When I first started my recovery, I never would have imagined mental health would become, or continue to be, such a big part of my life. At times, I have wanted nothing more to do with it, yet I am reminded, we all have mental health. Every single person has mental health, just as we all have physical health, sometimes it is well and other times it is not so well.
So why is raising awareness important?
As I have said many times before, growing up, mental health was never spoken about, and as a child I grew up believing that the thoughts and feelings I had about myself were normal. Turns out I was very wrong and I had that ‘not so well’ mental health but without awareness how could I, or those around me, have known any different?
If there were greater mental health awareness, I could have sought help and support sooner, saving me many years of illness, as I am sure many others could have to.
As I grew up I started to try and learn more about mental health, I would often look up terms and be shocked at the images and headlines I would find. I became ashamed and fearful of what I felt and thought. I did not know then, that what I was reading was a very false representation of mental health. The media sensationalising stories, drawing in readers and adding to the already false perception of mental health.
This continued and I became not only scared of my mind but also of what others would think. This all added to the secrecy of my struggles and to the reason I was too afraid to speak out, to seek help.
Throughout the last few years I have met others who share this experience, who also think, ‘I wish somebody could have known’. I know I cannot change my experience but I can help change the future of others.
After reading many detrimental media stories, I stumbled upon personal blog posts. Real experiences of others who had been through what I was going through. I cannot express just how much this helped me. To know I was not alone, that recovery was possible and that people were confidently sharing their experiences to raise awareness, without fear of being judged.
Without awareness, a true representation of what mental illness is, people do not know how to look for signs; how to help and support others; how to speak about mental health, without stigma or discrimination and how to look after our own mental health to. Without awareness people can feel alone and ashamed of their mental health, nobody should ever feel like this. This is why I chose to continue to raise awareness, to speak out and share my experiences.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 is the 8-14th May, please get involved and do something to raise awareness. Read and share a personal story, ask somebody how they are feeling, have a conversation about mental health and do something to better your own mental health to.
Thank you for reading,