Just because you cannot see the demons that a lot of people face day in and day out, it doesn’t mean they are not there. More so, that you can forget they exist in the first place.
Mental health struggles have dominated my twenty-three years on this planet. They’ve shaped, tested and provided an insight into the importance of talking about things. However, I’m not naïve and I do know that the idea of talking about things, it much easier than grabbing the bull by the horns. It’s not that easy to talk about it.
For years, I bottled up my father's own mental health struggle. I bottled up his very own decision to take his own life when I was merely an 11-year-old child. I didn’t understand. I had questions, anger but most of all I was missing the man that was supposedly meant to be there by my side. His demons killed him and for a long time, I forgot he even existed. It was easier that way and if anything, it saved a lot of ‘awkward’, ‘judgmental’ and ‘pity’ conversations from kids in school.
It wasn’t until I headed to university that I realised the real importance of talking about things. I found myself in the biggest rut. I refused to leave my dorm room, I was behaving erratically and I was completely not myself. I’d moved miles away from my support system, I nearly lost my mum through illness and I lost the only man that loved me enough to fill the shoes in which my father was no longer here too.
I lost myself for a long while, eventually breaking down in the realisation I was headed on the same slippery journey that my father had taken years before me. I was anxious in the fact I was becoming the very man that had buckled under the pressure of his own mental demons. I was scared that I was becoming the very man that I’d promised myself I wouldn’t be.
Being depressed is one thing; admitting that life is choking you is another. It took me so long to actually come to terms with the fact I needed someone to talk to. It wasn’t really ‘help’, it was just letting out all the things I’d bottled up for so long.
Mental health struggles have dominated my life. My father's actions will always be in the back of my head, they’ll be a shadow on my future wedding day, they’ll be that nook at Christmas dinner every year until my body gives up on me.
One day, my body will give up on me. Unlike my Dad, my mind won’t. For I know there’s help when it’s needed, there are people out there that love and care for me. Unlike him, I will never face my demons on my own.
Talking and opening up about things could have saved him and it could save you too.
Mental health struggles will continue to be silent, continue to be unrecognised and continue to be stigmatised in this world, if we don’t talk openly about it.
We will continue to lose our fighters if we don’t have a good old natter about them.
So let’s talk about mental health, shout it from the rooftops if you really need to.