I’ve received so many messages from people after posting my last article (if you haven’t read it you can check it out here), thanking me for being able to say what they haven’t been able to; for making them realize they aren’t alone and for putting words to the feelings so many of us struggle with. But after reading all of the messages it made me realize something important, something many of us forget: nothing can change if we don't talk about it.
Struggling with mental health is hard in and of itself, but it’s even harder when you struggle alone. You feel trapped, like no one could ever possibly understand what you’re going through. And for those that don’t suffer from mental illnesses, maybe they won’t ever completely understand the way we feel and that we don’t have a say in how we feel. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and explain it to the best of our abilities, no matter how hard it is.
Mental health is one of those things that is not discussed enough. Many feel ashamed to admit they struggle with their own mind and can’t seem to take control; they don’t want others to look down on them or see them as impaired. I didn’t talk about my mental health issues for years, for the exact same reasons. I didn’t want others to pity me, I didn’t want them to think I was fragile and broken. I didn’t want anyone to think of me differently.
But I’ve come to realize those that are really there for you won’t think of you differently. They won’t care that you struggle, but will instead try to offer their support to the best of their abilities. Those that make you feel bad for expressing your thoughts and feelings or just tell you it’s “all in your head” and to “get over it” are the people you shouldn’t have in your life. One of the best things you can do when you’re struggling with your mental health is to surround yourself with people who will listen and be there for you, not try and make you feel inferior for you feelings.
But in order to surround ourselves with those people we need to talk. We need to be open about how we feel, we need to not feel ashamed of the way our mind works. In order to get the help, support, and love we need, we need to talk and not stop talking. We need to be honest with ourselves and others, we need to do our best to help others who don’t understand try to understand how we feel. In order for things to change, we need to talk.
I’m sick of the negative stigma that surrounds mental health. I’m sick of myself and millions others feeling ashamed to admit that we do need help and that sometimes we aren’t okay. I’m sick of people who don’t understand making people who struggle with mental illness feel inferior for the way their brain works. It isn’t something we can control, trust me we all wish we could make it go away. Mental illnesses are not a choice.
I truly believe that the more we talk about it, not matter how uncomfortable it might be, the more we can get others to understand. I believe that the more we talk about it, the more support and help we can receive. I believe the more we talk, and don’t stop talking, we all can change the stigma surrounding mental health. I’m optimistic for the future, and I look forward to the day where mental health can be talked about openly and be understood instead of judged.
For those struggling, please, talk. For those who aren't struggling, please, listen. We can all change the stigma and bring about change, together.