The 1st February is officially Time To Talk Day – a day encouraging people to talk about mental health and increasing the awareness of it and trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Mental health is named all wrong, I think. Mental health is simply a part of your health. No different to physical health. There are things you can do to improve and maintain your physical health (exercise, healthy eating) and also things you might do to support your mental health. And just like physical health, all the healthy eating and exercise in the world won’t stop you facing mental health issues.
The difference is that although we talk about physical health in the case of good or bad, we all agree that we have physical health. And yet when we discuss mental health we only discuss it if we have are struggling. ‘Mental health’ carries a whole weight with it, if someone has ‘mental health’ then immediately we’re thinking and wondering what’s wrong. ‘Physical health’ doesn’t carry the same misconceptions and burdens as the phrase ‘mental health’.
The truth is, whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we all have mental health. And, quite honestly, mental health is simply ‘health’. It all adds up to the big picture. At least, that is how I see it.
It’s really easy to be stubborn to mental health, there’s the odd bad days and passing feelings. And then there’s not looking at it in the face, not admitting the monster niggling at the back of your mind, because, ‘you’re fine’ and you don’t want to be ‘crazy’. Because you’re stronger than that, better than that. I’ll feel alright tomorrow. But suddenly there’s been a weeks worth, a months worth of tomorrows and when was the last time you felt ‘normal’?
In the same way that you go to the doctors when your physical health takes a turn, it’s important to recognise when mental health needs help too. And, in all honesty, you’re the only one who knows deep down how you feel and what you’re hiding beneath the busyness of your life.
To everyone going through a difficult time with mental health issues at the moment, I think you’re awesome. Because you’re still here and you’re still fighting. And sometimes that’s just getting up in the morning, and that’s perfectly OK. Finding someone you trust to share your journey with, and getting professional help when you need it is so important, but a massive step. And if you’ve done that, that’s something to be hugely proud of yourself for – the bravery of admitting you’re not OK takes all the courage in the world. And wanting to change that when you’re at your lowest? That’s reason enough to show you are strong enough to come out the other side.