This year, for Time To Talk Day I’ll be celebrating my Mum’s Birthday so I’ve had to reject all of the event invitations for the day and decided instead to schedule this post in advance so that I can really dedicate my day to my Mum!
Note: For 2020’s Time To Talk Day, Time To Change have chosen to base the theme around the popular game; ‘Would You Rather?’ so this blog post will be in keeping with that…
Would You Rather is a bit of a controversial topic in mental health I think because a lot of people are very – and rightly so – defensive of their actions and decisions where mental health is concerned and particularly where self-harm is involved. I guess that a lot of that comes from the feeling that self-harm isn’t very often a ‘decision’ because it can sound as though a person is choosing to self-harm rather than feeling that it isn’t an option. Of course, if it were, then they wouldn’t choose self-harm and all of the negative consequences that come from it! Another reasoning for some finding the idea of mental health being a choice is the thought of what has led them to be struggling the way that they are. For me, if I could have made any decisions around the trauma, I went through which triggered my ill mental health, then I would have most definitely opted to have not experienced any of it! Or would I?! And here’s where Would You Rather comes in!
Would You Rather… go through years of hardship to be where you are today or have had several ‘easy’ years and be a completely different person?
Maybe a person’s answer will depend on what stage they’re at in their mental health recovery and whether they’re ‘happy’ with where they are – and who they are – in their life. I mean, if you asked me this question a few years ago when the scars on my arms were more prominent, my medication doses were at the maximum, and I was spending half my life in hospitals; I probably would have opted for the latter. Now though?
Even with my keloid scaring and occasional ‘difficult’ (an understatement sometimes) moments, I’m actually thankful for all that I’ve been through! That might sound strange from the outside looking into a world of abuse, suicide attempts, self-harm, and hallucinations, but I have a lot of amazing things that I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for all of these horrific other things! I have my pets, my home, my friends, an incredible relationship with my Mum, this blog and all of the wonderful opportunities that have come from its popularity, and a much stronger and more resilient confidence and determination. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through with my ill mental health and I quite like the person I’ve become; I no longer hate my own body because I’ve learnt to appreciate all that it has done for me when I’ve tried to destroy it. I respect and appreciate people a lot more from when I used to be rude and obnoxious towards those who only showed care and support for me, because I’ve learnt what life would be like without those people. I’m dedicated and passionate in all that I do with my blog and voluntary work with LEAPS and St Oswald’s Hospice because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be complacent and to have little to no drive to do anything with your life.
Would You Rather… keep quiet about your mental health and avoid being judged, or be open about things and risk battling the stigma that some people may hold?
For three years, when my mental health first deteriorated, I hid my struggles with the hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm, from my friends and family. It was almost like that thing about going from zero to a hundred – I went from not telling a soul, to putting up a post on Facebook for all to see! I received such a good, heartwarming, and reassuring response from everyone that the thought of starting a blog for a wider audience to read about my mental health didn’t seem like a huge leap!
Then the readers built up, and as completely happy and proud I am of the popularity; it is really daunting to think about it when I’m typing up a blog post. To imagine all of the people who will read the words I write from my little one-bedroom bungalow… it’s isn’t about mental health; with the possibility of it banishing the stigma around the subject being probably the greatest one. I’m a firm believer in education being the answer for those ignorant people who hold such discriminatory views because to hold these views just shows that they must know nothing about the subject.