The stigma surrounding mental health is something that sadly still continues to be an issue in our world today. Something that most people struggle with more than the anxiety/depression itself.
The shame of what I was going through kept me silent for so long, until I one day decided that what I was experiencing was not going to consume me anymore. The only way I was going to play my part in changing this “stigma” that is affecting so many people out there, was to be the girl that decides to speak out to my peers and beyond and to try and not let my ideations of other peoples opinions get in my way.
Over the years the terms anxiety and depression have been used so loosely. Generalising the emotions of stress or deep sadness has led to the real meaning of anxiety and depression getting lost in translation. Before I started my first blog, I read a lot of stories of individuals who struggle with mental health. Many have been belittled and led to believe that what they are going through is not only common and normal but that they are using this “illness” as an excuse… because after all, everyone feels anxious when they are stressed, right?
Sadly, this is not the case and unfortunately due to stress being the accepted anxiety experience among the general population, it has created such a stigma over this disorder and made it harder for those who battle with this every day.
Without firsthand experience, the impact these disorders can have on an individual’s life are difficult to comprehend. It is a very real illness and can affect so much of your every day life.
Yes, everyone suffers with anxiety at times when they are stressed but these are mostly temporary. The anxiety eventually subsides and this individual can get back to their day to day life. However, there are those, like myself, who do not have the ability to alleviate these symptoms. The anxiety lingers every day, excessively and relentlessly meaning that we are always expecting the worst in every situation, even when there is no reason to.
Most people around me never even knew I suffered with any kind of mental health issue before my first blog post. I would go into social situations and constantly be analysing myself, what I said and the way I acted… which more often than not created me to become more anxious and closed up… and in turn, made me panic even more. This still happens on a frequent basis within groups of people, even around people I have known for a long, long time and I know that this will always be an ongoing battle for me.
Speaking out was an extremely hard thing and I still get nervous at the way people are perceiving my blogs and myself but then I think… the only thing that really matters to me now is who these blogs are reaching out to. The amount of people that have confided in me since my first blog has been incredible and if I have helped even just one person feel less alone, that is my job done.
The truth is, you never really know what anyone is going through. You could be the loudest, bubbliest and happiest person in the room but inside be suffering complete and utter turmoil. Depression and anxiety is a very lonely illness and I often get so disheartened when I have not heard from people in a while. If you can do one thing today, reach out to the people that matter to you, you never know when they may need a friendly chat to get them through the day. Sometimes, this can change their whole perspective on their day.
This is one thing I have found so hard since speaking out with my first blog. Sometimes people often do not approach you or speak to you about mental health, out of fear of upsetting you or reminding you of your problems. Please know this is not the case. I can only speak for myself here, but talking helps so much. Someone with anxiety is not going to openly tell you how they are feeling if they are down, but if you take the first step every so often in asking how they are doing… it will make them feel so at ease talking to you about it going forwards and together we can break this stigma bit by bit.
Never be afraid of your feelings and never be afraid of talking about them.