One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was because I wanted to talk about my mental health. I feel very passionately that reading about and sharing experiences of mental health issues helps people….it certainly helps me!
One in four people in the UK will experience a Mental Health Issue each year, but how many of us actually talk about it?
Unfortunately I think there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues which makes it a difficult thing for me to talk about “in real life”. Only my closest friends and family know I have depression, but most of my friends don’t, neither do most of my colleagues and I definitely don’t share with my passing acquaintances. Yet I don’t feel I have to hide my physical health problems, so why do I hide my mental health problems? I can’t answer that question, but I do know it’s not helpful or healthy for me. It adds to the feeling that somehow it is a “defect”, and something to be embarrassed about. I feel I should be able to “pull myself together”. And this is only compounded when people I am close to have suggested things like exercise, volunteering or eating more healthily will “make you feel better” as though those things alone will “cure me”.
However, I have found that talking about my mental health with people who truly understand does help immensely. It reminds me that depression is an illness and it reminds me I’m not alone.
So of course it’s easy to find someone to talk to given that 1 in 4 people have experienced something similar in the last year, right? Wrong! In my experience it is hard….very hard. Or should I say *was* hard? Because I stumbled across a whole community of people who are going through the same thing, but do talk about it! And anyone can join in! In fact the more the merrier! You don’t have to be an excellent writer or blogger. You don’t even have to be brave enough to give your real name. You just have to join Twitter!
Twitter has been a revelation! The people I have found on there offer the most amazing support I could wish for. It’s like having a room full of friends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week….except unlike with real friends you can also turn them off when you want them to shut up 😉
I get to share my “good days” and “bad days”. I get to talk about my depression…..but if I choose to I also get to talk about my work, or my child, or my family, or my friends. It can be as much or as little about your mental health as you want it to be! Some people use their real names, others (like me) have anonymous identities. I don’t even have to get out of bed to speak to someone.
I have had some very dark days in the last few months and in the past when I felt like that I have withdrawn from everyone and everything, but I don’t feel I have to do that anymore. I feel I can share my deepest, darkest thoughts and know there are people out there who understand, and who have been there….or may even feel like that too! When I can’t share how I feel with my family, or friends, or even my doctor I have had people there helping me, and holding me up! And I think….at least I hope…that I do that for others too! We can’t take away each other’s problems, but we can share them. And sometimes that is enough!
I’m not going to embarrass anyone by singling out the people who have helped me the most, but I hope you guys know who you are!
And to anyone reading this blog who feels alone…please don’t. Join twitter- I can’t recommend it enough 🙂