Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Are Mental Health Issues Embarrassing?

I haven't written for a while.. I've had no motivation to write and nothing to write about. Or maybe so much to write about I really don't know where to start. It's a side effect of the ongoing battle I have with depression. And I'm not afraid to admit that.
Just recently mental health seems to be rife in the news, articles being shared online, and I recently watched a tv series called '13 Reasons Why' (amazing series and book, I definitely recommend) which are all great things making these things spoken about- but although this taboo seems to be being broken, it seems people are still embarrassed to admit that they are struggling.
When I've posted about mental health, I've had inboxes from people, friends and friends of friends, speaking to me about their experiences with mental illness-which is great that they're talking, I really love to listen, to possibly help, just to be an ear and speak about people's feelings. But many of these people haven't spoken much to anyone about their mental health before-and it's baffling when you start to wonder why this is.

 
Image taken from Tough Mother Club an instagram account dedicated to help mothers suffering from pre/post natal mental illness. 


So, what is mental health? Mental health is the well-being of your brain. Great or not so great. Just like physical health, we don't have complete control over whether that is sound or substandard (think broken legs, viruses etc) but there are things we can do to look after ourselves, and many of them are the same thing that can help our mental health too; exercise, healthy eating, resting plenty etc.
The thing about mental health is that it's your very brain that controls your body, so where the saying 'mind over matter' may sometimes come into things when aiding a recovery from a physical ailment-it isn't always as easy as that when it comes to mental illness, and the most simple things to look after yourself can become the most difficult. Because your brain controls your body. 

 

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem each year, and that's just the ones that are speaking and seeking help.

Mental illness can be scary, it can be you arguing with you. It can be wanting to do something but it terrifying you. It can be feeling you'll never be good enough. It can be feeling angry, frustrated, frightened, detached from reality, tired, confused, and a whole range of other emotions and feelings. Or it can be the opposite and it can make you feel absolutely nothing.
No one asks for mental health issues. A number of causes- most of them out of our control, cause the chemical imbalance in the brain. So if we can't control it, and it is one of the most important things to look after in ourselves, why do we find it so hard to seek out the help we need and admit that our mental health isn't what we believe it 'should' be? Why are we embarrassed?

 
Statistics taken from mind.org.uk


Personally, I think we live in a harsh, judgemental society. Not because we instinctually act like that, but from a young age it's what we are taught to do, what others do and what we should do. Newspapers and magazines are horrific for it, with people in the public eye plastered all over shelves for young girls and boys to see, being exploited for 'gossip' and 'scandal' when their lives aren't 'perfect'. Is it any wonder people are afraid of being judged?
Also history comes into it, in the not-so-distant past, mental illness was widely misunderstood, with little scientific research and a lot of fear of the unknown, people assumed 'crazy' = unpredictable = scary. Something we have come so far from now, which shows things are moving forwards. The final push to stop the stigma is to speak. About everything.
'A problem shared is a problem halved', as the old saying goes. Speak to your friends, speak to a professional, be brave enough to open up. It may be the best thing you ever end up doing. 
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. 


Useful websites to visit for more information about mental health:

Mental Health Org

NHS England

Mind UK

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