18th-24th May is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK. I couldn’t let the week go passed without at least one post about mental health. Due to the current global pandemic, I feel that now more than ever it’s important to be able to open up about our mental health and not feel ashamed or judged for talking about it
The Importance Of Talking About Mental Health
My own mental health journey started a long time ago, probably as early as childhood. I have a vague memory of seeing a child psychologist but can’t remember the outcome, neither can my mum. As a teenager growing up in the 90’s I saw through television and the media that speaking about mental illness was something that a person shouldn’t do, it was something to be ashamed of or a sign of weakness!! I saw family members deal with depression and vowed that I wouldn’t want to rely on medication. Because of that when I realised that I might be suffering from depression I refused to make an appointment with a doctor, I didn’t want to talk about it with friends and family.
I internalised the majority of my feelings until it got the point in my early 20s where I tried hurting myself with scissors. I showed a friend what I had tried to do, to this day I am not sure why I did it or why I showed her. I guess that was my cry for help, I wanted someone to see that I was in pain. Seeing her reaction made me realise that I cannot internalise my struggles anymore and that I need to speak up about depression.
After speaking to a doctor and taking anti-depressants I began to feel better. I’ve been off and on anti-depressants ever since. I honestly cannot remember what it feels like to be normal and not touched by some form of mental illness.
It is so important that if you or someone you care for is showing signs of mental illness, to encourage them to speak up, to make a doctors appointment and get the help. If I had continued to be stubborn and not talk about it, not show my friend what I had tried to do I do not what path my life would have taken.
Now More Than Ever
With the majority of lockdown measures still in place, especially in Scotland. Many people are feeling alone because they haven’t seen friends or loved ones in weeks. They feel that they have no-one to turn to or nothing to feel hopeful about. In the past nine or ten weeks, I’ve had more than a few moments of loneliness, and I have my son and husband with me. I can only imagine what it is like for people on their own.
This is why we need to speak openly about mental health. It is 2020 yet mental health is still seen by some as a taboo subject. It is still thought of as being weak. I’ve seen men, in particular, talking about their mental health, with comments like man up. It’s this stupid way of thinking that it is no surprise that in 2018 male suicide accounted for three-quarters of all suicides in the UK, three quarters!! Many of which might have been preventable if society didn’t treat the subject of mental illness as something one simply doesn’t talk about.
I know that we all have a lot going on at the moment and that we cannot check in on all of our friends and family, but if you can spare a few minutes here and there, get in touch with someone you think might be struggling with their mental health right now. You never know a simple “hi, how are you?” can make a huge difference.
If you feel that you are in need of support please contact your nearest helpline such as the
And please know that you are alone.