Well, it's snuck up on me and I haven't really planned much for today, but I couldn't let the day go by without writing at least a quick blog post.
You see, today is Time to Talk Day - an opportunity to talk to people about mental health, to debunk the myths, to be open and honest, to end the discrimination. And that is something we should ALL be talking about!
I'm sure you know me by now – I am a chronic over-sharer and have been very honest about my own and my husband's battles with low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. So what I'd like to do is share some of my most honest posts with you today, the ones which really go to the depth of that despair and come back out again.
But first I'd like to put a few short points across, things which I have learned along our journey with depression and anxiety:
- Mental health issues can affect anyone, at any point in their life.
- You can become completely debilitated by a mental health issue, whether in just one area of your life or every area of it. And it can often creep up on you seemingly out of nowhere.
- It can be incredibly terrifying to admit to someone you are struggling – the stigma can feel too hard to bear. And yet there should be no stigma at all!
- Some people will always try and beat you when you are down (I know from experience, having trusted someone only to have it backfire and lead me to resign from a job I loved due to sneaky discrimination and underhanded bullying).
- But for all those who would beat you, there are far more who would support you if only they knew how to do so – this is why honesty is so important.
- It can be incredibly hard for people to understand what you are going through and why you act (and react) in certain ways. Some people will never understand, but true friends will try to understand, and those are the friends you will love forever.
- You will lose some friends… and that is truly awful. But you will gain many more in completely unexpected places.
- None of this is your fault. Guilt can eat away at you, and fear will try to make you let it eat away the very last bits of strength you have. But if you're lucky, you'll have people by your side to help you through those darkest hours.
- There is always someone to turn to – but finding them can be the hardest thing in the world when you aren't thinking straight. And this is why, even if you've never suffered from any mental health issue, compassion and understanding is crucial to helping those who need you.
- Nobody is isolated from mental health issues – even those you think are confident and happy could be falling apart inside (again, I have survived long days smiling and greeting customers, only to spend the night crying in despair before plastering on my smile and doing it all again the next day)
- Once you have faced mental health issues and you have survived (and by survived I truly mean simply placing one step in front of the other and continuing because that can be the hardest thing of all) you will find an inner strength you never knew you had.
- Mental health issues threaten to destroy all your hold dear, all your hopes and dreams… but sometimes, just sometimes, what you actually get is so much better in the end. But in those moments of despair being told this is not very helpful at all – sometimes you just have to ride the wave and start afresh in the morning!
- Some people will battle mental health issues their entire life, others will have "blips" but each and every one needs support. And that is why it is time to talk.
And now, here are some of my more honest posts from the past. They all have aspects of the mental health issues and battles I have been dealing with, though none of them really focus on them completely. And I think that is really significant, because very rarely do we see these things as completely separate from the areas of our lives they are affecting (or being affected by). You don't have to read any of them, but if you want to they are there (oldest first).