When I began writing about my mental health, it was for myself. I thought it would help to see the madness inside my head written in black and white in front of me in my own words, rather than on a psychiatric report.
When I first created my blog, I honestly did not think anyone would read it and I certainly didn’t expect anyone to care. It was simply a creative outlet in some half-arsed attempt to ‘self-heal’. My blog was now public, but it still felt private.
However, as my view count slowly started to rise and the comments began to appear, I was overwhelmed. Every time someone reaches out to me to thank me for sharing my story, it’s beyond humbling and I’ve been moved to tears by some of the lovely comments I have received.
I have been called brave and an inspiration, but I don’t see myself as that. I just trudge through each day as it comes and I try to be honest about the monster on my back. So many movies and TV shows romanticise mental illness and depict is as something grounding and beautiful. It’s utter shite and completely damaging. Mental illness is an ugly, horrific, relentless beast that needs to be exposed.
I share my story because mental illness is like a dirty little secret that everyone is aware of but nobody openly acknowledges. So many are suffering in silence, feeling utterly hopeless and totally alone. The overpowering feeling of being furious with the world for not understanding your pain, or simply recognising it. The fear of being labelled and judged by an ignorant and under-educated society who seem to think that our ‘crazy’ is contagious. The awkward frustration of hearing your diagnosis used as a punchline. I get all of this. I’ve been there. It is forgotten that there are many types of complex mental disorders with different levels of severity from person to person. Instead, we are all painted by the same brush.
There always seems to be the need for justification and evidence that someone with a mental illness is unwell. We are pinned down with a spot light shone in our faces and told that we “don’t look sick” and “you were fine yesterday.” This is especially true for those who suffer at the grips of their mental health but are also ‘high-functioning’ and are still able sustain an active life that seems somewhat ‘normal.’ We are told we are negative and lazy. We should just ‘be happy.’ Would you ask a cancer patient to prove the pain they are in or tell someone with a broken leg to just walk it off? No you wouldn’t. Why? Because their pain is visible and therefore it is validated. Mental illness is like a ghost; unless you’ve experienced the supernatural, it will only be believed if it is seen.
I don’t expect to be able to move heaven and Earth with my words, nor do I believe they will change the world. But I will be part of an amazing collective of mental health bloggers, campaigners and speakers who unite to be heard. I can turn the most horrid moments of my life and use them for something positive to help others. Even if only one person tells me I have made them feel understood and less alone, then it’s all worth it. I write for myself, to fight the stigma and for the suffering people out there who haven’t quite found their voice yet.
This is for you.