Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

Yesterday marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, and so it's time that we talked. This year marks something very different from past years, because I'm not sitting her with my life falling apart due to MI - for the first time in a long time, I'm writing this post and I feel fine. But, that doesn't mean I shouldn't talk, that anyone shouldn't talk - this is Mental Health Awareness Week, not Mental Illness Awareness Week; and this is where a change can really occur - whilst our mental health is good, we need to make it normal to talk about it, so when our mental health isn't so good, we can reach out and talk about it without it feeling unusual.

Talking isn't going to save people alone - but it definitely is going to go a huge way towards helping. Talking about mental illness when you're in the grips of it can seem completely impossible, and so making it a little easier to start that conversation can make the whole situation a lot easier. Make a habit of talking to your friends about how they're feeling, and make sure to be honest when you're feeling great mentally, because that will make it much easier, and more normal, to discuss when one of you aren't feeling quick as excellent mentally. Make sure to check on friends that seem quiet or withdraw, and be aware of symptoms of mental illnesses the same as you would be aware for physical illnesses, make sure that you can spot them in yourself or the people around you.

The key to fighting the stigma stands firmly within our ability to talk about the problems that we're facing, but that's definitely more easily said than done (or in this case, done than said). The key to opening up these conversations to people who may need you to listen to them, is to start talking about your own mental health, to make the whole topic something that you discuss regularly, make it as normal as asking people how their exams are going, how their day is going, what they're having for tea.

The thing that really helped me when I was at my absolute lowest was realising that I had friends that not only were willing to listen, but actually wanted me to talk about my mental health. They wanted to help, wanted to be know how I was feeling, wanted to help to share the burden - they wanted to be there, and all I had to do was to find my voice, tell them how I was feeling, and let them help. Be the friends I had, and make sure to reach out to your friends if you're feeling down - it could literally save your life.

Sammy xo.

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