Let’s talk about our mental health
Katherine thinks it's more important than ever to talk about mental health and seek the support you need
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Recognise your strengths and how far you’ve come. You are so much stronger after every episode than you think you are."
It’s important to talk about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicidal feelings,. Whatever it is, talk about it. I think because it’s not talked about enough people feel it’s not okay to talk about. That causes stigma. We underestimate the power of talking. It’s a massive release when you’ve been bottling things up for so long to just talk about it. Let it all out.
Diagnosed with Depression
I was diagnosed with depression/anxiety about 3 years ago. I never felt like it was something I could talk about. But why should it be a secret? It’s not shameful and it’s not my fault. I’m still the same person and I still have the same personality. It doesn’t change people. It’s not something people should be scared of.According to the World Health Organisation, by 2020, half the western world’s population will suffer from it at some time within their lifetime.
Medication helps but it doesn’t magically make everything better. Depression is an illness that has a biochemical basis much of the time, so why judge someone for taking medicine for it? As much as I hate taking my medication, I know it helps me. I hate that I rely on it to feel okay but I’m not always going to be on it and if I am, that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of help in this world.
You should never feel disappointed in yourself for not being able to deal with life in the same way as other people. People who do not have depression don’t understand how it feels, how it can absorb all your energy and physically paralyse you so getting out of bed in the morning feels impossible. It also affects your immune system, which a lot of people don’t realise, making it extremely difficult for your body to fight off infection. If anyone knows me, they’ll know I’m always sick. I always have colds, flus, and stomach bugs. I catch them so easily & they seem to take forever to go away.
Being kind to ourselves
I think we are too hard on ourselves. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect that it’s physically exhausting. If we slip up we need to learn to forgive ourselves and not have regrets weeks or months after. I have so many regrets that I know I need to let go. I’ve made decisions that I know were right for me at the time but now I feel like I’ve made mistakes. One thing my counsellor taught me was that if it was what you needed at the time then it shouldn't be a regret. You did what you needed to do. It was self care.
I’ve been having a hard time lately, where I thought I was back to the very start and had come nowhere. But that's not true, I’ve come so far. As cliche as it sounds, life is one big roller coaster. It’s full of ups and downs for everyone. For people with depression the downs are a bit bigger, but we push ourselves back up. And as we travel that roller-coaster, we learn, about ourselves, about others. It makes us more empathic.
If you slip up, if you fall back down, that does not mean you’re back at the beginning. Use what you’ve learned from past experiences. Every mood episode has learning potential and teaching potential. Recognise your strengths and how far you’ve come. You are so much stronger after every episode than you think you are.
Talk to someone if you have a lot on your mind. We think it doesn’t help but it really does. We bottle things up so much, it’s not healthy. Try talk to someone, or write out your thoughts. Trust me you will feel some relief when you do.
Talk to your GP. They will understand more than you think. They’ll recommend the best option for you and they won’t judge. It can be difficult to open up at the beginning but in the long run it will all be worth it. I struggled at the beginning but my counsellor became a friend to me and helped both me and my parents to begin to understand my depression and anxiety and we worked through it as a team. I will forever be grateful to her.
Getting help can also be going to a friend or family member. Go out for coffee or sit down at home and let them know how you’re feeling. They care about you so they won’t judge, they will just want you to be okay. They may not always know what to say but even just letting out all your feelings and not bottling it up can be a massive weight off your shoulders. They also might have experienced the same struggle too.
If you feel you can’t sit face to face with someone just yet, there are online services where you can go online chat or email people who will help. You can also ring someone and talk, they will listen for hours.
Whatever you do, know you are not alone and someone will always be there to listen no matter what. Never be ashamed of the way you feel, you’re only human after all.
This article was written by a SpunOut.ie volunteer. Check out our volunteering opportunities here and get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved.