03 March 2016 – #imnotashamed

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24th February 2016

Hi All

March 3rd 2016 – @teamnotashamed, the New York based mental-health team are raising awareness and telling the world that they shouldn’t be ashamed of how they feel. How right they are. I came across their tweets a few months ago strongly support what they do to spread the word. Please support them (and others), use the hastag #imnotashamed.

As anyone who has experienced it knows, mental health issues are extremely complex. We cannot see them. And thus, they are broadly misunderstood. In this day and age people still strongly believe that those suffering should ‘pull themselves together’ or ‘just smile’ or worse still ‘how can you be depressed, you have a nice house, car, loving family blah blah blah…” This is part of the great cover up. Maybe it’s because we are English, and our history tell us that we should never let our feelings out. Never let our guard down. That horrible, stiff upper lip phrase.

And this, I strongly believe is where it all goes wrong.

We all have feelings of desperation at times, sadness, overwhelming disappointment. It is natural. It is human. To hide these feelings from others, and deny it’s happening perpetuates the problem. Nobody dares to tell others of how they are feeling. Because they feel strongly that no-one will understand, because no-one they know talks about it. The world around them doesn’t understand, because the world around them hides it.

It truly is time to speak out, share what happens inside you. The good and the bad. Don’t be ashamed. Tell others, because by sharing your feelings two things happen. One, you help to tell the world that it is normal to have these feelings sometimes. And by telling the world, the world becomes more open and the move to acceptance of these terrible conditions gathers pace. Two, you will feel better. I strongly believe that some of the mental illnesses I have suffered (read: anxiety, panic, depression) have improved simply by me opening my mouth and letting the words leave where they are stored inside me; pushed out into the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t go around constantly speaking about the subject to everyone I meet. Also, I don’t know at the moment I share these feelings what the reaction will be. I do know that some are informed and more accepting. Others, sadly, will still become uncomfortable and steer away from the conversation; puzzled; confused. And this is what needs to stop. The world needs educating.

And if at this moment, you don’t feel you can talk about it. Write it down. That’s exactly where I started.

And I feel better than I can remember.


[previously part-published 12th February 2016]