Thursday, 1 February 2018

Time to Talk

I have been wanting (and trying) to write about this subject for quite a while. To stand up, and to speak up. But there has always been something holding me back. A niggling worry, living in the back of my mind, rearing its ugly head whenever I gather a bit more courage. This little voice telling me to shush and act cool. But over the last few months, this need to talk has become harder and harder to ignore. So this is me, Erin, talking about mental health.

Like most people, I have suffered with some degree of mental health problems: namely anxiety and depression. I know that I'm not alone in this situation, because these are entirely human emotions and normal to experience at some point in our lives. Most people, however experience them in more manageable levels with them being fleeting and temporary: may it be in the form of anxiety about starting university, impending exams, or feeling low after going through a break up.
These are normal emotions! So why don't we talk about them? Why are people so frightened to answer the dreaded, 'How are you?', with anything other than, 'I'm okay' ? 

Why is saying, that you feel really down any different from saying that you have a terrible cold? I am guilty of using this nothing answer, and I suppose that this makes me part of the issue. But one of the main reasons that I find myself doing this, like so many others, ironically enough is my anxiety. I worry about the stigma attached to getting anxious, being labelled a 'worrier' or 'neurotic'. I convince myself of all sorts of ridiculous situations, getting myself worked up over what should be an easy and honest response. This is blooming scary, and  just makes the whole situation worse the next time as the fear can grow. 

Mental health can make you feel so isolated and alone, terrified to speak up about what you are feeling. Convincing yourself that it is entirely in your head or that you are imagining these feelings. But you are not alone. There are so many people out there going through things which you would never know just by looking at them. Even the strongest of people can be impacted by mental health issues. A common worry which many sufferers have is that it makes you weak, but it truly doesn't. Suffering from mental health doesn't make you weak, and it certainly doesn't mean that you are any less of a person!
Mental health may be an invisible illness, but this doesn't mean it isn't real or have the potential cause a lot of damage to those who are going through it. Just think of the wind, you can't see it but it can uproot even the strongest and most stable of trees.

But what can you do to help? How can you alone make a difference? 

Sometimes just checking in on your friends, a simple text asking them out for a coffee, making them aware that they are not alone and able to talk to you about things! Because when you start that conversation, you don't only help them, but you help yourself. too. You conquer the initial worry about being judged, and make the next conversation that much easier. Remember, it's time to talk.

Art courtesy of the incredible Rosie Chomet. Click here to be taken to her instagram page which includes many more of her amazing images.


Mental health helplines




Whether you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, these helplines can offer expert advice.

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you've been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)
Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk

CALM

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
Website: www.thecalmzone.net

Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
Website: www.depressionalliance.org

Men's Health Forum

24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk

Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Mind

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Website: www.mind.org.uk

No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
Website: www.nopanic.org.uk

OCD Action

Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)
Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk

OCD UK

A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
Website: www.ocduk.org 

PAPYRUS

Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)
Website: www.papyrus-uk.org

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Website: www.rethink.org

Samaritans

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Website: www.samaritans.org.uk

SANE

Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30-10.30pm)
Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: http://www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
Website: www.sane.org.uk/support

YoungMinds

Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Website: www.youngminds.org.uk

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