As it’s World Mental Health Day, I feel the need to talk. The stigma that surrounds mental health bothers me, it’s something people should not be ashamed of and I have been ashamed for far too long. I’ve spent my evening looking through social media – the stem of some people’s anxiety issues and have seen such positivity come through it makes me proud. I for one, have anxiety, have suffered severely and still do suffer, if mildly from depression. I have been on and off medication and have long taken the stance of ‘I do not want to be governed by a pill’ and nor will I be My confidence is shot to pieces. Everyday is a learning curve as much as it is a struggle. I find it hard to contain my emotions, and sometimes I really hate that about myself – I sit and sit and over analyse every aspect of my personality until I have torn myself into shreds so much, I wind up in a dark, black hole of overthinking, worry and anxiety. To pull myself out of it can take days or even weeks. Currently, I’m okay, I’m good. I’ve just had a great holiday after the most stressful month of my career to date. I don’t feel stressed at coming back to reality, which is the first time that has ever happened. Why? because I took 12 days out, out of all loops and really took care of myself. I highly recommend it. Switching off from everyone, including your closest friends can be hard, disconnecting yourself from the outside world can be harder sometimes, you have no choice, sometimes you choose it yourself. I went away with the intentions of keeping in touch and realised that actually, I didn’t want to speak to anyone when I was away. As introverted as that was, I had a great time with my friend and discovered a side to myself I didn’t realise could exist. Relaxed and content, with the only thoughts being ‘what can I eat next?’ Whether or not my friend realises it, she was great company in my bid to ‘switch myself off’ from the rest of the world. For that I will forever be grateful.
As for the big ball of anxiety that sits just under my rib cage, where my stomach is that is always gnawing at me? The ball of stress that unables me to eat and constantly feel sick. I can feel it slowly rising up, this content bubble will inevitably burst and I’ll go back to over analysing. It’s conditioned now, I can’t stop it. I want too… and I will try my best to overcome it. But I want people to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel like this, we’re human and human’s aren’t perfect, they are flawed and each flaw within a person helps shape who they are, they are beautiful creatures. It doesn’t matter if you spend your days overthinking, wanting to escape your surroundings or wishing yourself to be a better person. You are the person that you are, whether or not you like it and do you know what? that’s perfectly okay. It’s good to talk, good to question, research, attend seminars, it’s good to face your issues head on. If you’re determined enough to tackle it and conquer the world, then you go for it. If you’re not feeling so conquerable, then just know that people will listen to you if you choose to speak and will be there. Make a list of everything that makes you happy, what your goals are, achievements, everything. You’ll soon realise that beyond what’s crippling you, you are a person and you have achieved a lot in your time on this world.
Start off simple, my friends made me a jar one year, with a bunch of cards. Everytime I achieved something extraordinary (stemming from smiling at that cute boy to getting a new job) I placed it in the jar. It can be as big or as small as you want, if you think it’s a hurdle overcome, then celebrate it! Take up a hobby if you can, my baking is my outlet.
My best friend, for lent told me to give up negativity. Each day I had to tell her something positive about my day, ranging from work, to social to anything in between. It felt exhausting, my life wasn’t that interesting to document a positive event that happened. But things like “my colleague bought me a Costa”, ” my favourite crew were at the unit today” to “I heard Edge of Seventeen on the radio” and “I finally went to the gym” are amongst the examples. Something so simple, every day almost but made an impact on how my day went and what my mood was. Regardless of how silly I felt it was. I’m not saying all of it was positive, I know I had some truly awful days where I couldn’t see light through the trees. But my best friend persevered and when she sent me the spreadsheet documenting the positives, I cried. Because actually, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, those small things were the big things, some of them have stayed with me, some of them are a nice reminder that actually, life isn’t as bad as a deem it to be.
It’s far from over, my battle. But I will continue to smile every day, despite the inner monologue within my head. Because if I’ve learnt anything over the last 12 months, is that I’m a person, my thoughts are valid, it doesn’t matter if those thoughts are part and parcel of my mental health, they are valid and I’m valid. One day, hopefully soon, I’ll realise that I matter and that I won’t let this govern me. I won’t let my inner monologue win so much. I will be strong enough to tell it to do one. Quite frankly. I’m very lucky to have the support I do, from those I choose to confide in. This blog may come as a surprise to people, most of all myself, it’s taken a lot for me to type this, but it’s all from the heart, frank and honest. In fact I have wanted to write about this for months, but couldn’t bring myself to do it…I don’t want to people like myself to continue to be ignored or feel ignored. Because we all need help, it just takes others a little while to admit it.