November 8, 2013

GemmaI've never really blogged about my mental health problems. In fact, I've only ever really been open and honest about my struggles to a very select few people in my life.

Growing up, I had to be careful who I would open up to about any thoughts or feelings I had as they weren't viewed as normal and usually led people to become concerned about me. And so they should have been really.

Mental health problems can often seem as though they are under control and not a big deal, I know that I would regularly want to tell people how I felt, but wouldn't out of fear of them rejecting me or, worse, worrying about me.

There is still a part of me that is concerned that people may worry about me and that is probably be the biggest reason why I am not always truly honest with them about how I am feeling. Time and again friends and family members will express their concerns to me and I will brush them off. Telling them that I am fine, I'm ok.

So many times I have put my depression into a little box while at work and claimed that I was tired or ill. Partly out of fear, I don't want my colleagues to think less of me, but also partly because I don't feel as though I deserve their concern.

My friends and teachers all took my mental health problems very seriously

This mindset stems back to when I was a teenager. It's enough of a struggle growing up, without the troubles of mental health problems. Too many times serious mental health problems, like depression, anxiety, eating disorders and the like, are put down to mere teen angst. But it's much more than that. Thankfully my friends and teachers all took my mental health problems very seriously, more seriously than I did most of the time.

I was surrounded by loving people who were desperate to help me, if only I would let them. For one reason or another, and years of therapy still haven't granted me answers to this mindset, I pushed each of them away. Claiming to be fine, they would, understandably, get frustrated at me. I didn't really know how to cope with all of the terrible things I was feeling and would reach out for help and then instantly snatch my outstretched hand back out of terror that someone might just care enough to help me.

The years went by and I lost many friends. It was never through their lack of trying or understanding. The only person who stood by me through everything, the ups and downs, the sidesteps and the rejections, was my now husband. He saw through my attempts to push him away and it only drew him closer. I still get depressed to this day, I still suffer with my anxiety and disordered thoughts will still creep into my mind from time to time. I've still not really learnt how to let people in and to care about me, I will still keep people at an arms’ length. In my head I am protecting them.

There is something that stops every one of us from accepting help

The obscure thing is that if a friend of mine were to tell me she was feeling low or as though she might harm herself, I would go above and beyond to help her. I would tell her that she deserves help and if she tells me that she doesn't want me to care then I would tell her that she will always deserve my love. There is something that stops each and every one of us from reaching out and accepting help but it should never be through feeling as though you don't deserve it. Every person deserves to recover and live a life free of mental health problems. More importantly, everyone deserves to feel loved and cared for.

Figuring my way through the battleground of depression and anxiety was hard enough by myself, I have always wished that I could be open and honest with those around me - if only to take the burden off myself for a while. It would be nice to be able to accept myself for who I am, mental health problems and all, the way I've accepted many of my friends.

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