Posted on October 10, 2016 by onthementalmend
Today has been world mental health day…and yet, I couldn’t have felt lower. Which is actually a perfect example of why this day is so important. Being so open about my struggles I’ve had a lot of people say to me how much they look up to me, and how seeing my strength gives them strength of their own. Don’t get me wrong I am absolutely blessed to hear things like that, it makes everything worthwhile. But, because of this, for the past 3 years I have felt this constant pressure to present myself as ‘the poster girl’ of recovery with unfaltering courage. When in reality…it’s nothing like that. Sure I have good days; sharing my story and seeing the impact it can make is something I wouldn’t change for the world. But, you see, what I haven’t shown is the endless crying, the cutting, the starving, the screaming, the panic attacks, the self loathing, the pain, the misery. It’s been exhausting not being able to show that side of my life, especially when it’s such a prominent part. However, only now am I starting to realise that, not once has anyone ever stopped me from doing so. In fact, the only person who has forbidden me from sharing that part of my life, is myself! And this just goes to show that stigma still exists, even in me. I am perfectly entitled to be open and honest about how I am feeling, good or bad. Recovery has not been easy. And while I’ve made phenomenal progress in the last 3 years, I still have a long way to go.
Personally I believe we should all be making a difference in the way mental illness is viewed every day of the year. However mental health day is great because there is no excuse. It’s just one day a year. That’s 1 day out of 365 where we all just need to find time to stop; stop and listen to someone who is suffering, stop and educate ourselves on what it’s really like living with a mental illness. The world is changing, I can see it; the way mental illness is viewed in society is very different to how it was before and for that, I feel proud. It shows a great amount of hope. However there is still a lot more to be done. While intentional stigma is rapidly declining, some our our language surrounding mental illness is still appalling. The phrases “I’m so depressed”, “I hate my life”, “just kill me now” are tossed around these days without so much as a second thought and this is what needs to be addressed. These are not things to be made a mockery of. I’ve said it once, I’ll sat it again. Mental illnesses can affect anyone. They are life consuming, life altering and potentially life ending diseases.
So please, please, just take a moment to think before you speak. Words are extremely powerful. They can change someone’s life…it’s down to you whether it’s for the better or for the worse.