We need to talk: some thoughts on World Mental Health Day
*Content warning: depression, anxiety, OCD*
This is just a quick one, because my depression has sent its debilitating fatigue to visit today.
I’ve had problems with anxiety and OCD since I was a teenager, which has overall been under control for the past few years. But about five months ago I suddenly became overwhelmed with depression. I was exhausted all the time; negative thoughts about myself and my self-worth were a daily struggle. I could feel the bubble closing over me. It was suddenly impossible to sustain conversations with my closest friends, and I started avoiding social interaction with anyone. I spent hours in bed, doing nothing. Nothing interested me anymore. I was slowly drifting away from myself, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
The funny thing was that things were just starting to go right — I’d started at a new job I loved, and my days in customer service were finally drawing to a close. I had great friends, a great boyfriend — what was wrong?
The fact is, I was unwell, and although I’m now receiving treatment, I still have hard days. I go to work, because it gives me structure and I love that I’m finally doing something I enjoy, but some days it’s still hard despite medication and talking therapies. I think they call it high-functioning, because you’re still able to get on with things, and getting on with things keeps your mind occupied. But fighting every day takes it out of you.
I’m getting on, and I’m lucky enough that I knew I could reach out for help and I would be taken seriously. This meant I got help early and caught it before it got really bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above the stigma. I almost don’t want to post this, because part of me really doesn’t want to show that I’m weak, and I don’t want people to treat me any differently. But the really, really sad thing is that so many people live with invisible illnesses, because in many ways people don’t like talking about it or feel like they might be judged for speaking out.
But mental health problems are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. There’s still a lot of stigma out there, but it’s only by talking about these things that we can start to remedy that. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to be unwell and fighting, it’s even okay to be unwell and losing the fight. But please, please know that there are people out there who will listen. You don’t have to do it alone.
Samaritans is a charity registered in England and Wales (219432) and in Scotland (SC040604) and incorporated in England…www.samaritans.org
We're Mind, the mental health charity. We're here to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone.www.mind.org.uk