Thursday, 4 February 2016

Time to Talk Day 2016: Why I'll Always Talk Openly About Mental Illness

It's Time to Talk day so let's do this, shall we? Let's talk.

It's been just over two years since I dropped out of university in my final semester with depression and anxiety (read my post about that here, but full disclosure: it was not a well thought-out or grammatically sophisticated piece of writing, more a highly emotional brain dump and a release).

I never really expected it to reach as far as it did; I hoped writing about my experience would help maybe one or two people, a handful maximum. Two years on, I receive several emails each week from people who are in a similar situation, asking for advice, wanting to figure out their options with me or simply in need of someone to talk to. So often in these emails, I get apologies for "bothering" me, and I always tell them the same thing: they are the reason I wrote the post in the first place. Talking to them gives me life.

To tell you the truth, though, sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud. I'm still suffering from the same illnesses I was suffering from when I dropped out of university, you know? I still have a lot of bad days and I still haven't found a way to keep my anxiety under control or force myself out of bed when I'm depressed. Leaving my studies wasn't a magic life fix, nor the solution to all of my problems. How and why should little old me be advising all these hundreds of people? Why am I the one to help them? Sure, the bad days have significantly decreased and sure, I still think it was the best decision I could have made for my health, but I'm not "recovered" or "cured", by any means. Do I have a right to be some kind of advisor?

But then I remember how desperately lonely I felt at my worst. No matter how much support a person has, suffering from depression and anxiety is so intensely isolating. You can be lonely without being alone and that is what mental illness does. People feel alienated and isolated because a stigma still exists surrounding mental illness. Nobody should ever feel like they are alone, or unsupported, or like they can't speak out about their illness.

So that's why I reply to every single email I receive. That's why I talk. That's why I'm talking now, and that's why I will continue to talk. That's why I will never shy away from blogging or tweeting about my mental illness. That's why I'm going to share this post on Facebook even though it terrifies me.

That's why I talk openly and honestly about mental illness. Thats why I talk loudly about mental illness. That's why I will never apologise for talking about mental illness.

It's #TimeToTalk: let's end the stigma.

Want to start a conversation today? Get more information about the #TimeToTalk campaign here. 

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