Today is World Mental Health Day and it’s time to talk about it. Not only today, but every day. If you would break your leg or catch a cold would you think twice about going to the doctor or be hesitant to talk to your family and friends about it?
Well, a couple of years ago I broke my soul. This didn't happen over night and I am sorry, but I can't tell a story of a spectacular accident. My soul started to crumble when I was little and it continued to do so for a good few years. Until one day the pain became overwhelming and I began to struggle.
At this time, I had no idea about mental health - no idea where all this pain inside me came from. After all, I didn't fall or hurt myself. I thought it was all in my head. My pain was ‘only’ emotional pain and surely that couldn’t be real. I was afraid to talk about it, in case people thought I was weak or just making things up. For as long as I could I pretended everything was fine and for a while I even managed to fool myself.
However, I began to lose control over my emotions, myself and my entire life - the pain took over!
I couldn't see the light anymore, no reason to smile or giggle. It was like I was living under a heavy dark cloak. I stopped eating in the hope to regain some control. That worked for a while. Every time I lost another few pounds, I felt that there was still one thing I was in charge of. However, all I did was weaken my body and the pain still swept over me continuously.
You can still see the scars on my arms today from where I cut myself - the physical pain of the cut relieved the pain of my soul for a few minutes and I felt almost like before. My ten minutes of pain free normality, if you will. Hurting myself quickly became the only way I was able to cope with all those intense emotions.
I couldn't sleep, I couldn't laugh, I couldn’t love, I couldn’t enjoy, I couldn't think straight. There were moments I couldn't breathe, days I didn't make it out of bed and weeks I didn't leave the house. I didn’t live, instead I survived - barely!
If only I had known about mental health, if only I knew that this pain was real and that it is ok to talk about it. If only I had the words to share, I would have found others out there, fighting the same battles. Maybe then it wouldn't have come this far. Maybe I would have been brave enough to get the help I needed so much earlier than I eventually did.
I am healthy now - mentally and physically, but if I would have known about mental health - as I did about physical health, I could have been healthy for a long time.
Start talking about mental health today!
Start a conversation! Talk to your kids, your sisters, your brothers, your friends, your neighbours, your co-workers, your customers and clients - talk to everyone you meet - make it as normal as breaking a leg.
Talk about it!
Not only today, but every day - you might save someone from years of pain.
You might even save a life!