Hi again, I want to try write as much as I can. I would like warn people who get triggered easily, as this post does contain some reference to self harm, although nothing too ‘graphic’.
So, today I want to write about honesty, as I truly believe it is one of the only ways people will grasp a better understanding and maybe even stop the stigma around mental health.
I’ve always found being honest to a group of strangers easier than with close friends and family, as well as professionals. I think I fear being judged, but when talking to people I don’t know, well it doesn’t really matter whether they judge me or not. I don’t know if that makes any sense but there you go.
I think when things started to go wrong for me I was very secretive about my health deteriorating, both my parents are GP’s and I’m still surprised by how long I kept it all a secret. I guess when dealing with problems all day, it seems that you perhaps don’t expect something to go wrong within your own family. I think I kept it hidden for a good 3 months before anyone really knew the extent of the problem, and even then it wasn’t fully grasped. I had taken my first overdose and was rushed to hospital by my father who found out through a friend of mine. I was 16 at the time, and I did not get any support professionally after my two week hospital stay, ‘curing’ my overdose. Even then I was still hiding my health. My mum only found out I was self harming 6 months after the overdose and that was a big shock to her.
Since then I’ve had lots more problems with overdosing, self harming and several admissions to both adolescent as well as adult mental health hospitals when I was simply not able to keep myself safe.
I think my family have become more accepting of my needs and difficulties. I don’t however believe that they understand. I am the middle child with an older sister and a younger brother, I don’t really have a relationship with either though, which upsets me a lot. We are all in the same age group really, two years between each, and I think my health caused a lot of friction between us.
Anyway, back on the topic of being honest, once my close family knew there was no stopping it from coming out to the rest of the family, my mum is Mauritian, and boy do my family like to gossip. I am the first to have any problems with my mental health and I think that was difficult for everyone to understand.
When I first started opening up to my friends, some were really understanding, however most did not understand, nor gave the impression they wanted to understand. Telling a severely depressed person to ‘grow up’ and ‘stop feeling sorry for yourself’ were some of the ‘nicer’ comments. Other more hurtful comments, I found, were things like ‘snap out of it’ or ‘there’s so many more people worse off than you’. That’s not even mentioning the ‘attention seeking’ comments. Telling someone who is already struggling that there are worse people than them makes them feel even worse as it makes them feel like their not meant to feel that way, and the negative cycle just gets worse and worse.
I am now, thankfully, blessed with some truly kind, warm hearted and most understanding fiends I could ever wish for, without them I am sure I would not be here today. I feel like, for the most part, being honest around them is easy as I know they will not judge me.
I still struggle being honest with professionals, especially when it comes to my feelings and thoughts.
With cuts across the NHS I believe we all really need to stick together, and help each other.