Well, hello there. For those that don’t know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 18th – 24th). I had meant to write and upload this earlier in the week but ironically, I was not in a good place mentally and couldn’t do it. We move.
I don’t want to share any advice or tell people what to do when you’re feeling down – I’m just bloody pleased we are able to have this conversation. The thing is, I didn’t tell anyone for years that I suffer with Chronic Anxiety, Depression and Body Dysmorphia (christ love, want anymore diagnoses!?). Not my friends, not my partner at the time – and I massively played my illness down for anyone that knew.
I’m better now at sharing, but still don’t shout it from the rooftops – but why don’t I? Surely it would give literally everyone I know a better understanding of how I roll and the reasons behind why I go a bit AWOL sometimes, no?
Yes, it would. But I truly believe, although in recent years talking about our mental health has come on in leaps and bounds, we still need to be better at it.
A good example of this is that sometimes I feel super self-absorbed, and like I’m only ever thinking about myself. Some days I feel so, so anxious that it’s all I can do to get out of bed, force myself to wash, eat.
In those moments, feeling like I’d rather claw my own skin off than spend another second in my body, it’s hard to imagine that anyone else has ever, ever felt this bad in the history of time. How do you even ask the question? Hey buddy, you ever feel so low you want to smash every mirror in your house and eat the shards? This way of thinking was cemented when I was talking to a friend a few days ago who mentioned that she had recently been suffering with bad anxiety and panic attacks. I was gutted for her that she felt so low and we spoke about coping mechanisms and shared experiences. After our conversation, I was like…oh my god…other people are feeling down, too! Don’t make it all about yourself! You’re so inward-facing you can’t even tell when your friends are upset! Ah, the old reliable negative self-talk.
I vocalised this to Will that evening and he put a completely different spin on it for me (like he often does, the lovely soul). You’re not self-absorbed OR selfish, he said, you’ve isolated yourself into thinking it’s just you. It isn’t. Start the conversation and you may find so many others in the same hole as you – try to help each other to dig your way out.
One in four people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Unfortunately, mental health services are heavily, heavily over capacity and it can be very difficult to receive the help from counsellors or therapists, unless you have the financial means to pay for it. Often, people are discharged from the service without having received the best care.
Personally, I have been on a waiting list for 1:1 specialised therapy for five months, with no indication of how long the wait will be. Of course, we need to acknowledge that NHS mental health professionals are incredible but are having to work in poorly managed conditions with heavy caseloads!
With services so underfunded and overstretched, we need to pull together to help ourselves and each other. Sorry to smash the old cliché down your throat but – it’s okay not to be okay. People ARE there for you and WILL support you, if you allow them in to do so. Here’s another one: check in on your mates. As always, I’m here for all of you, whether you know me personally or not – please reach out to me if you need some help or even just a place to chat.
Love, E x