Like many millions of people around the globe, I suffer with a mental health condition, Depression. According to mentalhealth.org, ‘About a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain.’ It’s a problem that rears its ugly head again and again. Whilst this condition is worse than I could ever describe, it gets worse with the stigma that is attached to mental health problems. People assume you’re ‘crazy’ as soon as they hear you have a mental health condition. Look at me, I’m a normal girl, I go to university, I have a job, I have friends, I have hobbies. I’m not sat in a padded room rocking myself backwards and forwards, smashing my head against the wall. All this negativity attached to mental health is alarming, it’s like kicking someone when they’re down. I get it, if you havent experienced a certain state of mind, you won’t understand when you meet someone different to you. You probably don’t realise that they’re hiding how they real feel from you because of social stigma about depression and anxiety. You think they’re boring and unsociable because they hide in their room all day and don’t go out much, maybe there’s something wrong. Don’t make them feel bad for a condition they didn’t ask for and certainly didn’t deserve.
As upset as I am about how people with mental health conditions are treated by some, there are others who are doing wonderful things to help sufferers, and it gives me greater faith in humanity. At uni, things are stressful – I think most of us have experienced that. Things get on top of you, there’s so much to do, uni work, a part time job, socialising and many other activities, sometimes you feel like you don’t have time to breathe. With a mental health condition, this is amplified. Your mind is telling you to shut down, to hide inside, to push away your responsibilities and curl up into a ball. In life, you can’t do this and come out unscathed, and it creates a perpetual vicious cycle of depression and anxiety all over again. There are people and institutions that now recognise these stresses on people with a mental as well as physical condition. At te university I go to, they have been so helpful and I could not be more thankful. I have days where I can barely move, days where I can’t get out of bed or even leave my room. They understand that. They understand that depression and anxiety are debilitating, tiring and stressful. They approached me, talked to me, gave me advice. They treated me like any other person, they didn’t stigmatise me, they helped me.
I’m starting to ramble, but the point is no one wins when people with mental health conditions are judged and stigmatised as if it was their decision to be the way they are. Be kind, it benefits us all, no matter the state of our mental health. It shouldn’t be something to be so ashamed of.