I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a counsellor, nor am I someone with any professional qualifications in mental health. I'm just that guy on the radio who happens to be a human being with actual feelings and emotions. At 22, I feel I've enough experience of life to provide some tips and advice on keeping your head healthy but young enough to understand that I'm not an expert on the world, or the people who live in it.
I sometimes cringe when I see people like me who work on TV or radio saying they had a tough upbringing, that 'rags to riches' story that's been pretty exhausted whether its true or somewhat fabricated. I've had a good upbringing, tough certainly when I was in my pre-teens, but I am eternally grateful to my Mum and step Dad for being there, always.
My parents are pretty clued-in, something I think I refused to accept when I was 16. Parents are never ever cool when your 15 or 16, so don't worry you're not alone in thinking so too! Writing this now, I'm going through a tough time. I've lost indefinitely the person I've spent a solid chunk of my adult life with. It hurts, very badly at times and I struggle to see the light on occasion. But I'm dealing with it in the best way I know how, talking about it.
When you're feeling low, depressed, angry or confused, in my humble opinion, there are generally two types of people. Those who like to be alone and those who like to surround themselves with mates/boyfriends/girlfriends/parents. I'm the latter. When something crappy happens I NEED to be around the people who are closest, talk/bitch/cry about whatever is getting me down and although it may not feel like the problem is being completely solved right now, when you pick yourself up you'll realise it's instrumental.
Looking after your mental health is as important as eating right and looking after your body. It seems cliche at times to say so but it's so important. I'll even go ahead and endorse some generic yoghurt product and say feeling good on the inside will make you look good on the outside. When I'm on a high inside, I actually look in the mirror sometimes and say "why the hell would anyone not want me!?". That sounds incredibly cocky and it is. But if it makes you feel great, do it! Just maybe not on a crowded bus or train, you may get a few confused faces looking at you!
Exercise. Just like keeping your mind healthy keeps you looking good, I find it's the same vice versa effect. I'm guilty of not being active enough at times with work commitments, but when I do I feel great. Try join a gym, even if you're not a sporty type person plus you never know what hot guy or girl you'll find in your local!
If you don't join a gym (they can be expensive) set some weekly goals for yourself like going for a run or doing some sit-ups in your bedroom before you go to school or college, that kind of thing. It will set you up for the day, mentally and physically. Again I'm starting to sound like a walking pharmaceutical marketing tag-line but it's true and it bloody works!
Whether you're 13 or 33, you'll sometimes feel alone and confused. It's completely normal and will happen to us all at some stage of our lives. Right now you may be struggling with your identity, sexuality or loneliness. I've ticked all three boxes, sometimes all at the same time. But I've overcome the obstacles and you will too, you just need to keep those who love you close and lose those who bring you down. It's not always easy but you'll realise very quickly who your true friends are.
It's okay to be down, it's okay to feel lonely, it's okay to be gay, bi, straight, transgender. It's okay to ask for help and advice, it's not a weakness rather a sign of strength. This isn't just a mantra for World Mental Health Day, it's for the other 364 days too.