Blog: Mental Health Awareness Week: A personal story
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, a member of staff and his manager talk to us about their experience of mental health.
Suffering with mental health is one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through, and talking about this, it is even harder. It’s so hard to be open about your feelings when people just belittle you and brush it off just because they haven’t experienced it.
Every day I constantly tell myself that I don’t matter and constantly battle with the hell inside my head. I feel like sometimes all I can do is lie in bed, and hope to fall asleep before I fall apart. It’s taken me a while to accept that mental health is a part of me and it’s what makes me the person I am today. My anxiety was always one of my biggest setbacks, it stopped me doing a lot throughout my life. I’ve chosen to speak out because I want to help get rid of the stigma that people have over mental health; a lot of young males don’t reach out for help because they believe it’s a sign of weakness.
I am good for a while – I’ll talk more, laugh more, sleep and eat normally, but then something happens like a switch turns off somewhere and all I am left with is the darkness of my mind.
But each time it seems like I sink deeper and deeper and it’s scary. I’m terrified that one day I won’t make it back up. I feel like I am gasping for air, screaming for help but everyone just looks at me with confused faces, wondering what I am struggling over when they’re all doing just fine and it makes me feel crazy. It’s like sitting in a room surrounded by a ton of people that you know well and love. People who know you and support and worry for you, but you still feel overwhelmingly alone. It’s like having everyone tell you they love you and how much they appreciate you but still feel like they don’t care. It’s like a silent torture.
I think people just think they can spot someone with depression; that they would be the sad person sat in the corner with a grey cloud on their head, but even now people don’t realise how much I suffer. I try to keep this fake smile on my face just so people don’t ask me what’s wrong (mainly because I find it so hard to explain what thoughts are running through my head). I always try to make everyone smile and have a laugh with people, just so people don’t have to go through the same pain that I go through.
I worked in a place before this where mental health was frowned upon, that the lads in work would just call you a skiver when you physically couldn’t pull yourself out of bed because you had no sleep the night before because of all the thoughts in your head kept you up all night.
The tiniest complaint from a customer could set me off any minute, it was so hard and tiring to keep up this fake personality so the people in work wouldn’t knock you down lower than you were before. Eventually it led to me having 2 weeks off work and to work on myself as a person. I opened up to my doctor who prescribed me some antidepressants and referred me to counselling. Although these both helped me I feel like being open to my family and friends is what helped me through every day. Being more open and trusting with people and talking about my feelings has helped me out so much that now I’ve reduced my medication and am managing well. I think since starting at the council having a team that supports mental health and that are so easy and open to talk to also helps so much, we all support each other, and I feel like I don’t have to put on that fake smile at all.
I think it’s so important to just ask people in the team if they’re okay because, just by asking that one question, it can change their mood and being open and honest to that question can change your whole life.
Be kind. Always
He lit up the room during his interview – he was confident and showed a real passion
for his work. I had no doubt that I wanted him to be part of our team. I would never
have guessed that he struggles every day, and I’m sure that I would still be unaware
if he hadn’t been really open with me from the start.
That’s the point really, to quote a well-known phrase, ‘Everyone is fighting a battle
that you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.’
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each
year. That’s a lot of people and it’s very likely that you know someone who is
I wasn’t shocked when he told me, I simply listened. In my opinion, it’s not something
that people should feel that they need to hide. The more open we are, the more
aware everyone will be, which surely can only be a good thing.
Whenever he’s having a bad day I listen, try to understand and make sure that I’m
mindful of the work he’s been tasked with. I know that this makes it a little easier for
him to come into work every day, which he does without fail.
He’s really thriving and I’m so proud that he’s part of my team.
Help and advice
To find out what mental health support is available in Shropshire click here