This is something I feel extremely passionate about. Something I’ve talked about before, not on this blog though. Something that affects 1 in 4 people directly and is among the leading causes of ill-health and disability world wide. This blog might be less personal and longer, but if you read through it I honestly think that you will benefit from it. Because statistically, someone you know or you yourself will suffer at some point, and knowing the information can benefit people greatly.
This blog is about mental health issues.
I asked a small group of people I know whether they or someone close to them have suffered from mental health, and from them 75% said yes. I went on to ask people if they could share their experience with me. This are some of the lines that really hit home.
‘…it was my way to ‘unwind’, to feel in control of something’- a friend battling with an eating disorder.
‘…it just doesn’t seem like there’s an end in sight’- a friend battling anxiety
‘…nothing, no one mattered. It was like everything had drained from the world and I was just so completely numb’- a friend talking about her experience with depression.
And this one, which is the main reason I’m making this blog,
‘It’s hard enough going through a mental health issue with lots of support but when you go through it with very little, it’s tough and at times makes you want to give up’- a friend talking about their fight with self harm.
In the US 45% of people deal with untreated mental health issues. There’s so much societal stigma around seeking out help. And the default setting for everyone seems to be happy.
But what if you’re not? What if the way you constantly feel nervous and nauseous and get all those horrible headaches is because of anxiety? What if the reason the colour’s seeped out of the world and you haven’t smiled in months is because you have depression? What if you stopping eating or not eating enough because you want to lose weight isn’t a healthy thing to do?
What if you reach out?
I hope you can all accept that where I am right now, I’m not ready to share my personal experience yet, please respect that. But the one thing that I can undeniably say is: it is not something you have to keep to yourself. It isn’t something that no one can relate to it is not something that is completely unfixable and unmanageable. But hoping for things to get better without making a change is like throwing a stone into the air and hoping it’ll fly on its own: nothing comes from nothing. No solution comes from no change. So go to someone, whether a friend, a teacher, a matron: someone you feel comfortable talking to and share.
And now to those people who are watching someone suffer. I’m going to say something now which will be really really hard to accept. If you haven’t yourself battled with the mental illness the person has, then you might not be able to understand. If you don’t have experience, if you haven’t felt the way that they do, then saying ‘I understand’ or ‘I get that’ will often drive them away from talking to you because they think you’re trivialising how they’re feeling. Never say ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’ or ‘just focus on the bright side’ because people struggling with mental health issues can’t do those things easily, if at all. I’m not going to go into details because there are so many different disorders and issues and if you really want to know how to help, google’s a magical place, but sometimes the hardest thing to accept is sometimes you won’t be able to help.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Text them, spend time with them, write them things, try make them laugh, never judge or laugh at how they say they’re feeling: take them at their word and listen. Be the friend that you would want if you were in their situation.
But there’s one thing that I need to say more than any of this. One thing that needs to be said and, honestly, needs to be heard:
Just because other people can’t see what’s going on in your head doesn’t mean that it’s any less real.
I’m going to repeat something I was told and that’s how I want to finish this, ‘when someone breaks their leg, they walk around on crutches and everyone can see that they need support. But with mental health, people can’t know that they need to help you unless you tell them that something is wrong.
So, that was a long one. Quick thing about the blog: it’s crazy how many messages I get from people saying they like it and, even if I don’t know them, it genuinely makes my day and makes me so happy, so I guess please tell me what you thought of the blog. I’m hoping to post every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (don’t hold me to that though, i’m also a teen at school trying to get work done). So just I love you all so much and thank you for your support
Love, Hea xx