Next week is Mental Health Awareness week organised by Time to Change (there is a similar campaign in May run by the Mental Health Foundation). The events are being held in the University of Warwick, but the message will hopefully spread much further than Coventry.
I won’t profess to being an expert on the subject, but clearly there is a stigma caused by a general lack of under-standing and a need to encourage sufferers to display real strength in being able to open up about their personal situation – very similar to the strength it takes to try and cope in silence.
If you feel inclined to look back at my blogs from the back end of 2011, I decided to reveal the fact that I have battled with depression. Do I have an illness? Well yes, I suppose I do, but am I ill? Contrary as it may seem, my answer is no... I struggle from time to time, but with initial acceptance (and it took a long time) came the courage to talk about something very private, something which only those who knew me best would have suspected.
I didn’t and don’t want sympathy. The same applies to allowances, but there are (and maybe will always be) bad days along the way and it makes a real difference when you can concentrate on the knowledge that the feelings will pass, rather than using all your emotional strength to try and hide those feelings –tradition, stigma etc weighs heavily.
Last week, I had to spend a night in a Birmingham hotel; my last overnight stay witnessed the worst night of my life... the moment that finally broke my resolve to suffer in silence. I got through the return visit without one bad thought... it may seem trivial to many, but a ghost was laid to rest on Tuesday night and I was proud not only of myself but of those whose belief in me never wavered after I admitted exactly how I had felt.
I’m sure there will be one or two people who have read my occasional pieces on this subject and think ‘here he goes again...’ (it’s fine to click and close the page by the way), but the actual point of this blog has nothing to do with me...
If the messages that you are not alone, that there is acceptance and help strike a chord with even one reader, well therein lies the reason. It’s fine to ask for support... oh and it’s equally fine to leave a comment!
All my own work... almost.