I was given permission to publish this blog post by a client, so thank you for taking the time to write and share. I am sure it will help others.
- but you look so well
- stop feeling sorry for yourself
- pull yourself together
- snap out of it
- there are others worse off
- how can you be tired you’ve slept all day
- you don’t need pills
- we’ve spent a weekend with you and you are not depressed
Sometimes yes we do need those reminders to be told that we are spiralling, but until you have walked in someone’s shoes you can’t fully understand what that person is going through. You can empathise but for each of us it is our own journey, our own feelings, and I for one have told myself all of the above things at one point in time.
Why is it if a sixth of the population struggle with mental health that we still see it as bad and something to hide? We see initiatives like the I’m fine campaign, Heads Together all trying to get us to talk more. I believe there is still a fear, what will people think, will they understand, how does it affect my future, is it a sign of weakness?
It is scary that children now as young as 5 are showing signs of struggling with mental health, but then has that changed from when we were children? When I was at school there were no counsellors, no talking about feelings/emotions, but then we were unaware of the big wide world, we only watched Newsround, there was no internet to show us problems, we were unaware of struggles around us. It’s now only as an adult I can look back and see/understand where people were struggling – a neighbour that suffered from depression, one of our friend’s mums being an alcoholic, and many more. How do we help children today to talk, to understand what they are feeling and help them not to carry it into adulthood?
Do we see pills as the quick solution? Yes it’s easier to give someone pills than to fund counselling for them, but does it help long term? I was told at 24 that I would need to be on anti-depressants until I was married, no offer of counselling or support just pills. At that point I was not in a relationship, marriage seemed a long way in the future and this felt like a life sentence. But it’s important to say taking pills is not a sign of weakness either, I remember walking from the doctors to the chemist and feeling everyone knew what was wrong with me, having to hand the prescription over, and feeling the chemist was judging me for needing help, having to take the pills for the first time was horrid, I sat and looked at them for a good hour before I could take them, many tears were had, and hoping I would magically feel better before I needed to swallow them. The first ones I was given were prozac and I opened up the instructions to read them, and they were so well done, they explained depression, why you have been given them, that is was not a sign of weakness but strength and made me feel it was ok to need them.
I don’t think there are easy answers to any of the above but we need to keep talking about mental health, and making sure we are helping our future generations to know its ok to struggle but that there is help out there and it’s ok.