A friend of mine posted a well written blog yesterday regarding the stigma around being open about mental health issues (you can read that here and I urge you to do so). It made me think about how some people frown upon people who talk about it openly in public forums.
When we’re brought into this world we’re all born, in theory, on a level playing field. Of course that’s not quite true. Some are born with better fiscal advantage to others or more stable social environments than others. But some things are exactly the same. We’re born, we live and then we eventually pass away.
My family were working class. My dad was a pitman, mam looked after us whilst working part time jobs. There were good times, there were bad times. We got through them.
I don’t think this has a direct influence on my mental health issues. I can see traits that run through my family, but each of us fight our own fight on a different beast, with varying degree of success and failure.
Part of my openness to talk about it comes from both my parents. My mam has always told me to be open and honest about things, to take strength from that. My dad, in a move that stunned is all, started opening up in a massive way when he was diagnosed with early onset alzhiemers a few years ago. Not only with us, but publicly as a spokesperson for the Alzhiemers Society. This a massive step forward for a man who was very closed and private, coming from a time and community that didn’t really allow you to open up to this degree.
Not only has my dad talked about his alzhiemers, but he’s also opened up about his mental health issues. He’s been diagnosed with depression, which is understandable. It’s still hard for me to hear him talk about seriously contemplating suicide (and I know he feels the same when I talk about my attempt) but I’m pleased he does. We should never feel guilty or bad about talking about these darker things that happen or concern us. If we all felt comfortable enough to talk about these things. I find it so frustrating that there’s people life (friends and family) who can’t because they still have that fear of “what if?” in their lives.
Money or privilege hasn’t given me the strength to be open. My family and friends have encouraged me to be open and vocal.
Do I still have anxiety and depression? Yes, but I’m in a comfortable relationship with them. I know they’re there and present and we have a “yin and yang’ thing with each other. Are there times when I wish I wasn’t here anymore? I’ll be honest here and say that, yes, part of me still feels that. But it’s something that’s held pretty securely in check inside of me. I deal with it when the feeling starts to bubble to the surface and it’s held in check. It’s not a suicidal feeling, more a one of not wanting to exist. To me being suicidal is more the act of wanting to kill yourself where as this more the feeling is almost just disappearing altogether.
We need to encourage more people to open up about the way they are and not be judged by others. We should be there to support, not push people down. How can we expect to look to our future if we deny our past of it’s existence?
We need to learn that we can be open. We shouldn’t feel shame or guilt over this.