Part of me thinks that it is a little bit of shame, part of me thinks it’s the embarrassment of appearing weak to others and another part is the absolute fear of being judged.
We humans can be so quick to make a snap judgement on a person, we are all guilty of this (me included), we take one look at someone or hear one thing about them and that’s it...judgement made. If we took the time to scratch beneath the surface, we could all take the time to be more open with each other and lend a helping hand to those who made need a bit of support.
My biggest fear when I was in the depth of depression was of what people would say about me if they knew what was really going on, I fought so hard to keep it this massive secret but in the end it exhausted me and I had to reach out for help. It’s the worry people will treat you differently, it can be the make or break for friendships and relationships around you, the ones who stick by you mean the most and the ones that leave aren’t much loss in the long run.
I read mental health blogs from my sofa, reading that someone else had felt what I was feeling made me feel less alone, it isn’t just me that has felt this low and that things will get better no matter what I am feeling right now.
So I decided to open up more, I wrote blogs/articles and the response that I got was surprising, people were relating and finding their own comfort in my words and if that is the positive impact just from me than surely being open has to be the way forward. It was a release for me as well to get all the things that I had kept buried deep down out in the open, those worries and thoughts, setting them free.
Looking back, I do see that I probably shouldn’t have worried as much about being judged or negative remarks, there will always be someone or some people that don’t understand mental health and that’s ok. My family and friends have learnt more about mental health through my experience, you have to be able to open your mind and see that everyone is different and we are all on different journeys and we can achieve amazing things with love and support.
There is no ‘quick fix’, it takes time and patience, and if we can all be more open and get talking about mental health it can only be a good thing, if it makes 1 person feel less alone then it’s job well done. Breaking the negative stigma around mental health is something I feel quite passionate about, we shouldn’t be shaming or judging a person if they are struggling, we should be listening and supporting instead, potentially it could save a life.
In the last year or so I have worked with a charity to reach out to others and tell people that ‘It’s ok not to be ok’ which had a wide audience, got an amazing response and it was the most rewarding thing I have done and I hope I will be able to do the same in the future. I’ve learnt that asking for help and reaching out is a sign of strength, it takes courage to open up and should never be underestimated the bravery it takes.
We should never have to ‘man up’, ‘get over it’ or ‘stop being so dramatic’, we shouldn’t feel that we have to do something or go somewhere if we don’t feel up to it, it’s ok to say no and put ourselves first.
I think it’s important to get talking about mental health and start breaking the stigma.
Sophie Collumbell is a regular writer for the Counsellors Café Magazine. In Sophie's words: "I don’t take life too seriously, always joking and making people laugh! Family and friends mean the world to me, and my little cat tiggs! Music is my life, I spend most time with my headphones on listening to anything and everything, I believe ‘When words fail music speaks’! I am more creative than anything, I love writing and knowing that hopefully, writing my struggles can help other people is just the best feeling ever! I cannot wait for the future so I can train to be a counsellor and hopefully help someone the way my counsellor has helped me!'