In light of World Mental Health Day this week, I wanted to write a little something about this extremely important, although sometimes avoided, topic.
Let me begin by saying that mental health is just as important as physical health and it’s about time that we started addressing it as such.
Everyone is fighting their own battles that we know nothing about. Everyone has a mind and therefore everyone has a mental health, and a risk of it sometimes being cloudy or not as healthy as we would like it to be.
Our brain, minds and thoughts are amazing things, but for people suffering with anxiety or depression those things can become weapons, black clouds that don’t seem to shift. Some days they’re lighter than others, and some days they feel as heavy as if they’re full of rain. It doesn’t really go away, those feelings and thoughts, they’re more like background noise that can be unwillingly tuned in and out of. They’re always there, but some days you can hardly hear them, if at all. Other days they are louder.
And it’s okay not to be okay.
I believe that every single one of us has mental health issues to deal with. Some peoples are stronger and more intense than others. Some peoples are set off more frequently and are more sensitive than others. And some people are lucky enough to never enter any circumstances in their lives that lead to these issues arising (much more rarely). You don’t have to be diagnosed with depression to feel like you’ve got mental health problems to deal with. Mental health cannot be categorised into one box, it comes in all shapes and sizes just like we do, and is different to the individual.
I first began to fully understand what anxiety felt like at the beginning of this year, although I’d suffered a bit with it for long before then. It was winter. It was dark and stormy and I was in University in Cornwall 300 miles away from my family and friends at home. I was waiting to begin my third year project, which I couldn’t start until mid February. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t busy, I felt I wasn’t being productive, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself or my work and I let other people dictate how I felt for the majority.
It was definitely a combination of those things, and the fact I had too much time with my own thoughts, that made me realise my own thoughts weren’t all that nice.
I got into a downward spiral and my emotions seemed to be controlling me completely. The only way I can describe my experience at that point is ‘grey.’ Everything seemed grey, and sometimes I would overthink things to the point of delusion. My thoughts were driving me crazy and they were hard to look past. I would make up problems in my own head and then be anxious and worried about these problems for days, when there was absolutely no need as there was no problem in the first place.
It took me a while to catch onto it myself and took a couple of people point blank telling me that I needed to take control of my emotions and what was happening.
Speaking to friends, family and even a couple of counselling sessions did me the world of good and I am lucky enough to know I can speak out if I ever do feel down and have a strong support network there when I need it.
Every now and then I still do get bouts of anxiety, and a darkness in my thoughts but I can now feel it coming, and I know my body enough to know what helps me get back on track. Exercise, eating healthily, being mindful and spending time with friends, family and doing things I love are all things that really help my mental wellbeing (and they might for you too!)
I know so many people who have suffered with their own mental health throughout their lives. Friends and family members who I thought to be invincible seem to have all suffered at the hands of depression or anxiety. But THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM SO STRONG. It is the people who have fought the fights and come out the other side that are some of the most inspirational people I know.
What you need to know is this: you should never have to fight these battles alone.
If you’re not someone who suffers with their mental health then take a look at the people around you and be a person they can come to if they do. Everyone should take some time to look after their mental and emotional wellbeing because these things play such important parts in our lives.
I’m still constantly learning and understanding what mental health actually is. There are not enough resources, for young and old people alike, to be able to learn about it, understand it, see it in other people and be able to help themselves and those they care about. Sometimes it can become incredibly serious and life consuming but it should never have to get to that stage. No one should ever feel alone about their own mental health, in reality speaking up should only bring us all together, because it is something that we as humans all share.
That’s why I’ve shared a snippet of my own experiences in this blog post. Everyone’s experiences are different and this is only the tip of the iceberg but it’s just to say: we’re all only human and our mental health needs to be looked after just as much as we do. Be kind, always. You never know the battle someone else is fighting today, and your smile or friendly face could be their reason to keep fighting.
let’s all start speaking up!
(happiness is in the little things: laughing with people you love, swimming in the sea, reading a good book, falling asleep to the sound of rain…etc etc etc – make time for these little things, because they become the big things 🙂 )