Today is World Mental Health Day. Did you know…
1 in 4 people are living with mental health illnesses
1 in 10 young people experience mental health issues
9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination
To help raise awareness and get people talking about Mental Health issues, I ran a guest post series on my site this month, inviting writers to put pen to paper (or finger to screen) about their own experiences.
A number of talented and brave bloggers contacted me and I was honoured to share their personal stories and articles. Here are just a few snippets of the great writing that made this series so relevant and relatable:
“When I was asked the question about thinking about ending my life, I answered ‘some of the time’, while quickly adding, I couldn’t do anything to harm myself. When I explained why I’d answered in that way, the counselor said he understood completely. I knew he would, I knew because of a long term illness, a lot people think that.
But what would he have said if I’d said, sometimes I’m just too unhappy to carry on? What if I’d said that the amount of unsupportive people who not only don’t understand, but don’t want to understand, just made me think it’s not even worth carrying on? I can’t make people understand my issues, some people are just too uneducated and ignorant to even want to understand. Because on a smaller scale sometimes, I do feel this way-and that scares me, let alone what it would make people who know me, think or feel!” From Anxiety and Depression: My Story by Mayflower Blogs
“The Anxiety Monster LOVES it when you keep that knot in your stomach to yourself and plaster on a fake smile. The last thing he wants is for you to ‘out’ him. Typical bully mentality. So he will whisper lies in your ear to keep you silent. That you’re just too weak to cope with day to day hassles. That you’re just too ‘uptight’. That no one will take you seriously. That there’s nothing people can do anyway. As long as you believe those lies you remain powerless within a cloud of anxiety.Please please please. If you’re reading this and you struggle with anxiety don’t let it become a dirty little secret. Visit your GP. Tell a friend. Contact an organisation. Just talk to someone. Help is available. You don’t have to do this on your own. It’s not your fault.” From How to Scare the Anxiety Monster by Learning to be Mrs C
“I used the term ‘fog’ as there are no rights or wrongs, no person self harms for the same reason another might nor do they harm in the same manner, some make cuts that vary in size and depth, usually in hidden locations, hence that the statistics that surround self harm are just as vague – it’s thought that 13% of 11-16 year old’s will self harm at some point, more worryingly is how many teenagers never tell a soul, seek help or confide, they are the missing statistics. Self harm can also be an eating disorder, self bruising, cutting / marking, abuse of alcohol / drugs.” From She’s Still a Princess by What My Fridge Says
“When I was asked by my health visitor and midwives how I was doing, I plastered on a fake smile and reassured them that things were going perfectly. I was desperate to prove myself, to prove that I could do this. After around 4 – 5 months, I was running on auto-pilot. Wake up, feed baby, sleep for an hour or so, make food, clean, work, nap on the sofa, bathe, feed, change nappies, smile, entertain guests, cry in secret…” From PND: A Young Mothers Story by Thirty Something Belle
“Now that you’ve read this and you’re thinking back to all the times I behaved strangely and you dismissed me as ‘weird’. I hope you can find a bit of compassion and understand that I was actually going through a pretty shitty time. You see, I was fighting a battle all day, every day for quite a while. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost and sometimes I just gave up and didn’t even try because I was so exhausted by it all.” From Agoraphobia: An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Me by Admissions of a Working Mother
You can read the full articles by clicking on the links above.
Our intention was to speak openly and honestly about mental health issues and get people talking about topics that are often a bit taboo. We worked together to share our posts on our blogs and social media sites and I was so impressed with the feedback we had. Many people replied and commented on our articles, talking about their own experiences and concerns. Here are just a few of the responses we received:
I HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER, WHICH I’M CURRENTLY IN TREATMENT FOR. IT’S HARD, I KNOW, AND WHEN PEOPLE DON’T GET IT, AND MAKE JUDGMENTS, IT MAKES IT EVEN HARDER. IT’S NOT A CHOICE, WHAT WE HAVE, IT’S AN ILLNESS, BUT BECAUSE WE DON’T GET SPOTS OR A RASH, PEOPLE DON’T SEE THAT. HUGS! BRAVE POST.
THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT POST. I AM DREADING MY CHILDREN’S TEENAGE YEARS – IT MUST BE SO HARD TO STAY CLOSE AS THEY GROW UP AND GROW AWAY
I UNDERSTAND TOO THE FEELINGS OF NOT WANTING TO CARRY ON WHEN (FOR ME) THE FEAR AND CONFUSION GET TOO GREAT. ITS A HARD ONE TO EXPLAIN TO SOMEONE WHO HAVE NEVER SUFFERED FROM IT. I DONT WANT TO DIE, HONESTLY I DONT BUT I DONT WANT TO CARRY ON IF THE FEAR CONTINUES.
PND TERRIFIES ME AND I THINK WE NEED MORE AWARENESS OF THIS AND SENSITIVITY. I KNOW NOW THAT ONE OF MY FRIENDS BATTLED IT FOR MONTHS (BEFORE I MET HER) THAT TURNED INTO A GERM PHOBIA. SHE SAYS TO THIS DAY IT RUINED HER FIRST MONTHS AND IT DIDN’T HAVE TO IF THOSE WHO WERE ABLE TO HELP WERE LESS DISMISSIVE
BRILLIANT POST! I’M A FELLOW MOTHER WHO SUFFERS WITH ANXIETY AND CAN TOTALLY RELATE TO EVERYTHING YOU’VE WRITTEN ABOUT.
SO IMPORTANT TO GET INFORMATION OUT THERE AND KEEP TALKING ABOUT THESE ISSUES SO WE CAN TAKE AWAY THE STIGMA AND PEOPLE GET THE HELP THEY NEED.
I CAN SO RELATE ON THIS POST! I AM ELUSIVE TO PEOPLE NOT BECAUSE I DONT LIKE THEM BUT BECAUSE THERES A WAR INSIDE ME.
BRILLIANT THAT YOU ARE SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCE – I THINK THE MORE PEOPLE THAT SHARE THEIR PND EXPERIENCE OPENLY, THE BETTER PEOPLE WILL UNDERSTAND IT. I FIND IT AMAZING THAT SUCH A TABOO EXISTS AROUND IT WHEN SO MANY PEOPLE SUFFER FROM IT SO YOU’RE DOING A GREAT THING BUT SHARING YOUR STORY HERE
So, I just wanted to say thank you to Lisa, Jemma, Lucy and Heather for being fearless and embarking on this project with me. I have to say it made me feel quite liberated, it was quite therapeutic in itself, just writing about my agoraphobia and hanging it all out there for the world to see!
Thank you also to all those who took the time to read and comment, it was greatly appreciated.
If this series proves one thing, its that you are not alone. There are hundreds, thousands of people struggling with mental health problems everday. All you have to do to get help is reach out and talk to someone.