World Mental Health Day and Me

I was thinking about a subject to blog about tonight and remembered it is World Mental Health Day tomorrow. 4 words for such a massive and wide ranging topic. Mental health is something that I feel is starting to push its way forward as an issue to talk about and that’s amazing. There is a long way to go but I feel a buzz and momentum about mental health that has not been around for a while.

Mental health is something that really interests me mainly because it seems to affect people in so many different ways. I have known a few people who have been diagnosed with mental health issues and the only thing they have in common is that they are all amazing people in my life and I could not do without them.

My earliest memory of someone who was diagnosed with depression was someone who was extremely close to me and depression was triggered by a bereavement. I don’t think I have ever gone back to that person and spoken about that time in our lives and I may never do but that experience of mental health shaped my entire view that mental health can and does affect everyone. It totally smashed my misconceptions that people were not ‘strong’ enough to cope with what life had to throw at them if they were diagnosed with mental health because the person who was diagnosed is one of the strongest people I know.

Since then I have been made aware of a number of relatives and some really close friends that have been diagnosed with a number of mental health issues including manic depression. The main difference since my first experience is that I have been fortunate enough to volunteer as a counsellor which again completely changed my perspective about mental health. Things I have ‘learned’ about mental health? Firstly, everyone who experienced mental health issues were those who I would categorise as ‘strong’ people. One friend in particular is someone who is so inspiring, confident and friendly it did take me aback at first when she was diagnosed with depression but it made me really challenge my own views when that happened which I am grateful for. Secondly, it’s difficult to understand what each individual is going through because every circumstance that triggers ‘mood changes’ is different. Thirdly, everyone chooses to cope differently. Some people are creative, choosing to write (!), or draw. Others choose to run and feel free within a running environment. For others it is about talking.

Someone once tried to explain depression to me as a black hole and the depression acting as a mud bog sucking them in and being unable to see out of the black hole. Coping mechanisms were described as ladders to get out of the black hole and the beautiful surrounding landscape out of the black hole related to friends and family.

I once wrote something on facebook and I’d like to say this as an end to this rambling blog post

“For those of my lovely friends and family who may question why they are here and what they mean to people, you make my life so much better being part of it and I thank you”.

Mental health can affect anyone and does. It challenges my misconceptions every day and I welcome those challenges.

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