• Katie Heyes

It’s World Mental Health Day!

Yes, I know it’s late, yes I know the day’s nearly over and only now got round to posting something – that’s Uni life for you! Nevertheless I wanted to write a quick little post highlighting some of the most important things to remember on this day First of all, I think we all underestimate just how important mental health is not just today but every day. It’s so brushed over as opposed to physical wellbeing. Nowadays it’s so commonplace to internalise every anxious thought, every insecurity, every worry and simply create this false persona by masking those issues and putting on a smiley face for fear of being judged. This is not just the case for me, I guarantee it that everybody has fallen victim to this notion at least once in their life.

Mental Health is often perceived as being insignificant; something to criticise, poke fun at or just to ignore. Last year I had that burden to carry. After internalising so much over the years, an incident last year led to all those emotions and insecurities coming to the surface – and to be quite frank it was unbearable. At the time, I was so lonely, felt that I couldn’t reach out to anyone, it felt like a dam was about to burst. But what made it worse was that no-one would ask how I was feeling, no-one reached out to me, no-one offered to take me out to cheer me up, no-one was there. So what I would resort to was trying to find my own coping mechanisms – some healthier than others.

One of the things I would resort to is to try and confide in as many people as I could, writing all the emotions down either by text or on paper and visually seeing the “send” button, soon to be followed by “sent”, would mentally trick me into believing that the issue had been dealt with, that there’s nothing to worry about, it was off my chest. However, the majority of reactions to that had been ones of disgust or ridicule as they just simply view it as a weird person who’s unstable and going off on a rant…I can say without any doubt that this one of the most insensitive reactions that you can have and only scraping the surface of what is actually going on. I’m lucky and beyond grateful that there were a few certain individuals that didn’t mind it, those who understood and were in fact relieved that I had confided in them because they were my friends – they were concerned and relieved that I wanted to talk, being aware that some of the other coping mechanisms could be much more serious.

That’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to reach out to your friends!

Even if it’s someone whom you don’t know that well, even if you’ve not spoken to them in a while, a simple good morning message, hello, phone call, facetime call could solve so many problems and even go as far as saving lives. More often than not the person on the other end will be so thankful that you were on their mind, even for a split second. That little thought of kindness can go such a long way. One instance for me, a phone call stopped me for ending it, from putting an end to all that pain and social burden I felt I was carrying and to that person I am forever in your debt! So please just reach out! Even if it’s just one word, it’s never a bad time, it’s never inconvenient just to express love.

Especially considering so many people have found it difficult to reach out. Take this week for example, despite having one of the best years of my life in fresher’s week, there were times when I was fighting an internal battle with myself and there were times when I did just want to sit and cry for a bit. The thing is sometimes that can never really be explained, it can just happen out of the blue but what’s important is how you react to it. You can be one person – the superficial arse, who sees you’re suffering but simply ignores, maybe even make a little joke about it or start labelling. Or you can be the other person – a friend. The person who will never tire of hearing your voice, no matter how mumbled your speech is under all that blubbering. The person that will never tire of seeing your face no matter how red and puffy it may be – they simply want to be there for you. A shoulder to cry on, someone to rely on but most importantly someone to listen and learn.

This past year has been so challenging for me but also so enlightening. All that betrayal, disloyalty, hardships, backlash, ridicule, physical and mental pain has honestly shaped me into a completely new person. After reaching out for help and support and despite the mental stigma I did receive, it transformed me into the more confident and self-assured person I am today. Now if that’s a bit too clichéd for your liking, think of it this way. If you have a physical wound, what would you do? You go to get help, you treat it, every day you would take some time to prioritise that in order to get better, but with mental health it’s covered by a mask. Almost everything is invisible, sometimes there are external triggers like crying or panic attacks but for the most part it’s very much an internal battle with your own thoughts and insecurities. But when you take a step back and think – the fact that you’re “battling” just shows how much of a brave and admirable person you are. NEVER EVER let anyone degrade you or think that you’re weak for struggling mentally, because trust me you are not! Everyone has their own story to tell, the more we share the more we can care!

- Katie x

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