In my experience people don’t feel able to speak out, and being able to speak is half the battle. The worry affects your job, your friends and your family.
For years I didn’t tell anyone about my times with mental issues because I saw the reaction some people had towards mental health problems so I felt I couldn’t be honest.
Generally I have been lucky when I have spoken out, but that wasn’t always the case. I had a negative experience. I told a friend about my mental health problems and she told me that she thought I would be an unsafe person to be around. It was a very naive thing to say. It left me devastated.
It made me question if I should ever tell anyone else. It put me off telling people as I assumed her opinion was shared by everyone else. But that wasn’t the case.
When I was going through a bad time, if someone had asked me how I was and really listened it would have made a huge difference. Instead of me hiding my illness, telling no one and going to a psychologist alone, it all amplified the problem, I couldn’t be honest.
It is stressful enough when you are ill without being worried about people finding out.
It would have been brilliant if someone could have asked me how I was.
Recently I did a talk to 170 students at Queen Margaret University. They were all overwhelmed by my story and they said they didn’t expect me to be like I was, based on my mental health.
It changed their opinions and opened their eyes.
It makes me feel so happy that what I went through wasn’t in vain and I can now help other people to understand, to help people means everything to me.
So many people come and speak to me after I talk. It encourages others to speak out as well.
I know people who have gone and sought help after speaking to me.
It empowers people to not be scared.