Guest blog I did for Love Not Stigma about my mental health journey and advocacy:
She is well educated. Good job. Well brought up. Living in a dream flat with her best friend. Doing her dream job. With a great circle friends.
You would not think she would spend 2.5 years in and out of a psychiatric hospital. Survive a suicide attempt. Be 33 yrs old and have to move back home with her parents and lose touch with a majority of friends, isolating herself.
Well, this is me.
This is my life.
I am 1 in 4.
I am diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder.
It feels I have lost a majority of friends (though this is probably my illness making me feel like that) as people have not known how to respond or what to say. People are scared of saying the wrong thing or of hurting me more than I am hurting (when this actually hurts much more).
The stigma needs to be erased. People need to stop being ashamed. People need to know that ‘normal’ people go through this and it is OK to admit they are struggling. People need to be able to talk openly about it, not feel they should hide their struggle from family, friends and work colleagues. People need to know what to say and how support people suffering with mental health problem.
With this stigma, and feeling unable to talk about my feelings, is the reason no doubt why I ended up in this position. I am sure it is the same for many others going through similar things, and others who have sadly lost the battle.
This is the reason I am standing up and supporting mental health, raising awareness and making people realize how common it is. Make people feel they are not alone. They can survive it, no matter how impossible it feels. Making friends and families know what to say and do around someone suffering.
I started my blog on the spur of the moment, during yet another sleepless night (I additionally suffer with terrible insomnia). I started it that night and the words just flowed. I never expected people to actually read it. But they did. Friends came out supporting me as it helped them know what to say and do. Friends admitted to me that they suffered with something similar or took anti-depressants. Strangers told me it reassured them that they were not alone. It just sort of took off. Suddenly I had over 1000 followers and my blog was read world wide – WOW was all I could think (and do think).
I realized that I could actually do something to help people. That something good could come out of this hell of a journey. It gave me some strength to know this journey was not wasted and I could make a difference. It made me feel I could give something back to all the people who have helped, and are helping, me along this journey.
I had been working in fashion. A world so superficial, fake and what lead to my break down. The thought of returning to that world was just not an option. This, my blog and advocacy gave me purpose, and from it I have decided to retrain as a counselor, and to eventually become an art therapist, this way I could give back and use my creativity to help others – win win!!
Through my advocacy, I want to make others feel proud they are fighting the battle. Make people not being ashamed to speak up about their feelings. Make people know how to help someone struggling. And make people aware of how many are suffering, and not let people feel the need to suffer in silence.
I am 1 in 4, but I am proud.
Proud I am getting through it.
Proud to be able to admit things are shit and currently very shit.
Proud to be able to help people. Proud to give back to people who helped me throughout. And proud not to be ashamed of something so stigmatized.
WOW, I have just realized writing this that this is the first time EVER I have said I am proud of something – that is a big step.
But yes, I am proud of being a mental health advocate and continue to keep the conversation going by showing there is nothing to be ashamed of speaking up and ultimately erase the stigma.