September 18, 2012

Daisy, a Time to Change bloggerI had tried to broach the subject of my mental health issues, specifically major depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder, once or twice with my closest friend. The nearest I came was mentioning that I was taking part in talking therapy to deal with stress. I remember her nodding, agreeing that she too suffered from stress over college examinations and that was the end of the matter. I had gone into the discussion sure of what I wanted to say but, when the moment arrived, my confidence faltered.

The next time I spoke to her about my mental health was from a phone in an acute psychiatric ward, following a breakdown during my first weeks at university. Though my mind is a haze, I remember hysterically crying, apologising for burdening her with the knowledge that I was in hospital and the enormous guilt I felt for revealing my dark secret. The conversation didn't last long. I imagine I was unintelligible.

She was taken aback by my situation, unaware that I had been suffering for the past four years

Two days later, she rang the hospital and we spent what felt like forever on the phone. First discussing my situation and my mental health history but the best part of the conversation was the support and love she conveyed to me in the time that I needed it most. After that, we spoke every other day and she eventually encouraged me to talk to my other best friend about my problems. She was taken aback by my situation, unaware that I had been suffering for the past four years. She too, was more supportive than I could have dreamed.

After leaving hospital, and after further recuperation at home, they visited me. I felt that my health had once again become taboo, my friends were unsure whether the subject was off limits. But over the following months, as I became more open and began to finally answer the question 'how have you been doing?' truthfully, the subject suddenly became normalised and I felt the immense pressure to hide this part of myself, lifted.

Being open and honest with them has changed my life

I have now realised that had I previously confided in my friends, they would have supported me and been just as compassionate. I should have had more faith in two such wonderful people and known that they would not have turned me away. Being open and honest with them has changed my life and I am forever grateful to them.

I would advise anyone who is suffering from mental health problems to confide in those close to them - as frightening a prospect as it seems, the benefits greatly outweigh any drawbacks. I would also encourage anyone who thinks they know someone suffering from mental ill health, to reach out to them and offer your support. The perceived stigma and fear can hold someone back from revealing that they are suffering. You could do the greatest thing for them, simply by lending them an ear.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog? Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or pledge to share your experience of mental health today and find out how talking tackles discrimination.


Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

I took an interruption

I took an interruption because of my depression, although I stayed around university. My housemates were incredibly supportive, but they've now graduated and left. It's been a very difficult few years, even more so since I came forward and actually tried to get help. I've gone on and off medication, and my mood slips lower and lower. I have close friends from my part time job that I thought would be best to confess my issues to. They don't seem to understand, and chide me to "just cheer up" and moan that I'm being too 'down'. I don't feel comfortable seeking advice from them now and I'm worried about how to cope with this year without someone there to turn to.

I commend Daisy's bravery and

I commend Daisy's bravery and I am so happy that she found somebody who understood. The people I was at university with were not so understanding. It's important to make it clear that I don't blame them. I was a mess, they were only 18, I can't imagine how I can have expected them to take on my emotional baggage, but I was in my first year of uni, away from all my friends, my family, the first person I ever loved had just dumped me, and I was completely and utterly alone. It would have been so nice to have somebody reach out like that. In my second year I realised I had a reputation at my halls of residence as a complete nut-case. So I was alone AND ridiculed. I agree that people should try to talk about their experiences, but unfortunately, stigma does exist and you have to be careful who you share with, unless you want to be avoided by pretty much everyone.

Disclosing mental health conditions to friends

All I can is that Daisy is incredibly fortunate to have such understanding and supportive friends. Sadly, too many 'friends' that I have told about my m/h issues have either used it to oust me from their lives, to pretend it isn't an ongoing problem, or to ridicule me for how I am. Apologies if I come across as somewhat bitter, but that's how it is for me - and many others, I imagine. Nowadays, it's easier to not even tell anyone about my illness.

Mental Health.

Well done Daisy your an inspiration to other young suffers of this hardly talked about illness. Good luck in the future. Nicholas Sullivan.

What did you think of this blog? Tell us in the comments