This is a post about Mental Health. 1 in 3 of all of us will at some point experience mental health problems and until we are open with each other about talking about these, we will never be able to move forward.
Step One: Being Open
This isn’t necessarily about going telling everyone about every little detail that is going on in your life. But when a friend says “are you okay?” know that you can reply with “no, I’m not” instead of the “Yes, thanks, you?” that we have been trained since infancy to repeat. Because that is the hardest. If you need to talk, acknowledge that not everyone will ask if you are okay, sometimes you just need to go and call a friend, invite them for coffee and say “Can we talk?” If you keep in mind that 1 in 3 people will experience a difficulty similar to your own at some point in your life then you really are not alone.
Step Two: Do you
There are a fair few issues that people experience in life that relate to identity. Other people are doing things this way and you’ve always done it that way. That doesn’t mean their way is better, they’re doing them and you’re doing you, you rock at doing you and if it works, don’t try to fix it!
Step Three: Try to work out why you are worried
If, like me, you worry so much you can’t always tell what it is you are so stressed out about you will inevitably have worried about the fact that you are worrying. There are two techniques that I employ in this situation that I always recommend to worried friends: free write and talk to yourself freely.
Free Writing – Free Writing basically means just get a pen and paper, or your laptop, and write until you hit that moment where you know what is up. You don’t think about the words, punctuation, spelling, grammar etc. just let the words flow freely. This is quite a freeing experience.
Talking to Yourself – No equipment required, and most of us do this anyway. Just let yourself talk without inhibitions until you reach the point where you go “yeah, that’s why I’m so worried, how can I move forward?”
There is no clear cut guarantee that these will work, but towards the end of my first semester of my final year I was super-duper stressed. To the point where I was back in my self harm ways that I never wanted to see again, my attendance dropped to classes I loved, my work was substandard (as far as I can see, marks did not reflect this), I couldn’t concentrate. After handing in all the work that I had due before the Christmas break I finally figured it all out just by walking round the living room and talking to myself. I had let myself believe that I had finally succumb to the stress of a degree – I mean, it is no easy feat – but what I was really worried about was family. I hadn’t heard from my Dad who I always see before Christmas, so I text him. That resolved that issue. It didn’t fix everything, because I know my problems run deeper, but it helped, and I hope that it helps anyone who happens to read this.
Step Four: Be Open Minded
Things change. People change. I think this is the one thing that gets me through, I have strong relationships with people who have hurt me in the past, I can talk to some people I had written off before and I have returned to my GP when things got to that stage even though my experience of that has never been brilliant.
But most importantly:
We need to talk about Mental Health, re-think our perspective on it and educate ourselves better. The World Health Organisation states that depression is the leading cause of disability as measured by Years Lived with Disability. By 2020, they estimate that it will reach second place in the ranking for Disability Adjusted Life Years.
I am not a Mental Health Professional, or an expert on such matters. but I’ve been there, I know how dark it can get and I want to help. Feel free to comment or contact me if you want to talk.
Some useful resources:
Time to Change