As mental health awareness week draws to a close (or the working part of it, at least), I can honestly say that I’m fucking relieved. It’s been exhausting, draining and mentally taxing and I know that I’m not the only mental health campaigner that feels this way.
You see, for us, y’know, the one in four, mental health awareness week doesn’t end when the office mindfulness session has finished, or the guest speaker has left, or when Sunday rolls around and next week it’s back to the pub and footie. Because for us, mental health awareness week is every day of our lives. It’s a constant, and like the equator, mental health encircles our lives when we’re riding high or sinking low. We carry it with us on the bus (yuck), on the tube (see bus), on the train (okay, you get the idea) or even when we’re laying in bed, incapable of shifting the covers and facing the day.
This is my point; mental health for us isn’t something that we want to talk about every single day because we think about it enough as it is. Reminders have been all over social media, on the telly, radio, newspapers and mags and it’s just too much. I get it, I know it’s still needed because you still hear the odd dickhead or troll say, “Why don’t you just snap out of it? Can’t you just go for a walk, do some meditation and get over it?” so I really appreciate the necessity of highlighting the importance in talking about mental health in today’s society.
But it’s fucking incessant. It’s non-stop, and frankly, it’s just too triggering this year. I don’t know why I feel this way, and I guess I’m not too fussed in finding out the reason (please just know that I hope there are not 13 of them (if you know, you know)). I’ve debated talking so frankly about how I feel, hell, I’ve even contemplated shutting off from it all completely, but then moments happen that flip you 180 and make you change your mind.
Moments like today, when, out of the blue, one of my best friends of ten years called me up to tell me that because of (partly) my campaigning and my transparency when talking about my struggles with my mental health, they had plucked up the courage to go their GP and talk about their own fears and in the process were diagnosed with a mental illness of their own. I was able to impart some wisdom and advice that I’ve picked up over the years and, most importantly, give them hope and encouragement that a diagnosis isn’t a new definition of who you are, it’s just a little add-on, for the fine print if people really want to know.
My friend’s courage gave me the courage to sit down, confront my own thoughts about this week and my feelings overall of late and write this concoction for you all to pour over like a ripe, juicy, mentally prepared peach.
If this week has been particularly hard for you, I want you to know that you really aren’t alone. A lot of us have been feeling it, and I for one am so glad about the royal wedding and the FA Cup being on the same day, because at least there’ll be something else to fucking talk about, even if it’s only a small respite.
Happy painting, and god bless folks x