I have been inspired to write this post by Yasmin@ twentyonepress. Please check out her post 'World Mental Health Day' by clicking here
1 in 3 people are affected by cancer at some point in their lives and thanks to awareness and research 50% more people are surviving. And yet 1 in 4 people suffer from some kind of mental illness, a disease that destroys well being and can be fatal, and it is surrounded in stigma and misunderstandings.
I'm not talking down the destruction cancer causes, it is a horrible disease and the work done by fabulous charities such as Cancer Research and Macmillan should not be halted. What I can't understand is why mental illness is almost forgotten about.
So here's the 3 things I want to tell everyone about mental illness. It is a bit personal but I don't mind being open about it, it is better to talk about it so people understand, if we stay quiet nothing will change.
1) Anxiety and Depression- what do they do?
I was diagnosed with anxiety and minor depression last February. What that means is that I often have panic attacks that can be started by anything, it feels like my brain is shutting down, I can't think, I can't speak and I can't explain whats wrong. The only thing I can do is run away and cry- that's the anxiety bit. Once I calm down I feel exhausted and scared to try and do what set off the panic attack, I often don't want to talk about it or just want to sleep. When this happens a lot I become too tired to function properly but because of the adrenaline produced from my panic attacks I am constantly alarmed, even when sleeping I only sleep very lightly because my brain is on such high alert. As a result I lose my appetite, my interests and my ability to socialise. This is the depression part, when I reach this stage I will often lie on my bed barley able to move and only able to day dream. My day dreams can often lead me into panic attacks without anything happening. I will day dream to the point where this world is no longer real to me which means I wonder round through the days but I don't really know whats going on because I have lost touch with reality.
For a brilliant explanation of this watch the Ted Talk from ruby wax.
It is important the people understand that depression is not just a matter of not feeling great one day, it is about your brain's chemical make up that can cause all sorts of problems when it is not properly balanced.
You can't just perk up, we want to and we try but we find it impossible.
2)There is no magic pill!
There are a number of different drugs on the market that help those who suffer from mental illness. They all have different strengths and ways of affecting you, however there is no magic pill!
Those with a mental illness will still have good days and bad days no matter what drugs they are taking. They just assist in dealing with the condition, we still have numerous coping mechanisms and are trying to be self aware so we know when we need to take care of ourselves.
My coping mechanisms include running which allows me to let my thoughts run wild without paying to much attention to them, it also helps lessen the adrenaline spike. I also try to be social and very honest with myself and those around me as it keeps me in touch with reality.
This video is quite long but this guy is doing research into beating depression without drugs.
3) We do have good days
I find that one of the worst parts is the sense of guilt you get on a good day. When you tell people you have anxiety or depression they expect you to be in a bad mood and on edge all the time. However we have good days, for example since I finished my A-levels the amount of panic attacks I have had have dropped, I still have the odd bad day but most of the time I am happy and positive. However, to people who don't understand, your good day can make it appear like you are just exaggerating your condition and you are actually fine. Of course you don't have any scans or definitive results to say that you are ill, hence you are left with a sense of shame and guilt.
We also feel guilty because we know that life could be much harder but we still can't always deal with the lives we do lead.
The good news...
Times are changing and opinions of mental illness are moving forward, for example The Lib Dems came out this week promising to cut waiting times for those seeing mental health treatment to the same wait as treatment for cancer patients on the NHS.
There are also some amazing charities who are raising awareness and providing support. If you need advice on mental illness charities such as:
Despite all this more can be done, raising awareness in the general public needs to be made a priority so that we can drop the stigma and work together to improve treatment and support.
Thank you for reading and spread the word!
Have a beautiful day