I wouldn’t say that I chose to start writing about mental health. I felt like I didn’t have a choice.
Not so long ago, a person close to me made a comment about people that “feel the need to write about mental health problems on Facebook.” This person felt strongly that mental illness isn’t something to share and is basically something to deal with behind closed doors.
I was horrified. This was a real opinion held by a person that I love. If she could think this, how many other people still think this way too?
Suggesting that mental illness should not be talked about is suggesting that it is something to be ashamed of.
A person suffering with physical illness would not be shamed for seeking advice and support online, or for sharing stories of recovery and success, so why is mental illness any different?
I feel obliged to help break this stigma. More conversations need to happen. Not just on certain days – such as Time to Talk Day (which is a great initiative, don’t get me wrong!) – but every day.
Mental health needs to become a ‘normal’ thing to talk about. It is normal. We might not all have a mental illness, but we all have mental health and we all need to take care of it.
Recently, I’ve found myself wanting to speak up about my struggles and the struggles of others. About how anyone could be fighting a battle you know nothing about. About how even those with the biggest smiles, can be fighting the biggest demons.
I want to give those people a helping hand – a voice of support, hope and understanding. I want people to know that they’re not on their own.
For those who are struggling, confiding in others can be hard and the internet is sometimes the only place to turn.
Personally, reading stories written by others who had been in my position, was the biggest lifeline when first coming to terms with my anxiety. It helped me to find the strength to do something about it and realise that I could fight it.
If my writing about mental health helps just one person to feel a little bit less alone or a little bit more hopeful, then it is entirely worth it.