Mental Health Matters…

The month of May is all about mental health awareness. I like to blog about mental health here on Starting Today because I think there is still so much stigma surrounding it. It’s widely misunderstood and still discriminated against, whether it’s in the workplace or not.

How often have you heard someone say, “she’s unstable” or have you heard a friend complain about someone having “mood swings” at work? I get it, mental health is difficult to work with. It’s difficult for those who are experiencing it and for those who surround them.

The truth is, there’s such a broad umbrella of behaviours, and the severity can range from mild to severe, mental health is related to mental illness, but is not exclusive to it. Mental health can include personality disorders, depression, anxiety and more. But we should never label anyone as “crazy.” I think you could argue that we all suffer from mental health issues, at least we all will at some point in our lives. It’s incredibly common, but many of those that experience mental health issues often don’t talk about it because they think it is perceived as a weakness.

And often, we judge others instead of accepting them because it’s easier to do so…

For those suffering from mental health issues, life can feel perplexing and hopeless. Simple mistakes seem like huge mistakes. Most days feel overwhelming, even getting out of bed can feel like climbing up a mountain.

People who don’t suffer from mental health issues may see them as lazy or impossible to motivate. The truth is everyone has bad days, but with people suffering from mental health a bad day can be debilitating. When these bad days are met with anger, this in turn can create another set of problems.

People who suffer from mental health problems begin to internalise guilt and shame, and they start to self-loath. Eventually, if this is extreme enough it may lead to substance abuse such as alcoholism or drug abuse to self-medicate, and the cycle goes on…

The truth is that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in the UK.

Since the pandemic, this has undoubtedly been higher! So why is there still so much stigma surrounding the issue?

Perhaps it has to do with tradition?

We raised men to be strong and that boys don’t cry. We taught women it was wrong to get hysterical. We watched America fight a war on drugs without looking at the people who were most affected by drug abuse. We failed to understand that addicts are sick people and they need help.

Systematically, we raised our kids to be like everyone else, don’t show weakness or chinks in their armour. We cared more about what the neighbours thought than looking after our inner thoughts. We stopped listening to impulses and what we wanted, for example feeling hungry but we won’t eat because we want to look good.

I would like to put this out there today, we need to readdress our thoughts on mental health. We need to understand that some of us are more emotional than others. Some of us are fighting invisible battles. Some of us think differently. Some of us find it hard to trust others.

When you take the time to understand where all of this behaviour comes from, it makes you question your response to it because you begin to realise that the very concept of being “strong” is a weak one.

It’s a system we have had in place for many years, and it has shown that time and time again, it is flawed.

It is fundamentally broken.

Firstly, we need to concentrate on our own mental health and learn to take care of ourselves. Secondly, move away from society’s traditions and readdress what makes us strong.

Inner strength stems from self-love, so let’s talk positively about ourselves and learn to love all of our flaws, for what is creativity without emotion? Or talent without contrast?

A poem about mental health…

I’ve always been a dreamer,

A wild kind of don’t believe the hype type,

Wandering through this life,

A zephyr with a zesty temper,

I believe in kindness,

I desire so much,

Someone told me once,

That ” You can’t bottle the changing seasons,

You should look for life’s deeper meanings”,

Sometimes I forget that I hold all of this power,

If you let them,

People will take it from you,

Or worse than that,

They fake it,

Imagine that?

Pretending to be an entirely different person?

That sounds exhausting.

So, look after your own energy,

That is not selfish.

Listen to yourself,

What are you saying?

I say, “I think I’m a bit crazy.”

So when life gets tough,

I like to keep hidden,

But the truth is,

If you hide away,

People fill in the blanks,

To tell you exactly who you are not,

And then you get into all sorts of trouble.

You start to believe what they think,

That’s when you need to take

A long hard look in the mirror.

One day,

I’ll meet someone that’ll show me people can be different.

Until then, I choose to listen.

Not to others, but to what I have to say.

I talk to myself kindly so that I can shine brightly.

I feel the anxiety and that I am not good enough,

Of feeling never quite right.

And when the waves of darkness wash over me I get up,

And I choose to fight…

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Soph.

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