Mental Health Awareness Week – an open letter to anyone suffering

Dear reader,

I’m sure you’ve heard the Mind statistics. One in four people will develop a mental health problem every year. It can feel like the loneliest, most isolating road but you are surrounded by other silent sufferers. Well last year, was my year… maybe this year has been yours.

Believe me when I say that I know what it’s like. I know the feeling of being completely overwhelmed- your chest tightening, like someone’s grabbing from the inside and twisting ever so tight.

I know what it’s like trying to keep it together when you feel that the slightest thing might make you break- a thoughtless act from a stranger, a missed train, a bad day. Who knew the little things could feel so big?

I know the struggles of breathing deep, even breaths at night to try and gain some clarity before you wake and start the same battles over and over again… waking in the middle of the night because your anxiety won’t let you sleep.

I know what it’s like to doubt yourself- your abilities, your worth, your inherent traits as a person- realizing that the things that you’ve grown up believing aren’t quite so certain anymore. Will I be happy? A success? Am I content in what I do?

And know what it’s like to feel ungrateful for feeling these things- “I have a roof over my head, a comfortable life, so much to be grateful for. Why am I not happy?”

I remember all these feelings and struggles. But the most heartbreaking of them all? 

I know what it’s like to feel completely devoid of any emotion. To lose enjoyment in the things you once loved, and to feel as though you’re merely “getting by” in a life you once loved. 

It might take months, it might take years, but with the deepest of sincerity I promise you that it will get better if you want it to.

If you can have the honesty to evaluate the source(s) of your unhappiness and make the necessary changes, either big or small, things will get better.

If you can have the strength to carry on doing the things you usually enjoy even if you feel nothing anymore, I promise you that things will get better.

And if you can have the bravery to share your story with others then I promise you that one day we’ll be even closer to ending the stigma surrounding mental health. Not only will that save your life from unhappiness, but in time it’ll save others’ lives too. 

Just as we get ill, sometime’s our brains get ill too. It’s not about you- mental health issues don’t stigmatize us the way we do them. 

Sufferers will know that as much as you surround yourself with support there’s only so much someone else can do to help. It truly is up to you to help yourself.

It took months but gradually those feelings came back in little bursts, here and there. One day I realised that I could sleep soundly again. My days weren’t filled with dread- I could think clearly and life didn’t feel so delicate. 

Everyone’s recovery processes and timescales will be different, but we are all entitled to that same feeling of happiness. It is my true belief, dear reader, that you can get there too.

I wish I could convey just how much I missed that feeling of sheer, tangible, happiness. It took me months to feel again and I’ve never appreciated it so much. I can still remember it now. It was short and it was sweet, but it stopped me dead in my track. One day, it’ll do the same for you.

All my love,
H x

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