Amber, May 1, 2019

“I think it’s important to be listened to, and if people don’t understand what you need or why you need it, they should still respect your wishes”

I’ve suffered with depression for 16 years. The one main thing that triggered it was bullying, but my life has been a story of events and now I believe it’s my time to start talking out and supporting those around me.

I understand that depression, anxiety and other mental health diagnoses can be extremely difficult to talk about. Many people over the years, including friends and family members, haven’t understood when I’ve spoken about my mental health. I’ve had things like “But you’re always so happy!”, because I’m extremely good at plastering on a fake smile, the façade of “If I act ok, no one will know any different”.

Now I don’t want people to know different; but even still I have so-called “friends” make comments on social media about my mental health.

I have recently been through a situation where my anxiety and depression were triggered to the point where I just wanted to be in my house and keep myself and my three boys safe. I didn’t want to go anywhere or socialise. My friends came up asking me to go to theirs, and I told them no. I explained I just wanted my space, my security of being behind my own door. I felt safe enough to be able to tell them this information.

But later I saw on social media that they had posted some statuses – how they were going to lock themselves away from everyone, and that having mental health problems doesn’t affect you from being with friends.

This made me feel worse and I felt let down and misunderstood.

I wanted my friends to respect my decisions on how I deal with my own mental health. I appreciated that they offered to spend time with me, but I didn’t want to feel forced out of my comfort zone when I needed to be safe and secure. I know how to help myself, and what I need to do.

I think it’s important to be listened to, and if people don’t understand what you need or why you need it, they should still respect your wishes.

My experience hasn’t stopped me from wanting to help or support others. A person’s actions only show their true colours, not our own. I want to make a difference, both to help those around me that want to be heard, and also those that may not understand the impact their words have on others.

I’m so happy to be able to help others, and by sharing my own feelings I’ve recently been able to support a close friend who has been going through grief after a loss.

I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, but I definitely don’t want people thinking that it’s ok to undermine my feelings for their own selfishness. Mental health is so important, and should always be taken seriously.

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.