I’m quite nervous to write this, even though I shouldn’t be.
So this week is Mental Health Awareness week, something which is just so important. As a result, I thought I should talk about my mental health.
I should say that I do not have a diagnosed mental health illness or anything like that; I very much appreciate the difference between myself and someone who has depression, or OCD, or panic attacks. However: it is vital for us to think of mental health as exactly like physical health. For example, a lot of people, at sometime in their life, suffer from an illness such as cancer or similar; these are serious and obviously require medical help. Compare this to mental health illnesses – it is exactly the same and I strongly believe that it should be treated with the same level of seriousness and respect.
But this is not what I’m focusing on. Think about your general physical health. For the majority of people, normally it is reasonably good. We all have bad days, though. Everyone suffers from the odd cold or sniffle or sore throat from time to time. Sometimes it’s not serious enough to disturb our day, but we might struggle through school or uni or work. Sometimes it can be serious enough to warrant a day off, or several, to give our bodies time to rest and to recover. Sometimes it is seasonal, for example many people, including myself, suffer from hay fever only during the summer months. Sometimes we get up in the morning and find ourselves saying to the people around us “I just feel rubbish today.” And that’s okay. Well, of course it’s okay, as we obviously cannot help being ill.
What we as a society need to understand is that mental health is not only relative to physical health, it is more or less exactly the same, and should be treated as such. Mental health is defined as ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.’ so you can have both good and bad mental health. So why is it not as acceptable to say “I just feel rubbish today”, and be referring to our mental health?
Recently, I’ve had lots of poor mental health days. It partly stems from exam stress, but it also stems from nothing at all, becuase it is perfectly normal to have bad days. Sometimes it is frustrating to not know why you are sad or anxious or stressed or feeling any other emotion, and I think this is what I have struggled with most over the past couple of years, but this is only natural, as natural as having a cold. And just as a cold quickly passes, I need people to know that the sadness will pass in time. Things will get better.
This stigma around the whole topic of mental health needs to be lifted. Young people need to be better educated on the topic of mental health, and this is why. To everyone who is suffering from a mental illness: you are amazing. You are strong. You are valued, and so is your mental health. But to everyone else: It IS okay not to be okay (and yes, I am quoting Jessie J lyrics!) Take care of yourself, particularly now that we are fast the start of exam season. Keep check of your mental health. If you’re having a bad day, let me tell you that it is completely and uttterly normal, but take action. If it is revision that is stressing you out, take a ‘mental health day’. Exams are very important but your health, and that is both mental and physical, should take priority. Do something for yourself. Read your favourite book. Watch an episode of your favourite tv show, maybe something that makes you laugh (I highly recommend Parks and Recreation!😉) Have a nice, relaxing bath. Eat some chocolate! Have an early night, as sleep is incredibly important. Listen to your favourite music. Do some mindfulness, there are so many apps to help you here which I find so useful! Talk to someone about how you’re feeling, a parent, a friend, anyone you trust. If you feel uncomfortable about doing that, write your feelings down. My journal has proven invaluable to me recently.
Do whatever you need to do. But please know that you are not alone, and remember that even if you don’t suffer from a mental illness, it doesn’t mean your mental health is not important.
#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #EndTheStigma ❤