April 2, 2012

Photo of Amanda | Time to Change blogger"I’m alone", "It would be better if I was dead then I won’t be a burden”, “People won’t believe me if I say I’m depressed, that my smile is fake”. To a depression sufferer like Frankie Sanford these comments are on a constant torturous loop.

Recently the singer broke her silence on her secret depression. Speaking to Glamour magazine she truly depicts her battle with the illness, extending to hospitalization in October last year. We all may think that pop stars have the ideal lifestyle but anyone can be struck by depression, anxiety and stress as the article expresses her darkest emotions and thoughts of depression that crippled her everyday life.

Frankie’s story highlights the importance of speaking up about mental illnesses. That everyone has mental health and to struggle with depressive thoughts on your own can just make life extremely difficult. Why should people feel ashamed of an illness? Would it be the same for a broken bone? Or for diabetes? People should be respected for who they are with or without an illness. What I found most harrowing about the article was the intrusion of the British press to leak the story in breach of the privacy of Frankie. She, like many other sufferers should be encouraged to speak openly about their struggles if and when they are ready not when they pressurised to do so.

Her openness about how “debilitating” the illness became makes for poignant reading. How she became so unhappy that she would retreat back to bed as she couldn’t face living. People with depression are characterised by low mood, suicidal thoughts, negative self-image and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. With these symptoms it is understandable how life becomes unbearable. Therefore it is crucial for sufferers to receive help as quickly as possible before the isolation and symptoms increase severely. Frankie is lucky she sought help for depression but even this was staggered, as she reveals her battle began at just 15. If we promote awareness of mental health and the message that it is ok to talk openly about mental health then the likelihood of people seeking help sooner will increase.

The “Time to change” campaign, run by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind, promotes the need for the public to change perceptions and reactions to mental illnesses. I think Frankie’s depression emphasises the fact that we are all human as she says “I try not to put pressure on myself – it’s unrealistic, no one is 100% happy all of the time.” Here she acknowledges that it is ok not to be ok to be comfortable in what you feel despite the depression telling you otherwise. Also there shouldn’t be shame or doubt in saying “I suffer from a mental illness” as it shouldn’t be an awkward subject that needs to be avoided like the plague. To ultimately realise that mental illnesses are as common as physical illnesses.


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