February 1st. It’s time to talk.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll probably have seen a few of my posts where I’ve talked about my depression and anxiety, or maybe you’ve seen my Instagram posts.
I no longer feel the need to hide or shy away from my struggles and I no longer feel embarrassed talking about the things I’ve experienced.
NEITHER SHOULD YOU!
I believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and cared for, to feel hope and happiness, love and laughter – especially on their darker days.
I don’t wait until February 1st to talk about this, I try and talk about it at least once a month because although each of us experience things differently, just one shared experience may help one other person in some way. However, February 1st is the big day to talk and it would be ridiculous for me not to be a part of that.
What led to my depression, anxiety and PTSD is nothing out of the ordinary, and in many ways I feel ashamed that it affected me so badly when other women have suffered far worse events that I ever did. Over time I have learned to accept that I was entitled to my suffering, because what I experienced was the worst thing I had, in my life, been faced with. You cannot measure how much suffering someone should endure based on what they are faced with. Some people are able to handle so much worse than others, some people crumble at the slightest thing. THAT IS OKAY.
One thing you have to learn to do is do not compare your struggle to others’.
Your struggle is yours.
Your pain, your darkest days are not for others to judge or to comment on.
This is one of the toughest parts of dealing with my depression. Was accepting what had happened, accepting that yes, many people have dealt with far worse than I have, but that will not change the pain I felt or take away the experiences I had.
The most important thing about your mental health is not to suffer in silence.
I know what it’s like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Fake a smile. Push yourself into those social situations you’re completely dreading. Get dressed every day and pretend your life is absolutely fine, when all you really want to do is hide under the bed covers and cry for hours and hours.
You do what you need to do. If you need to stay in bed all day, eat pizza and doughnuts and cry, do it. BUT you need to be talking to someone. Whether it’s an online friend, someone on instagram, your mum, your best friend, a partner, a therapist, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse. SOMEONE will listen. Someone will want to support you and help you through this.
The harsh part about mental health is not everyone is equipped to deal with it. Not everyone wants to be around the ‘sad person’ or the ‘party pooper’. But dyou know what we say to them? Fuck it. Fuck it. and Fuck you. If people don’t even try and understand or support you, stay away from them. You do not need that negativity in your life. Believe me.
Anyone who truly cares about you will support you, be there for you, try and get you through your darker moments. Don’t get me wrong, no one can be there for you 24/7, and they won’t be, because everyone has their own life to get on with, but that does not mean that they don’t care.
I was extremely lucky, after 2 years of battling it out on my own, I admitted defeat and went home to live with my mum again. I stopped working. I saw a counselor. I took time for me. My mum went to work every day, and on her days off she cooked for me, we went shopping, we watched movies. We cried, we cried a lot. I was awful. Miserable. I felt like I was living in hell and all I wanted to do was end it all. Without my mum, I would have done. I would not be alive right now if it wasn’t for my mum’s never ending support.
And I understand that not everyone will have that, and that makes it worse. But, whether you have one person, or 10 people, you will have someone who will help you.
Please, please, please do not go through your dark days alone. Okay?
I don’t like to say I’ve been ‘cured’ of depression and anxiety, because some days it hits me like a tonne of bricks. However, in the past year I fought with my own self to become a better, stronger and more capable person. I faced my fears of going back to work. I faced my fears of starting something new (a teaching career) and I faced my fears by openly admitting to my depression and anxiety on the days when I needed to care for myself. I learned to put myself first. Before my shame, before my fears.
The results were amazing.
I lost weight for the first time in 3 years (a lot of it).
I made friends.
I started reading again.
(P.S. Reading Bryony Gordon’s ‘Mad Girl’ made me realise I could have a life AND deal with a mental illness at the same time. This woman changed the way I faced my depression. I owe her big time!)
I started working. And I absolutely love my job.
(Although mental health in the work place, in general, is a huge issue. I may blog about this separately because it’s so important.) But I still get the ‘tuts’ and ‘eye rolls’ if I say I need a day off / at home / self-care day. It’s infuriating.
I found a new enthusiasm for life.
I went on holiday alone.
I found a reason to feel alive again.
It isn’t easy. None of it is. Even without a mental health issue to deal with, everyone has bad days and none of them are pleasant. You’re not alone.
My message from this post is to please, please reach out to someone. Find the people you can trust, find a kind person on instgram (believe me, there are plenty!) and just talk.
If all else fails, I’m also here for anyone that feels like they want to rant, vent, talk to or share their worries – or even their positive vibes!
You are never alone.
NHS advice for if you’re feeling suicidal here
Mind – A fantastic mental health charity that works nation wide to support people with mental health issues.