Wednesday, 15 May 2019

GUEST POST by Eliza for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

It's 2019 and mental health is still a severely under discussed topic and that breaks my heart.

In the UK it is estimated that a staggering 1 in 4 individuals will experience a mental health problem at some stage in their lives.

There are so many things I wish to do in order to both raise awareness and reduce the amount of stigmatisation that surrounds mental illness, but as it is such a colossal topic of discussion, where does one start?

Lets start with this: you are not alone and your illness does not define you.

Although it's a cliché, things do get better and recover is 100% possible. I'm not going to lie to you at all by saying that it's easy because in all honesty it is going to be the toughest journey you've ever been on. But despite that, it is defiantly achievable.

You are not going to achieve the 'recovered' status alone - you are going to need all the support you can get.

Mental illness stole everything from me; every ounce of self-love, everything I lived for, gone in the blink of an eye. At my worst I wanted nothing more that for my suffering to end. I wasn't suicidal, I just wanted life as I knew it to end.

My story's moral is that I'm recovering. I stumble along the way, granted, relapses are inevitable, but I'm alive and thriving.

Anyway, let me tell you 3 things that I've learnt through my journey with mental illness.

1. It's okay not to be okay

The pain we endure on an daily basis is tough. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for help. It is not a sign of weakness - in fact, it radiates strength and self-understanding. Understanding oneself and knowing when to reach out for help is an instrumental step towards achieving recovery.

2. We are shaped by the mistakes we make and the struggles we face.

We all make mistakes in life. Some of which will be repairable and some of which aren't - but that's okay. No matter the severity of the mistakes made we learn from them and allow them to shape us into the person we are today. At the beginning of my journey I thought my illness and actions I took would ruin my life, but they haven't - they have shaped me.

3. Normal is not definable

Have you heard of the saying 'you can't fit a square peg in a round hole?' Well, you are the the square peg. I cannot, no matter how hard I try fit you in a round hole. Your normal is different to my normal -  we do not have the same definition of the word . You need to define you life by utilising the things that make you happy; the things that work for you.

Now I'll end this with one of my favourite quotes: 
it [depression] may be a dark cloud passing across the sky but - if that is the metaphor - you are the sky. You where there before it. And the cloud can't exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud. 
- Matt Haig, 'Reasons To Stay Alive'
Thank you for reading.
Eliza x