Over the past week I have done alot of thinking about mental health and why I think that there is such a stigma surrounding the subject. As children we are all taught there is a way that things are done, we are taught the basics of how to function in society like walking, talking and eating etc. We are conditioned to believe there is a right way of doing things, you go to school, get good marks and then go to Uni. You pass Uni, go travelling and meet the man/woman of your dreams and make amazing plans for your life. You come home to your dream job, a long promising career and then buy your first home. You get engaged and plan your dream wedding, go on a once in a lifetime trip for your honeymoon and come home to find out you’re expecting your first child. The first of three wonderfully perfect children, who grow up to become wonderfully perfect versions of yourself, doing all the things in life that you did (if not better) and then you grow old gracefully with your life long partner and die peacefully in your happy place. The end.
Two words….. FUCK OFF!!!
It’s no wonder we all have this warped view over mental health if we are aspiring to be this concocted version of Stepford lifestyle. This is the reason why people are constantly questioning themselves, why people are always subconsciously in competition with each other. Surely we are not hoodwinked by this? Surely not. Why is this version of perfection sold to us as children, not just by our parents (who are not entirely to blame as they probably had it fed to them) but by society? It continues on throughout our lives, through Instagram and Facebook etc. Who’s opinion of perfection is this anyway? It’s certainly not mine. I was a little naughty in school and not a straight A* student kind of girl, I most definitely didn’t get the grades to go to Uni and there was no way they would of accepted me at the time due to the fact I was pregnant!! That’s right I was a pregnant teenager and get this… I was an UNMARRIED pregnant teenager!! Shock horror!! As if this wasn’t a stressful enough time for me as it was I had to put up with the judgments of others who thought they were so much better than me, thinking that their one way ticket into a university made them so fucking superior to me. Whilst they partied and went on group holidays, I went from one crap job to the next just to get by with my son and in my disastrous relationship I clung on to the thought that if I stayed in this relationship, everything would be ok. Now this is not aimed at anyone in particular by any means, and I am the kind of person that thinks if you ever get the chance in life to travel, party and go off to uni then you should take the chance, grab it with both hands. However if that chance never comes your way, or it’s not in the correct ‘order’ that society deems correct then that’s ok too.
After having my son when I was just a baby myself, in a tragic relationship I suffered from post natal depression. Which thankfully, even though I was young I recognised quickly and managed to pull away from but not before it had spiraled into actual depression. Now people assume depression is something that you only suffer with if you’re sat alone in your house, rocking in the corner crying with the curtains closed. This is the very reason why people no nothing about mental health, because people have the totally wrong impression of depression. Depression is the guy at work who makes jokes and gets everyone laughing, the guy who is everyone’s best bud but goes home alone to an empty house and is desperately lonely. Depression is the single Mother with 3 kids, a full time job and is on the PTA. She is always smiling in the playground and on the school run, you always applaud her for her beautiful make up “How do you find the time?”. However when the kids are fast asleep she cries into large glass of red wine, because she has been so mentally trodden on that she believes no one will ever love her again, because who wants to raise another man’s kids anyway?? This is what depression is. It’s just as likely to be your friend as it is someone crying on their knees, alone in the dark. Society is far too busy teaching us how we are expected to be living our lives and what we should be aspiring to be, rather than considering that we might be happy with the way we are or unhappy for that matter. That we may need a little help, instead of alot of judgement. I am so sure that this kind of prejudgment about right and wrong way to live is why racism still exists, why homophobia still exists. It is because we are trying to live someone else’ version of perfect.
People have mental health problems, some develop and some are born with it. Some are milder than others and some completely destroy a person, but I truly believe that if we as a society weren’t so caught up in the ‘perfect version’ of how life goes we would see that really there is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s the reason people don’t talk about it, because people with it are afraid of being judged and people without are far to quick to judge. We are all subconsciously trying to live up to these unachievable heights. Now I am not saying that everyone is closed minded and I know that I am probably going to get some backlash from this post but in my experience with my own mental health and my sons mental health, most people just cannot talk about it. We should not be hiding away from talking about it because we either think it’s bullshit, or because we simply just don’t know what to say. If you have a friend or family member with any kind of mental health issue ask them how they are. Ask them to try to explain how they feel, because it’s ok for you to not instinctively understand. It’s NOT ok however for you to not even try to. I feel like I am in a good place now mentally, I still suffer with crippling anxiety but other than that I am all good and I’m proud of myself. I am however constantly battling for the rights of my son and his mental health, he is Autistic and people are just as unwilling to talk about that as any other mental health issue. If you don’t get it, just ask me. I will gladly try to explain the best way I know how so that you can understand a little better, so that step by step and day by day the world becomes a more tolerant place for everybody to live in.
Lots of things throughout my life have added to the depression I carried around for a long time, I am now in such a good place and somehow I fought my way out of it but I know it’s not always that simple. I hate the thought of people having the added pressure of people judging their lives because I’ve been there and I know exactly how that feels, it’s pressure that is simply not needed. So please just stop it. If you have ever thought for one minute that it’s “all in their head”, please just stop. Take a minute to think that the mind is a closed door and you never know what goes on behind closed doors, and you will never know how hard it is to open that door to someone when your mind is pushing it tight shut. Depression, post natal, PTSD, autism, schizophrenia and every other mental health condition is real. Just ask. If you are suffering from some form of mental health condition please know that you are not alone and even though it may seem like there is nothing you can do to help yourself, someone somewhere wants to help you. Just ask.
Mental health is just as valid as cancer. Stop sweeping under the rug, and stop trying to achieve someone elses ‘perfect’.
Natalie Abraham AKA Mostly Mummy