First of all I would like thank Susie over at So Happy In Town. She has inspired this post with her amazing campaign. #itsoktofeelshit.
The stigma surrounding mental health has certainly been broken down a lot since I was first diagnosed with depression in my teenage years. Back in those days I was quite simply told to pull myself together and man-up. Oh yes, by the way, here are some anti-depressants to keep you sane or maybe not very sane. Just drugged up and feeling like a zombie. Good to go then, bye. That was the way it was back in the day. Thankfully we have moved on from that attitude, but we still have a way to go.
Over the years, my own journey of depression, has seen me have some terrible bouts of depression that left me unable to deal with everyday life on any level. Most of these episodes of depression were during a time when mental illness was considered nothing more than feeling a bit down or worse still feeling sorry for yourself. A stigma was growing around mental health that would take years to remove, and sadly we are still struggling to remove this today and it’s 2019.
Just because you can’t see a physical illness, and depression is after all invisible to the naked eye, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It very much does exist and you have a right to treatment to help you heal and live a more positive and happy life.
My own mental health was diagnosed as depression and most people would think you existed looking and feeling as miserable as sin no big deal then, if only that was true. I lost count of the times people said smile what is wrong with you. Maybe if they had asked I could of tried to explain, that its not that easy to smile when you have depression and your thoughts and mind are in constant turmoil. My own symptoms of depression manifested in many ways.
There was an anger in me that at times was impossible to control. I was angry at the world and I would hit out at anybody, but mostly to those that loved me the most, my family, and yes they will stand by you, but there is only so much anybody will take.
I buried my head in a bottle and alcohol for a time in my life. The alcohol had total control over my life, and considering I suffered from depression it was just making me worse, as alcohol being a depressant means it would just deepen my very dark thoughts about my life.
There were times when I would not leave my bed for days on end. The effort to eat or do anything for myself was just a task too far for me. I was not wallowing in self pity, as I was told on many occasions. It was a total inability to deal with life. I simply didn’t know how to deal with my dark thoughts that were constantly going through my mind, so it became easier to sleep to shut it all out.
My depression left me on the border of contemplating suicide, which on two occasions I acted upon, thankfully for me I didn’t succeed, but that is what mental health and depression when untreated, can do to you. It takes you to the border of life and death. You need treatment you need help you need therapy it’s a combination of medication and therapy. Which is thankfully something I finally received, but it took a years of denial by health professionals and the stigma surrounding mental health. before somebody started to accept I had mental health issues, and I needed treatment other than medication.
On reflection concerning my attempts at taking my own life, I have no doubt even to this day I wanted to end it all, but I also think it was partly a cry for help! I was at the lowest point in my life, and saw no way out.
I was being totally misunderstood and I remember being called everything from Hyperactive to a attention seeking drama. The truth is my mood swings were being dictated by my depression. This was something that was out of my control, while I didn’t receive the right diagnosis and treatment. Trying to explain this always left me feeling exasperated and feeling desperately alone.
The overwhelming feeling was always one of not feeling normal, because mostly of the way people spoke or reacted to me, if I dared to say I was suffering from depression, not that I told anybody very often. Why because I couldn’t deal with the judgemental attitude. The truth which I know now, was, I was normal, I just needed help!
Recently I have been following Susie who has been campaigning on her Instagram, So Happy In Town, with an awesome hashtag #itsoktofeelshit. She has been selling T-shirts with the hashtag printed on it. More importantly all the profits, that’s 100% of them, raised from selling the t-shirts is going to @youngmindsuk. An incredible charity that is fighting for a new time when young people can reach out at any time for help and support with their mental health so that they will not be judged or stigmatised for having any sort of mental health problem. If you want to support with this awesome initiative you can purchase a t-shirt right here. It truly is something I believe we have an obligation to do look after the young minds in our lives and help them to stay healthy. This makes Susie’s campaign and initiative so worthwhile and inspiring. I applaud her for a truly magnificent campaign and raising awareness around mental health in our young people that is so often ignored.
If you buy a T-shirt just think to yourself how much you are going to help our children and young people. In life we never know when we could be affected by mental health or one of children is in need of help. Let’s help NOW!
If anybody and more importantly any young people have had time to read this short snippet of my journey of depression and they consequently reach out for help it will have removed some of the stigma around mental health. Believe me I know its not easy, but I have never regretted the decision to reach out for help and you won’t either.
Our young people are our future and in this world of technology with the pressure to achieve it’s no wonder that some young people struggle to fit into today’s society. With social media projecting an image of perfection, how to look, what to wear, etc, it is no surprise that young people don’t feel they are good enough for today’s society the one that they are growing up in.
There has to be a safety net available to all young people that they can go to to be open and frank about their feelings and needs, and when something is wrong there should never be a fear that they can’t open up and not be judged or worse still pushed away and told to get on with life because I know from personal experience it is not that easy.
Mental health in our young people needs addressing and we need more organisations like Young Minds UK to help our youth become mentally healthy adults that can play an important role in the future of this ever changing world.
Let’s not leave any of our children or young adults behind or let them sink into mental health issues, because we didn’t try to help them or they felt it was too much trouble to ask for help. Let’s give them the option to feel good about themselves without stigmatising them. Or as Susie says if they are having a bad day, #itsoktofeelshit without them feeling they will be judged.
I don’t want to see any of today’s youth go through what happened to me because of a lack of help. Let’s invest in our youth. Let’s make them feel there is no embarrassment or stigma with mental health. Let them know we can help.
On Monday I wrote about the tragic event of Molly Russell’s taking her own life, aged just 14. This is worst case scenario of not being there for our young people. Lets give our young people the confidence that if they have a problem, there will always be somebody to listen. “Did Instagram contribute To A 14 Year Old Taking Her Own Life”
One final note I have been in a good place now for quite a while and I love life and I’m happy. I am in recovery. Truth is I will always be in recovery, but I am also more adept to spotting the signs of depression after all these years, I can now spot the dark clouds forming and I know when to reach out for help.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.