By Emma Violet | CONTRIBUTOR |
I’ve wanted to upload a blog post like this for some time. The desire to write this post intensified following personal, first-hand experience of mental health deterioration, which has been met by diminishing responses and harsh judgement versus the support and encouragement that was actually required. Despite the numerous ‘mental health awareness days’ and now even ‘mental health awareness weeks‘ dotted around the annual calendar and a few significant, successful mental health campaigns, there is still so much misunderstanding and ignorance in our society when it comes to understanding and/or supporting those of us with mental health issues. I am sick to death of mental health being regarded as less important than physical health. The brain is one of the most important organs in our body, yet most of us neglect it. Taking time off for a ‘mental health day’ is not the same as taking time off sick because you have the flu or have a stomach virus. Why? Even someone like myself who struggles with ‘Generalised Anxiety Disorder‘ and who gets excruciating stomach pain, nausea and feverish symptoms as a result of my anxiety would still feel guilty taking time off of Uni, unless, of course, the origin of those symptoms belonged to some form of stomach virus or 24 hour sickness bug (i.e. physical illness/cause). I’d feel much more comfortable looking after myself because of the latter reason, purely because physical health is more clearly understood and treated with far more empathy than mental health.
I wanted other individual’s experiences to feature in this post, instead of making this post central to me and my personal mental health experience. Participating individuals briefly describe some of the judgement and misconceptions they have had to deal with in their daily lives. They also provide their honest and raw experiences with mental health and what they personally believe would help them feel more supported by others. A few lovely, courageous people have provided their responses below, so please do be respectful and sensitive when reading their experiences. It’s still not easy to be honest about your mental health, because even though mental health awareness has improved in recent years, there is still significant progress to be made. I hope that the accounts below provide comfort to those of you suffering with a mental health issue and if you do not have a mental health issue yourself, I hope this post sheds some light on what it can really be like for someone suffering.
** Please note that everyone featured has given permission for their Twitter username to feature in this post. If ‘Anonymous’ appears, this individual requested for their personal identity to be hidden.**
What have people said about your mental health that is negative or inaccurate? Have they acted a certain way that is unhelpful?
What would you like people to know about your actual experience with mental health i.e. symptoms, thoughts, daily/weekly struggles?
What response would you find helpful from others when you’re struggling? What should they know?
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About the Author: Emma Violet – Contributor
Emma Violet graduated 1st class honors in BSc Psychology in 2017 and is currently undertaking an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Reading, UK. Unaware she was suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) since childhood, Emma received a formal diagnosis at 16 when she was also diagnosed with depression.
Thus, due to my own mental health experiences and my general interest in Psychology, I am extremely passionate about mental health awareness. I have begun to talk openly about my mental health experiences on social media (especially my blog), encouraging vital discussions and providing a safe, non-judgmental platform for others to share their stories. I also regularly post positive affirmations and quotes to reassure others that they are not alone and to hopefully provide them with a little bit of strength to make it through particularly challenging days.