This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. In honour of this, I have decided to open up about my own mental health story.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 18 years old. After a chat with my doctor I refused to take medication, instead opting to go to therapy and talk about all the negatives thoughts that would dance around my head. After almost three months of therapy, I was told I didn’t need to go back and went on with my life happy and determined not to get back to that dark place. At 21 I was re-diagnosed but this time was encouraged to take medication to help. After a terrible job (which was so bad I quit and moved home from Aberdeen) and my rapidly spreading psoriasis getting me down, I took the doctor’s advice and started taking a drug called fluoxetine. I stayed on fluoxetine for six months and came off for three months before I realised I had convinced myself and the doctor to come off the medication far too early. I went back on the medication until last June when I felt ready and able to come back off the medication and haven’t really looked back since.
It’s not always easy but I have much more control over my mental health. Sometimes the little voice in the back of my mind telling me all the negative things and making me see life in a negative way gets a little louder and it’s not always easy to find the positive outlook and block the voice out, but I’m getting there. I have many more positive days than negative and though sometimes that negative voice will pop up, I’m getting much better at ignoring it and allowing the positive thoughts to come through.
I fully believe we need to break this stigma surrounding mental health, the stigma that not being okay is an issue, the stigma that needing help makes you weak, the stigma that we have to be perfect. The truth is one in four people in the world will be affected by a mental health condition at some point in their lives. We need to live in a world where we can say I’m struggling or I’m not okay without the fear of being judged. So let’s do something about it, lets change the stigma attached to mental health conditions.
As the late and wonderful Carrie Fisher said ‘“Living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls.” (I feel this applies to all Mental Health conditions and I’m sure she wouldn’t have disagreed).
If you or someone you know if struggling with mental health, these are companies who are designed to help if you feel you have no-one to turn to:
It’s okay not to be okay.