Mental Health & Stigma

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The fact that you exist at all is nearly inconceivable. I mean that in the most beautiful sense; the moment before your conception, millions upon millions of male gametes fought to fuse with the complimentary female egg. Of course, as we all know, only one (at best) can succeed. That was you.

That alone makes you special

I suppose the reason I started with this is because the 10th of October was World Mental Health Day. I remember this day so well because it was this time last year that I was at my absolute worst. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was either utterly numb to the world or sobbing into my pillow. I can’t remember which was worse.

I want to apologise for ‘oversharing’ the fact that I’ve suffered from depression – but then I remember how this only supports the stigma against mental health. That’s the buzzword we’ve all heard so many times. Stigma, stigma, stigma. It’s easy to say. It’s not so easy to actually practice this particular preach.

Stigma, stigma, stigma. It’s easy to say. It’s not so easy to actually practice this particular preach

Don’t believe me?

Imagine telling your friend you have tonsillitis and having to take antibiotics for it. Easy enough, right? Now imagine informing your college friends that the reason you’re leaving class early is so that you can attend counselling for your worsening depression. That the medication you take religiously at midday is an anti-depressant to alleviate the crushing weight that mental health brings.

Not so easy

That’s what stigma is. It feels like a stain on your perfect canvas. It’s why you try so hard to deny what’s happening to you. To pretend that the marks on your arm aren’t indicative of what’s happening to you. We do this because we can’t bear the thought of what our parents might say – what if they don’t believe us? We don’t want our friends to pull back, for the people in our lives to judge us. We don’t want to be called mopey or melodramatic. Or worst of all – weak.

I feel like I had to share my own struggles for two reasons. The first is because we need to normalise mental health struggles. Depression shouldn’t be a word we whisper. Anti-depressants shouldn’t be something we hide behind our college books. We shouldn’t suffer in silence. We can’t anymore. It’ll kill us. Just like bacteria does. The second reason I displayed candour is simple. I have felt the pain that so many of you reading this have too. And I wanted you to know that it gets better.

It always gets better

I remember attending my first therapy session ever and when asked why I was there, I told the psychiatrist “I feel like I’m being crushed by my thoughts. Like they’re all around me and suffocating me.” She told me something that I’ve never forgotten.

She told me that I was a star. She then told me that with stars, the gravity of the core can become so unfathomably strong that the outer parts crash down on the inner parts. The star then collapses. That’s when I started crying and told her that’s just how I felt.

Like a collapsing star

I started this article by telling you that your being alive is a miracle in itself. You’re also a star. You’re bright and you light up the dark, dark universe. Don’t let the thoughts consume you. Speak to your GP about medication, talk to a counsellor about how you feel. DIT offers both of these services for free.

And tell your friends and family. You don’t have to be alone. Nothing hurts more than feeling like nobody understands. Take off the mask.

You don’t have to be a collapsing star.

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