It’s the penultimate day of Mental Health Awareness Week and I’ll have to admit, I’ve been fairly inactive all week. Life has most certainly got in the way but I’m okay with that because it’s all part of recovery!
Today I ventured to Newry (home of my favourite coffee shop and Primark) with my parents, a rare occasion that we’re all off on the same day! We went to Buttercrane Shopping Centre and the first thing I saw was a poster in the lift about MHAW. I hadn’t really planned to write another blog post (even though I said I would #flaky) but once I saw this I had to! I thought it was so cool that a shopping centre would support mental health in this way!
Further into the mall there was a whole stand devoted to Mental Health Awareness Week, with Samaritans, PIPS and The Michaela Foundation all featuring as well as the Mental Health Foundation who came up with this year’s theme; ‘Surviving or Thriving?’
The stand was placed right in the middle of the centre so no one could miss it! I got chatting to one of the Samaritan volunteers who said they had been there since Thursday and that the response they had was pretty good. She said that today had been nonstop with people coming over which I thought was class!
I was given this really cute wee ‘Pocket of Positivity’ which had a voucher for a free drink in one of the cafes, a wee square of chocolate and a positive quote. Mine was “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” which I absolutely love!
They also had a few trees where you could hang ‘lemons’ (bit random, I know) where on one side you had written something that makes you happy and the other something that makes you sad! It’s a simple conversation starter and a really easy way to start talking about mental health.
Just a bit further down the mall PIPS had a stand where they were doing a Lego walk to raise money! Part of me was tempted to do it but there was literally so many people around I was too scundered ha! I thought it was a pretty cool way of raising awareness and money – anything to get people talking!
It showed mental health as being something positive which it very much is. It showed ways to care about yourself and ways to access support. So much focus is placed on illness and disorders (and don’t get me wrong, the focus needs to be on those to raise awareness) but we need to talk about the positive sides to mental health.
1. There is support out there. So much support – charities, groups, therapy, medication, friends and family. You are never alone in your mental health struggles and that’s something I will shout until the day I die.
2. Recovery is possible. Healing is in no way linear but recovery is possible and I am proof of that. Anyone who exists alongside their mental illness is proof of that.
3. Amazing things can come out of your struggles. It can be so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re struggling with mental health. I said to one of my friends the other day that beginning this blog was an outlet for me after I was diagnosed with depression. I never once thought I would be openly sharing with hundreds of people about it, nor did I think I would end up filming videos for churches to use across Ireland. I never thought I would become part of an incredible mental health community on Twitter who just get me.
Being open about how much I was struggling was ultimately the thing that started my recovery. And it can do the same for you.
If you’re struggling today with mental illness I urge you to tell at least one person that is supportive and you feel comfortable around. The sense of relief you’ll feel once you open up is incredible.
You will find people who are less than supportive about it; those are the kind of people you do not need in your life. If you’re one of those people who brush mental illness off as something made up or non-existent, please go and educate yourself. Don’t be like Piers Morgan.
Hold on to hope, no matter how hard it is to do that.