World Mental Health Day by Lesley-Anne Thompson
Today is World Mental Health Day. I’ve been mulling over what to write; it’s something I’m so passionate about. I’ve worked in mental health and seen first hand how the illness and stigma can ruin people’s lives. I’ve experience it every day with family members, friends and myself. I’ve conditioned myself to living with it following years of uncertainty; a period of which was spent on anti-depressants. I tell myself it’s a part of who I am now. I still have days I want to fight it and feel overwhelmed by it but I’ve learned to not let it consume me and if I’m honest, it’s a choice I have to actively make every single day when I wake up.
In writing something today, I didn’t want to come across as disingenuous, rushed or just posting something for the sake of it. I have mixed views about sharing personal struggles on social media. A lot of the time, I think no one will be interested however I’m all too aware that sharing your own account helps others immensely. Personally, I’ve read numerous posts, articles, stories that have helped me get through tough days; but I’m also aware that you can only tell your own story when you feel wholly comfortable in sharing it. It’s not something I’d want to force upon anyone. So with that being said, I’m not going to go into anymore detail about myself.
I do want to say to whomever may read this in the hope it might help just one person. I’m by no means an expert but what I do know is that you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with your mental health: talk to someone, hide away or simply cry; be selfish, pessimistic, angry; take all the time in the world to yourself but know you don’t have to fight it alone. There’s help out there. When you feel ready, pick up the phone and talk to a friend, loved one or an expert. There are dedicated charities out there that will help you and will provide anonymity. I know there’s an underlying stigma around medication however personally I’m an advocate for it being a life line to someone in a MH crisis; talk to your GP.
Unfortunately, you’ll experience stigma in relation to your MH. I have people in my life that still struggle to understand their loved ones going through a mental crisis. And to be fair to them, sometimes it can be hard to understand. It can be hard to love and accept someone who is so self-deprecating, they see nothing else but their own darkness.
To those that do struggle with understanding , I ask that you have empathy and patience. Don’t give up just because you think they’re a broken record; give them time and support to be who they are at this point in their lives. There is no bigger critic to themselves than a person who has a mental illness. They need you standing by their side, holding their hand through this time in their life; not standing by but with your back metaphorically turned.
For the person experiencing a mental health crisis right now and no-one knows. Be proud of yourself. There’s no stronger person. You get up, you turn up, you carry on even though inside you’re one step away from self-destruction. You’re stronger than you think you are; please don’t ever forget that!
The Violet & Bruce website has a dedicated tab for parental mental health that includes numbers, links and articles. Please take a look if needed.
Samaritans: CALL 116 123 (FREE).