I’m supporting #iamwhole – an NHS anti-stigma campaign launched today on #worldmentalhealthday.
If you’ve known me for a while, or followed my blog for a while then you probably already know that I suffer with severe anxiety and used to suffer with depression. I am on medication that helps and I can’t possibly explain how hard it was before I spoke out about it and got the help I needed. Before I realised that something wasn’t right, life was incredibly hard for me. I found the littlest of tasks happened to become the hardest of tasks. A lot of the time I didn’t want to get up and out of bed. I didn’t want to shower or put my makeup on. I didn’t want to paint a smile on my face and act as though I was fine, because what’s the fun in spending your life pretending?
I think the hardest thing for anyone, tends to be actually speaking about it. I was embarrassed. A slight part of me is still embarrassed. “Who will read this?” “What will they think?”. But that’s what this campaign is about. It’s about removing that stigma around mental health and talking about what people deal with on a day to day basis. For me, I didn’t realise how many people suffer with anxiety and depression. I just thought I was a bit weird. I find comfort in other people experiencing the same as me. Because it’s nice to know that we are not alone. Because we aren’t.
I will always remember the day I went to the doctors about how I felt. I did it in secret. I was in my second year of university. My tutors noticed the increase in my lack of attendance. I would call in to work ‘sick’ all the time. I just couldn’t face getting up and getting on with life. I found no joy in anything, but I told no-one. I plucked up the courage and went to the doctors. I told my then boyfriend that I was just going to talk about headaches. When I got home and told him the truth (after being prescribed medication) he told me I was stupid. and so I believed it.
That night was one that I will never forget. The medication made me feel awful, I woke up in cold sweats, I was shaking all night, I was being sick, my heart was racing, I couldn’t breathe properly, I couldn’t catch myself falling. I literally felt like I’d made the biggest mistake ever. I felt absolutely stupid. But I stuck with it, I told my parents and they supported me (as parents do!) and I’ve been on that same medication ever since. I’m so gad I went to the doctors that day because nobody should have to drag themselves through life.
I still have down days, as it’s only human. But if you are suffering with mental health in any way, shape or form, then the best thing you could ever do is to speak about it. Speak to a friend, a family member, a doctor. Just tell someone.