My Experience With Mental Health

Thursday, 2 June 2016

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As I was starting to sort through all of my belongings in preparation to move flats in two weeks time, I came across an old notebook of mine that was all too familiar. It was the notebook that I had used as my outlet for all of my young, depressed thoughts, mostly between 2010 and 2012. Funnily enough, I actually dedicated an entire post to this notebook back in 2014. Looking back at that post now, I'm surprised by how much I actually revealed. I bore my heart and soul into that notebook when I was 16 and it actually broke my heart to read back through it again. I was so young yet I was so lost and confused.

My experience with mental health is this: somebody in my family passed away tragically in the summer of 2010 which led to a year or two bout of depression and loneliness. It's all there in that notebook; every feeling, every thought. When I moved to Manchester back in 2013, I could feel myself being slowly dragged down once again. My depression wasn't nearly as long and painful as it had been the first time, but it was a demon that I had to overcome. Thankfully, as I tip tap away at my keyboard, I have been demon-free since the beginning of 2014. I have felt sadness, sure, and sometimes sadness for what seems like no reason at all, but I have certainly not felt the level of helplessness as I had experienced in the past. 

Reading back through my notebook, it dawned on me how society had influenced my illness into something far more dangerous that it ever should have been. I was romanticising mental health; I was taking advantage of my hurt and furthering it by writing the way that I did. It was as if depression was the 'in thing' and that I had to keep feeling that way if I were ever to write anything worth reading. My second bout of depression at the start of university, however, was a different matter entirely. I felt desperate and alone but not quite in the same way. As a rule of thumb, I try not to speak negatively on this blog as I have seen what that can do to me. My notebook doesn't have a shred of positivity; I was bouncing off my own sadness to create even more. When I fell into depression again, however, I forced myself to see the light by writing positively on this blog. That's not to say that I was lying to myself and pretending to be happy! I definitely let the readers of my blog know that I was unhappy and struggling with an illness, but I found ways to inspire and motivate myself to get better. That's something that I never could have done had I only been writing in a personal notebook that only my eyes would see. My blog has helped me in far more ways than I could ever have imagined.

Although I feel as thought my depression has been completely tamed, I do suffer with anxiety and panic attacks from time to time. Looking at the length of this post, however, that may have to wait for another time. Never be ashamed of having a mental illness, but please do not romanticise it the way that my little 16-year-old heart did. Different processes work for different people but I truly believe that the first step towards getting better is talking to other people in a positive way, not sitting alone in a dark room jotting your broken feelings down into a notebook. Please don't be afraid to leave your stories down below!

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