The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is psychological first aid and support people can provide to those in distress. It’s fairly ironic for me that today is World Mental Health Day given that mental health has been occupying my mind in recent weeks.
One of the reasons for this has been trying to set up a charitable foundation in memory of my friend Dan. That has been taking quite a lot of thought, mainly about why I would be doing it and that has led to some very difficult conversations. Despite everything I have written and said about the subject, I still find that talking about it stirs up a lot of emotions which is especially difficult when Dan comes into it. Having lost someone that I thought so much of is always going to make it difficult to talk about but talking about it can be the best thing to do as it provides a release. If more people talked about it then more people would be aware of the support that is out there. There is lots of support available but people are often unwilling to look for it as they might appear weak or vulnerable. You wouldn’t take the same attitude if you had cut yourself or had flu so why should your mental health be different? It is ok to not be ok and you should always feel like you can get help if you are struggling as it doesn’t make you weak. If anything it makes you a stronger person as you are able to face the problem and work through it.
The other reason is that I made the decision to come off my medication just over a month ago. It felt like the correct decision at the time, however, things have changed since then. There have been a few triggers that I have noticed recently and this time I want to try and stop them before I start feeling any worse. When I first made the decision to take medical help with my illness, it was a big step to take. It felt like I was giving in and conceding defeat but that was just the depression talking. If I had broken my leg, I wouldn’t stop the doctor putting a pot on it or giving me painkillers. Just because you couldn’t see anything wrong didn’t mean that everything was ok, as I had a chemical imbalance in my brain this was one way of solving it. Thankfully I had support around me to help me get through it and to take the step of looking for help as not everyone is so lucky. That helped me to make the right decision and one that I am glad I took as I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t taken that step. Taking the step to restart hasn’t been as hard although you still have to silence the voice at the back of your head that is telling you that you’re weak.
There are many people out there who are struggling without anyone to turn to. No one should have to go through the struggles of mental illness alone and no one should feel ashamed by it. My first visit to the doctors regarding my mental health I felt embarrassed before I got there but felt even worse after the visit after being told that I should lose some weight as that was causing it. No one should have to go through that when they have taken the step to get some help. Mental health problems are as much part of life as physical problems so shouldn’t be swept aside and be something that people are afraid to talk about.
One of the things that I have tried to do through my blog and the fundraising is to try and raise awareness and get more people talking about mental health. This is one of the reasons that I am trying to take it a step further and make a difference. I know from my experiences how much difference it can make when someone offers you help and support. I’ve had a number of people contact me who I haven’t spoken to in ages who have offered their support and who through their own experiences know what I’m going through. That is one of the kindest things that anyone could do for as it can be a very lonely place so by telling someone that you understand can make all the difference. Let’s all try and make it easier to talk about by shining a light as there is one less good person in the world and that is one too many. Let’s bring the subject out of the shadows and get people talking about it so that we can raise awareness.
Why not take some time out today to contact any friends that you think may be suffering and let them know that you’re there for them. Try to reconnect with them as they’re probably trying to withdraw so that they don’t have to speak to anyone. Everyone has their own struggles and are fighting their own battles so just let them know that you care.
Onwards and upwards
Footnote: If you have read this blog and think that you would like to help then why not a look at my post regarding Trustees for the foundation. If you think you have something to offer and would like to help the fight then get in touch as we could use your help.