During the first six months of this year, I was depressed and it felt like the world was crashing in on me. My friend had passed away at the prime of their life, one of my relatives was undergoing tests to see if they had cancer, both of my cats had died and I had significant academic pressure as I was in the last year of university as well as growing uncertainty about the future. This period of my life was a complete blur and it still is.
Depression does not have discriminate but does place certain limitations on you. It can suck the air out of you until you feel like you can no longer breathe. It is isolating, degrading and debilitating.
There is still a stigma surrounding depression as I have witnessed myself on several occasions. Mental health is as important as physical health. If someone had cancer, you wouldn't dismiss them so why do people dismiss mental health conditions? In fact, mental health can negatively impact physical health including increasing the risk of a heart attack, a weakened immune system and constricted blood vessels.
If you have never experienced a mental health condition yourself, you will know someone who does. As Lauren Stocks recently stated at the Labour Conference, classrooms are full of 'spaced-out, stressed-out, depressed kids', demonstrating yet again that depression has no face. In the week of World Mental Health Day, we all have a part to play in eradicating the stigma surrounding any mental health condition.
Firstly, always be kind, no matter how small the act. Unfortunately, in my last year of university, I did not live in the best conditions. The house was dark, dirty and very loud so on some nights, I had very limited sleep which, of course, negatively impacted my mental health. Any small act can help including being a listening ear to someone if they want it, providing encouragement and support. You may never know how much someone will appreciate it.
As well as being kind to others, you must always be kind to yourself. You cannot pour from an empty vessel. Try yoga, grab an early night, eat well, meditate, read for example. Try anything to find a way to support yourself. After all, you cannot be happy with someone else until you are happy with yourself.
Stop worrying. There is nothing useful, absolutely nothing useful about worrying all the damn time. I have the tendency to overthink everything and it has only hindered my progress.
Secondly, do your best to destigmatise mental health. Unfortunately, there is still a section of society that believe that showing any signs of a mental health condition is a sign of weakness. This belief is only making more people suffer in silence out of fear of getting help. If you hear anybody talk callously about mental health, make sure you call it out. Play your role in encouraging the conversation about mental health.
And to anybody who has a mental health condition, it gets better. It really does.