10 October 2016

For the majority of the world, today will be no different. People will wake up like normal, have a cuppa with some toast and head off to work. Some will take their kids to school, run errands or go and visit relatives. Others will snuggle back under the covers or kick their feet up and chill on the sofa watching the telly. However, most will be completely oblivious to all of the pain and heartache surrounding them. Pain that is invisible to the naked eye but by no means less serious or real.

A day to talk, reach out, share and support. #WorldMentalHealthDay
Living with a mental illness changes you. For a lot of people, it will feel like part of their soul has evaporated slowly over time, that a part of their personality that was the very essence of who they were upped and left without giving any notice. It's hard. It's really, really hard. Each day becomes more about surviving, existing and struggling to stay above water and less about living, laughing and having fun. The grey skies get greyer, the clouds get bigger, the rain is louder and the wind is stronger. And if that wasn't enough, all of this happening inside your head where nobody can see how much you're fighting to breathe.

Mental illness has no preferences, no boxes that need to be ticked, you don't have to apply to take part in the race and it won't let you know that it's on the way. It is a silent killer that claims lives of all ages, genders, races and religions. Thoughts of suicide are often involved, and in the worst cases, those thoughts turn to action. Feelings of despair, loneliness and isolation can be overwhelming and the will to live dissipates with the passing of the seasons. You can be high functioning or low functioning, rich or poor. Mental illness can affect anyone.

One thing I would urge you to remember if you suffer from mental health problems is this; you are not alone. Whatever your brain is telling you, whatever twisted tale it's trying to convince you is true, know that it is a liar. You are not worthless, you are not undeserving of love, comfort, warmth or care. You do deserve help and support, you will get better, the storm that's raging inside will calm down, the waters will subside, you will be okay.

If you feel like something in your life has changed and you've noticed a difference, talk to someone. Reach out. Don't let the monster in your mind stop you from seeking help. I understand that this is so much easier to say than it is to do. But you've got to trust me because I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt and worn it a thousand times. People won't run away from you if you open up, they'll come running to help you, to take your hand when you're about to fall. There are organisations that exist whose sole purpose is to be there for you when you feel you've got no-one else. The Samaritans, Mind, Rethink and Time To Change are just a small example of the services out there designed to help you and look after your mental well being.

So today, in the midst of all of the things you would be doing on a regular Monday, take the time to think about yourself, the people in your life or even strangers in the street. Talk to that friend you've been meaning to message for weeks but just haven't got round to it. Say hello and ask your new colleague in work if they're okay. Make your grandparents a cup of tea and have a chat. Talking about how you feel is not a sign of weakness or vulnerability. It's the first step on the road to recovery, a way out of the well of sadness we can all too easily fall down when we least expect it. Admitting that you're struggling takes a lot of courage and bravery and you should never be afraid to recognise when there's a problem.

Reach out. Keep talking. Share this message and think about everyone affected by mental illness today.

You are not alone.
You will get better.
Recovery is possible. Hope exists.

We'd love to know...
If you or someone you know suffers from a mental health condition.
We're here to talk and support.
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Written by Rich Taylor
for Daily Focal

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