This is another guest blog spot for mental health awareness month for The Bipolar Writer blog. Today is a guest blog from Matthew Kinton. You can find his blog @ https://apparentlyitisgoodtoshare.wordpress.com/
Be Open About Your Mental Health
Depression sucks. There are no two ways around it. It has brought me some of the worst moments I have experienced and pain that I wish upon no one. I have cried in the shower, I have cried in church, and I have cried on park benches. There are times where I thought I couldn’t carry on going and times when I wanted to end it all. It has lost me, friends, it made me drop out of university, twice, and means I spend a lot of my time curled up in a ball in my bed. I am nowhere near better, and I struggle to see a positive future. As someone who fights this way, I want to be open about this. I want to talk about my issues and let people see a real face of depression, with all its lows, but with the highs as well.
Considering I am putting this on a blog I am probably speaking to the converted but I want to set out why I believe we should be open about our mental health illnesses. I will set out five of those reasons
Firstly – it helps me! I am open very selfishly, it helps me. Talking about your mental health struggles is a really helpful first step dealing with them. When I was first ill I hid it from everyone. It might have been shame or stigma that kept my mouth shut but what pain I could have avoided if only I had spoken! Speaking gives an outlet for the thoughts in your head, it helps to give it distance and helps put it in perspective. I find it often helps to sort my thoughts and release the pressure of them whirling around my brain. When you don’t talk about it is like you are not accepting there is a problem, you can’t try and deal with it until you accept there is something that needs to be dealt with. Each time you speak about it, it becomes a little bit easier. Talking about your issues the first time is hardest, it won’t instantly change you but it will help!
Secondly – it helps others in your situation! When I am low I feel I am not helping anyone. I feel like I am living a selfish existence. Being open can help others! Not only does it help others to open up about their struggles but it helps people to know they are not alone. Others have been through what you are going through. Though everyone’s mental illness experience is different to others there are shared feelings and thoughts. You can help others through by sharing what helps you! You can help others by just saying my life sucks right now because there will be many others who are right there with you! As a Christian it is often the darkest parts of the bible that help me when I am low. Look at Job chapter 3 where a man wishes he wasn’t even born and Psalm 88 which ends with ‘darkness is my only friend’ and you see the depths of depression. It really helps me when I am low!
Thirdly – it helps those that seek to help! Sometimes the hardest people to be open with our family and friends. I don’t want my Mum to know about my suicidal thoughts as I know it hurts her. However, they can more effectively help you if they know what you are going through. It might hurt them to know and you might not always get kind responses but the vast majority of close friends and family would prefer to know. Sometimes there is family stuff involved with your illness and so it is Ok not to talk to everyone, being selective isn’t a bad thing. I have friends who understand depression far more now then they did before. They are more effective at helping me then they were and I have been overwhelmed by their kindness. It also means they can help others better in the future, the chances are you won’t be the only person they will know who will struggle with mental health issues. The more you teach them the more they can help others!
Fourthly – it helps ends the stigma! Stigma is a huge problem with mental health. This is very often because people don’t understand! Ignorance is a huge problem, and there is an easy way to help this, education! People need to see that anyone can suffer from mental health problems. Let’s be realistic sadly there will always be some that don’t understand, who are intolerant and abusive. We can though, fight stigma and we do that by talking openly about mental health and educating. See a great article, share it with friends and family, help to educate. This blog is a great place to start!
Fifthly – everyone is screwed up! I often think that other people have things sorted. That is not the case, everyone has problems, everyone is screwed up in one way or another! Not everyone’s problems might be as obvious as mine or as yours but they have them. By being open we allow others to be open about their issues. I have had many people come up to me and talk about their problems because I have been open about mine. It allows me to try and help them but it also breaks down barriers. Rather then presenting perfect images of ourselves we can present real pictures of real and usually slightly broken people.
Let us talk about mental health! Be open about your struggles and be open about your successes! I have depression, I take medication for it, I have done therapy, I cry all the time, I have hurt family and friends, I am my worst enemy, I really don’t like myself, I feel like the biggest screw up in the world and I have suicidal thoughts. I could go on, I do go on in my blog. But I am other things as well. I am man who laughs, who loves my friends and family, who is normal, who loves rhyming dictionaries and coming up with bedtime stories and again I could go on. I want to be open about all these things and I hope that you will be too.