Hi everyone. I’ve got a very special treat for you with today’s post, which is written by the fantastic Charlotte Underwood. Charlotte is an amazing writer and mental health advocate who posts a lot about anxiety, depression and suicide, with a view to raising awareness and tackling the stigma around mental illnesses.
Her website is: https://charlotteunderwoodauthor.com/ and she is also very active on Twitter (@CUnderwoodUK). Please do read and support her work as I am massive fan of her work and feel she deserves as much praise as possible. I wholeheartedly agree with Charlotte’s words and feel that no-one should be ashamed of their mental health, nor should they feel like their feelings are invalid. Hopefully her words can help others as well.
Trigger Warning: This post mentions suicide.
Mental health is really hard to talk about, why is that? We all have thoughts, feelings and emotions so when did we decide that something that is so normal, is so abnormal?
When I was growing up, I had no idea what mental health was or let alone that I was suffering from a form of mental illness. I just accepted that I was a ‘drama queen’ or ‘hypochondriac’ because that’s what I was told I was – like there was no other possibilities as to why I am always so worried.
I even know that I would freeze up when people wanted to talk to me about my feelings about situations, things like relationships and friendships would scare me because if I opened up, would they judge me and no longer want to be in contact with me?
It got so bad that when I was finally told I had depression and generalized anxiety disorder and henceforth was given a short-term therapist, I would lie to my therapist because I was so darn ashamed of what was going on in my head – I didn’t want my therapist to think I was crazy.
It seems so strange to be probably one of the most open people that I know when it comes to mental health today, as I certainly self-stigmatised and felt ashamed of who I was. It took me so much hard work on my end to feel comfortable to even admit that I was hurting – even today I hesitate in case I come across needy or annoying.
I did think that I was the problem for the most part, I was an octagon in a world full of rectangles, I just didn’t seem to fit and it seemed I was the only one suffering with some form of mental illness. I had no idea, that it felt this way because I was no alone in feeling ashamed, like, right now there are millions of people hurting, crying and maybe even screaming but they will still get up and go out into the world like everything is perfectly fine, although it really isn’t.
What made me really think was my father’s suicide. A man full of so much joy, wit and wisdom who seemed to have become the puppet master of his world. He had come from nothing and yet found everything he said he ever wanted, so when he went missing and sadly was found as a suicide victim, I found it hard to comprehend that someone so perfect in my eyes, could be just as broken and hurting as me.
It just goes to show though, it doesn’t matter how much you can understand or relate to a person, it doesn’t matter how supportive or loving you are – if we don’t talk about mental health then how can we actually help each other?
If I can just give you one piece of advice, it’s just to let someone know how you are really feeling, even if you write it out on a piece of paper or as an anon on a forum, it doesn’t matter how or where you do it – just talk about your feelings because they matter and so do you.