The beginning is always the hardest, or so they say. Having been told for so long that a blog could be the perfect solution to ordering my thoughts and collecting together my random writings, I decided that there was no time like the present to give it a go!
Having survived the storm that was the exam period, I now find myself with the long forgotten phenomenon – ‘free time’. If I was ever going to get around to writing, now would be the time. As a third year Modern Languages student, I’ve been somewhat left to my own devices to fill the next 15 months or so with new cultural adventures, with the aim of improving my language skills and essentially immersing myself in other cultures. And so, faced with a year seemingly free of academic deadlines (or in other words, to avoid the TLRP or dissertation prep), I’m taking the opportunity to write about a few things that are pretty close to home and which I hope will be worth the read.
As with all new projects, it’s going to take a while to find my feet and I’m sure this space will be somewhat disordered for a while whilst it takes shape. It will mainly be focussed on mental health – my own personal experience, but also my view surrounding the national struggle with access to mental health services and the ongoing stigma in society. I want to share some of the things that I have learned along the way as well as the things which I wish I had known from the outset. I also want to address the big ‘R’ that is ‘Recovery’ – how our approach to recovery can actually hinder our progress, and how to define a term which represents something so different to each individual.
Although in recent years the profile of mental health has changed somewhat, with significant efforts being made to raise awareness of the importance of addressing mental health difficulties, there is still a long way to go before the stigma is eradicated entirely. I honestly believe that the only way to align mental health with physical health in terms of importance and approach is to talk and to not stop talking about it. If conversations about Depression or Anxiety or Bipolar disorder, for example, were as socially acceptable as those concerning the Common Cold, it would have a huge impact on sufferers.
Mental illness, in many cases, feeds on isolation and shame, telling the individual that they are a burden to others and an embarrassment to those around them. In a society which continues to try to brush mental health under the carpet, the marginalisation and pressure to cover the inner struggle with a radiant smile, only adds fuel to the fire. I believe that to be able to speak openly about mental health, without the fear of being judged, misunderstood or ‘labelled’, could significantly reduce the severity of struggle for many individuals who don’t dare to speak out until they reach a point where they can’t hide the truth any longer.
I hope that what I share will be beneficial to some, but I’m also very aware that recovery and wellness are both unique to each individual and that the things that help one person may not necessarily be what another person finds useful.