Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day, and mental health has really been at the forefront of my mind lately. Recent experiences have brought to light just how important it is to share our mental health issues with supportive people. I know someone who recently took their own life due to a struggle with depression. I wish that we as a society could work towards preventing this happening.
Please, talk to someone supportive about your mental health issues.
Please, everyone who has struggled with mental health, if you feel up to sharing your experiences and what helped you, please do.
I know my own experiences of mental health issues weren’t as severe as others, but they did affect me quite profoundly. For months I couldn’t eat or sleep properly. Usual daily activities were so much more difficult for me and nothing seemed to make sense in my head. I was wracked with anxiety, as if it was just a matter of months before my whole life came crashing down. I kept thinking about the T.S. Eliot quote from the introduction to Dante’s Inferno, ‘hell is where nothing connects with nothing’. Nothing was connecting properly in my mind and I felt an oppressive sense of doom.
In a way, my anxiety had created a self-sustaining loop, I was so anxious I couldn’t eat or sleep properly, but just taking care of myself in the most fundamental ways was the only path out of anxiety for me. About four months after had fallen head-first into anxiety, I started to feel better.
Like most diseases, recovering from mental health issues can take time. A lot of the usual things that help, like exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness, and meditation can take time to pull you out of anxiety or depression. But what I would say to someone struggling with a mental health issue is, keep going, it will get better. I recently heard someone say ‘every storm passes’, and it does.
I wanted to create something to spread mental health awareness, even in just a small way. I made two card designs in memory of the person I knew. They cared for rescue cats and enjoyed butterfly spotting. I wanted these cards to be something you could send someone to show you care. They are available to buy from my Etsy shop - www.etsy.com/uk/shop/owlandpenguinprints. All proceeds will go to the mental health charity Mind. I wanted them to be a way to show empathy. If there’s one way that all of us can help combat mental issues, it’s by showing more empathy.
According to researcher Brené Brown, one of the main blocks to empathy is shame. Her TED talks about vulnerability and shame are so honest and courageous. She talks about how society’s idea of how we should be prevent us from showing our vulnerability and lead to shame. The way around this is being truly empathetic.
If you are struggling with a mental health issue, please talk to someone supportive. If you need help, please get in touch with the mental health charity Mind - www.mind.org.uk.