellor and a reiki therapist. I don’t know if the reiki ‘worked’ what I do know is that spending that hour resting and looking after my ‘soul’ helped no end and I was taught more ‘tools’ to go in my ‘depression tool-box’ since then I’ve been mostly fine, with some up’s and downs. The second serious episode gave me the realisation that I have depressive tendencies, I will probably have one or more episodes in my life, but I can deal with it. If I am really honest, and I don’t think I’ve ever said this to anyone apart from my first counsellor, the thing that scares me most, the thing that in fact drove me to counselling the first time is the fear that if and when I have children that I may suffer from post-natal depression. If and when I have children I don’t want them to have to live with a mum who is depressed, I did that and I love my mum so much but it was the hardest thing to do, to watch her suffer so much, for so long. I saw her suffer for 17 years, and it breaks my heart every-time I think of it. I know that it’s an illness. I just don’t want to deal with it if and when I have kids, truthfully it is the thing that scares me the most about the future. But I guess that I’ll have to cross that bridge if and when I come to it. I have the tools, I have supportive people in my life, and with people like you Laura, raising the profile and helping people feel able to share their experiences of this often crippling illness, hopefully there will be more understanding from the wider public. Sorry about the giant comment, initially I didn’t want to say anything, then I thought about what you were doing and felt that it’s important to contribute. Then I started writing and all this came out!

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