So this week marks Mental Health Awareness week. As most of you know I am very passionate and encouraging to raise mental health awareness 365 days of the year and not just for a week. In some ways I am probably TOO annoying about it all, but it is a topic that I believe affects everyone in some way whether it be big or small and therefore it is important to look after your own mental health. (I say this whilst completely not listening to my own advice…. haha!)
It’s a weird day for me today. A day that I can see staying with me for quite some time. To many, many people today 19th May is the day Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018. However, for me this day represents the day I started to realise my mental health and wellbeing wasn’t all that great. I say I started to realise but really I got angry with myself and anyone else who dared suggest that I might not be okay.
Whilst I am not fully ready to talk about a lot of things, my thoughts, my feelings etc. I do feel with it being Mental Health Awareness week that it is probably a fairly appropriate time to say some things about that day. (Truthfully, if I don’t post this today then I know I won’t post it at all).
The day of the Royal wedding, excitement is filled within lots of people. I was at work and we had shiny foil crowns made of cardboard that we could hand out and also wear. The days before I remember speaking to a colleague about how we will make the shift a good one, keep spirits high and walk around like the total Queens we thought we were (Gem, you know fully well I mean you!!). Everything was fine, good. That morning the routine was the same as always. I knew I didn’t feel okay but I told myself I was. I had nothing to not feel okay about. (Well, I did…. but it’s currently highly locked away in my mind, sellotape all around it, padlocks, duct tape you name it and there’s only slight things that I have let out since and that is because my MH worker is pretty magic and she’s slowly opening up these things). I’ll cut a long story short but basically people would sense I wasn’t okay but they knew not to push because I’d then become snappy.
My fave line “It’s just one of them days, I don’t really wanna talk about it.”
They knew not to question any further. I liked that because then I could just shut everyone down without getting arsey. I was genuinely pleased that I could convince everyone which amazes me now cos the only person I was actually convincing was myself.
I remember during the shift all I wanted to do was cry and go home. Nothing was wrong, I just didn’t want to be there. For the first time ever I actually left during my shift. If I have been poorly then yeah I have rung in sick and other genuine reasons but I have never ever clocked out mid shift before. 2018 is now all a bit of a big messy blur but that day I just knew I didn’t want to be at work any longer, in fact the only thing I wanted was a hug and to be with my mum. I told them I was leaving cos I didn’t feel good and nobody questioned anything and it was accepted. It’s only now I realise that is because my friends there knew not to push me in asking what was wrong. They knew I just needed time and I would be back to the annoying, jokey, happy colleague I was.
I left, was very teary and the minute I got home I burst into tears on the doorstep and squeezed my mum so tightly. It’s weird to think when everyone was celebrating that I was feeling so low and had no idea why. Mum always makes me feel better though, no matter what she says or does it just works ‘mum’s magic’ I know I can count on her always.
You’d have thought after that scenario I would have talked. Like we all encourage with mental health awareness is to always talk, never keep things in and it is okay to not be okay. I even said this to people back then! Just didn’t take the advice myself.
It’s been a very long journey and I have lost and gained a number of things during then and now. But my main point of writing this is because I want you to know that talking is good, even if you write it down! Get things off your chest to whoever you feel comfortable with. I am aware not always everyone has someone to talk to but it is amazing how kind strangers can be especially those who work within the mental health society. You will never be alone.
Had I spoken there and then I imagine things wouldn’t have gotten quite as bad – I can’t say that for definite but I do believe things would have been easier. I can’t take that back now and I can’t change that. BUT what I can change is how we approach mental health and how it is vital that we talk. You may think your problems aren’t all ‘ that big’ or that ‘there’s people worse off’. Truth is, it is YOUR life. Yeah there might be people worse off, but you are also someone else’s ‘worse off’ person. You know yourself what is bad for you, what makes you feel down and nobody can tell you that you should feel different. Everyone is different, so no matter how big or small you may think your problems are – or how difficult your life may be you are still valid and worthy to be in the world.
It isn’t a competition so nobody should ever tell you that what you’re saying doesn’t matter. You know you. You don’t want to lose yourself and we certainly don’t want to lose you.