• Michael Mclaren

Looking Back At My Own Struggles & Mistakes On World Mental Health Day.

This is something I wanted to write that speaks of my experience with issues regarding mental health.

I still feel uncomfortable referring to it as depression.

Which is what I guess days like today are for.

Today is World Mental Health Day.

The willingness to talk about mental health so openly is certainly on the rise.

And I truly feel that it’s days like today, where its thrust into the spotlight, that are continuing in helping us to do this.

Although I’ve touched on it before, I wanted to, well, touch on it again. Especially today.

When you read that 1 in 6 people in the UK are known to have struggles with their mental health and wellbeing every week, it comes as no surprise that we all at least know of someone, who does.

That’s despite mentioning that those, more than likely, are only those who have had the willingness to come forward and talk about it.

I was, for a long time, most definitely not one of those people.

I wouldn’t say I was afraid, or nervous. More like I was in denial.

Denial about the severity of it all.

“Everybody has s**t going on”

“Some people have it worse”

Just a couple of things I heard that did nothing to make me feel like reaching out and talking about it was a good idea.

The worst part was, these weren’t even things that were directed at me. They just happened to be a part of a conversation that had nothing to do with me or my situation.

Still, they only served to encourage me to retreat even further.

I just had to offer one of those awkward half smiles you give to someone that you “sorta know” from across the street, and ultimately crack on.

And crack on I did.

The theme of today’s World Mental Health Day, is Suicide Prevention.

It wasn’t until recently that I was faced with the statistics of this.

One person every 40 seconds.

Every. 40. Seconds.

A stat which I struggled to really comprehend to begin with. I still do to an extent.

Now, I’ll be honest. I never attempted.

Which in hindsight and in a strange roundabout way, was the problem.

I certainly thought about it, and during the toughest days, thought about it a lot.

From August/September 2017, it began with just passing thoughts. Thoughts which I would swiftly put down to just having a bad day. It would pass.

Everybody has them, right?

By February the following year, I began to notice that those passing thoughts, were starting to linger.

By April 2018, it was like a real life movie playing in my head. I had completely lost all sense of who I was.

I struggle to remember a time during that period where I felt genuinely happy or content. In fact, I have no recollection of feeling particularly sad or angry at that time either.

It was a nothing-ness.

Any thoughts of anticipation or positive reflection were simply replaced with one.

That one, lingering thought that had been gradually getting more and more “real” by the week.

It effectively got to the point where all I had to do, was pick a day and a time. A fact that in

truth, was the trigger I needed to pick up the phone and call someone.

I saw the trend. I noticed it.

I was fully aware of how rapidly these thoughts had went from a very harmless “what if” scenario, to the very real and seemingly within reach sequence of events.

But, in my head anyway, until I picked that day and time, then there was nothing worth talking about.

For too long, I was of the belief that until I attempted to follow through with any of those attempts, then it couldn’t be depression.

Therefore, there was no problem that was worth seeking help for.

There was no reason to “bother” anyone with what was going on.

I’ve always been susceptible to using what other people do as a measuring stick, for my own achievements and successes.

I’ve often had real trouble with acknowledging what I achieve and taking it as its own thing.

And whilst there was certainly no element of any “success” here, it was the same old story.

Why would I even consider “bothering” anyone, when compared to what some people were going through, it was nothing.

And the reason I wanted to do a piece on this today, was that I’d be more than willing to bet that I won’t be the only one who has thought that.

The truth is, like with any success, we really must judge it on its own merit.

Like with any success, if it means something and is a big deal to you, then embrace it.

Regardless of what other people do, or think, or say around you.

And the biggest lesson I learned (another way of saying mistake), was that even across at the complete opposite end of that spectrum, when things appear bleak, that it really doesn’t matter one bit, if your issues don’t seem as distressful as what other people are experiencing.

It’s too easy to convince ourselves that because we, on the surface at least, don’t have it as bad as others and therefore are not worthy of help.

We are all worthy of being heard and being able to express ourselves without fear of judgement.

And if there is anyone reading this who feels like this, then I can only encourage you wholeheartedly, to forget about everything and everyone for a single moment.

We are all entitled to that help. We are all worthy of being heard and being able to express ourselves without fear of judgement.

There is no comparisons to ever be made.

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