I’m passionate about talking about my mental health regardless of taboos or pressures in society, and it’s why I founded Let’s Talk About Loss, a support network for people who have been bereaved. It’s also why I love blogging for YoungMinds, because it gives me the opportunity to speak up and encourage others to do so.
Two years after my mum passed away I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a fantastic group of family and friends who supported me completely. They allowed me to talk about how I was feeling as much or as little as I wanted, and always knew what to say when I did talk. However, reaching out to others when we are going through a difficult time can feel impossible.
How do you start that conversation? How do break out of the cycle of answering “I’m fine thanks” every time someone asks how you are? How do you let them know that actually you’re not fine at all? The reality is that we often struggle to find the vocabulary that will allow us to effectively talk about our mental health. Even if we want to tell others that we are not feeling completely normal, it is hard to know which words to use – and it can be scary too, as people may not react as you are expecting.
However, I’m taking inspiration from the countless celebrities who have bravely spoken up about their experiences, to show the world that mental health challenges are normal and not taboo. Fearne Cotton, who has published the books Happy and Calm, opened up honestly about her depression and said it was “overwhelming and hugely uncomfortable” to talk publicly. However, I applaud Fearne for her bravery and hope that she and many other celebrities will have inspired younger generations to follow her example and tell others about their challenges.
I would not be recovering from my depression and anxiety if I had not visited a counsellor and spoken to her about how I was feeling. She encouraged me to process my feelings verbally, and now I am happy to speak to others about how I struggle with my mental health. I know that the likelihood is that they may have faced challenges themselves, or know someone who has – mental health is a topic that more and more people are talking about, and hopefully the taboos in society are breaking down.
Reaching out about my experiences has helped me meet other young people in similar situations to myself, and I now have more friends and an even more supportive network than I did before. Don’t suffer in silence – there is always someone to listen, whether it’s a friend or a counsellor, a helpline or a support group. However scary it might seem, talking helps.
This blog was first posted on Young Minds. To read more of their blogs visit https://youngminds.org.uk/blog