As someone who writes about mental health, and someone who suffers from mental illness, days like today feel both highly significant and decidedly daunting.
I like to think of myself as an advocate of positive Mental Health, and yet I feel a sense of duty rather than passion to recognise World Mental Health Day. On days like today I feel as though my voice is the smallest, most insignificant of whispers amongst a chorus of experts, professionals and people who actually have something interesting, and something new to say.
So todays challenge for me is to continue writing this blog – not regardless of the voices – but because of the voices that tell me I really shouldn’t bother. Maybe I do have nothing new, or exciting to bring to the World Mental Health table. But I do have myself: the journey that I am on; the lessons that I am learning; the small battles that I am winning; the fact that I am still standing.
I don’t have to be clever today. I don’t need to stand out from the crowd in order to be heard. I need to be a part of the crowd – of the chorus. I need to add my voice, however small, to all the other voices that are challenging and encouraging people around the world to talk about Mental Health. I need to join them, with my tuppence-worth, to work towards normalising talking about Mental Health.
I did not survive being mentally ill by staying silent about it. It takes a lot of guts to speak out, to get help and to engage in treatment. Imagine if our mental wellbeing was as common a topic as the weather, here in the UK. I wonder how many mental illnesses could be prevented or treated much sooner, if only we could all invest in our mental health and wellbeing without fear or shame.
Against all odds, I am still here and fighting strong, and that is my offering for World Mental Health Day. In a nutshell: hope. Always hope.