THE BLOG

Being Open about Mental Illness

09/04/2015 09:18 BST | Updated 07/06/2015 10:59 BST

One thing that few people know about me at first glance is that I love playing card games. Mainly two games called Vanguard and Yugioh. Playing card games is how I spend my Fridays and Saturdays on a weekly basis.

I love the exhilaration that I get when facing someone else in a battle. To many people, they find this fact about me weird. This is mainly because it is seen as a children's card game even though there are many, if not more, adults who play it.

Now admittedly I have spent a lot of money on this hobby. It is not something that I typically tell someone on first meeting them. I only tell people who I feel that I can trust.

The interesting thing is that few people know that I have a mental illness at first glance. It is hidden within the mind and has been something that I have been dealing with for the past few years.

I have depression along with various other mental disorders. At times I feel like I can't live in this world, unable to cope with everything that is around me. Times when things feel overwhelming and bring me so much pain.

These are often times when I have to pull upon all the different coping mechanisms that I can (such as studying Vanguard techniques more). All in an attempt to make it through whatever it is that I am dealing with at that time.

There are only a few people that I can open up to about what is going on in my mind. People I can tell when I feel that I am not able to cope in this world. Those people that I can confide in.

I am scared of not being understood by people when I tell them about my Mental Illness. That people will somehow hold judgement against me for suffering from a mental Illness.

Not everyone understands what depression is. They just see it as going through a tough spot. At times, they will say that people with depression should just "snap out of it" or to "pull yourself together". They see mental illness as some sort of failing or 'phase' to be got through when it is so much more than that.

Mental illness is a serious part of someone's life that needs to be looked after and at times, needs some work to be maintained. We all need ways that help our mind unwind from all of the tension that it can be under.

I use a few things are coping mechanisms in helping me deal with my feelings of depression. When I feel I have a lot on my mind or heart, one thing that I find useful to do is 'vent'. I open up a word document and write down everything that I am thinking about or that is bothering me.

Another thing that can help is to be able to talk to someone who fully understands what it is that I am going through. Someone who can actually talk to me on the same level and not be judgemental.

When it comes to my card game playing friends, I can talk to my friends about card games as they. It becomes a community where people can join together, to enjoy a common interest.

On a recent trip away, I found it comforting to be amongst a group of people who were on my level. All these people had experience of mental illness and they knew how the internal struggle feels.

I found it easy to open up to the people there about what the current state of my mental health was. I also felt comfortable enough to share some of my past experience battling with a variety of mental illnesses.

I have learnt the great importance of understanding someone else's point of view through being a peer mental health advocate. This work is based off having a vast amount of empathy and care for a fellow human being.

A peer advocate is someone who is on the same level as you and they can sit with you, actively listening to what you have to say. They can then provide some level of support to someone in need just by being a good listener and providing an understanding ear.

I hope that this has given you an insight into the importance of having a peer advocate when you suffer from a mental illness. The help they can provide is vital in both times of recovery and of crisis.