Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week - It's Okay To Speak Up

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and I don't think I've ever specifically touched on mental health on my blog, and if I have, it's stayed in my drafts as I've been too nervous to post it. Not because I'm ashamed of myself, but I just didn't believe in my writing enough! Since I've been posting on here more frequently this year and solely about the hard-hitting stuff, I really wanted to share something that I hope will strike a chord with at least one person who's struggling in silence.

I think at this point it's more unusual to come across somebody who hasn't got a history of mental health than somebody who has, whereas when I first noticed I was struggling with my mind ten years ago, I truly felt like I was the only person in the world going through it. It's such a sad reality that most of us have struggled or still struggle with depression and anxiety, not to mention the copious amounts of other mental health disorders that are less frequently touched upon. 

From day one of my struggles, I was always willing to speak up. I wasn't trying to prove anything or raise awareness, I just genuinely wanted someone to help me get the hell out of my head and figure out why I felt the way I did. My diagnosis has bounced between depression and anxiety over the years, primarily depression but I'd say I've suffered more with anxiety in later years and that's something I still deal with every day. The best thing I ever did was speak up, (actually, the best thing I ever did was starting to exercise, but speaking up was the catalyst to opening the conversation about my issues). I spent a good few months feeling, and I quote, 'a big black cloud over my head' before I broke down to my Dad and begged for help. At 14/15 years old I'd never even heard of 'mental health' before, and I'd certainly never heard the word depression. I had absolutely no prior influence to accelerate what I was feeling, I just felt deeply unhappy, foggy in my head and scared. I guess you could put two and two together and say that finding out about my Dads cancer diagnosis triggered this, and I know it frightened me to death about the fragility of his life, but the extent of my issues ended up going beyond that and I would fall into the big black hole of depression that I've climbed out of and fallen back into many times over the years due to many different things. 

If I didn't speak up as often as I did, no matter how difficult it was to say the things I needed to say, I probably wouldn't be here. I'd probably never have got to spend so many precious years with my Dad after my mental health improved and I became so much more loving and (mature dare I say). I probably wouldn't have had the billions of phone calls with my mum with that I do, chatting about anything, everything, and making memories with her every day. I probably wouldn't have seen my brother overcome the biggest tragedy of his life because I would've been too afraid to see it through by his side. I probably wouldn't have met the love of my life and travel around the world together. I probably wouldn't have rekindled my friendship with my best friend, and now we catch each other whenever we fall. I probably wouldn't have made so many delicious meals and I definitely wouldn't have tried so many insanely good foods! I probably wouldn't have discovered my passion for baking and the sheer joy it brings me, and I probably wouldn't have seen my favourite shows that have brought me hours of complete happiness.
That doesn't even scratch the surface of the number of incredible things that happened as a result of me staying here, even when that seemed cruel at the time. If I hadn't spoken out, if I hadn't cried for help, where would I be?

Without question, I'm going through the most difficult, devastating time of my life. There have been many times in the last few months where I'd had enough. I haven't got it all figured out, but I do know this, there will always be better days. There will be days where you think you can't see through to the next hour, but you'll get there. The important thing is to talk. You are absolutely not alone, nobody thinks you're strange, nobody thinks you're crazy and nobody thinks you're a failure. You matter. Your problems matter, no matter how big or small you think they are.

I started writing this post at the beginning of the week and decided to pick it up later on. I've picked it up again after settling myself down to bake some blueberry muffins after a difficult afternoon. I spent it crying after going through the collection of photos I have of me and my Dad, (I then made a video of family photos using the song played at his funeral, so I've been a wreck). To be honest, most days are like that. I genuinely don't know how people get it together after such a heartbreaking loss, my world is completely crumbled. Days like this leave me wondering if there's any hope for the future, but as I read over the first few paragraphs of this blog post, I remind myself that there will be better days. I suppose they will be different, but I have smiled and I will smile again. I'll do it all for my Dad, in due time!! (I'm human and emotional). 

So, I've had my reminder and this is yours. You can do this. You can smile, you can laugh and you can be happy. I am a great believer in a problem shared is a problem halved, (my mum taught me this because telling her the crazy nightmares I'd have really lifted the weight off, haha!). So please, talk to someone. Whether that's your best friend, a family member or a GP, take that first step and let it all out. You have no idea how things can transform for you, you have no idea the amazing opportunities that wait for you and the beautiful future you're destined to create. 

If anybody reading this wants to talk about anything, you can always send me a message. 


Samaritans Helpline - 116 123
Mind - Mental Health Charity & Support

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