Opening up: helping you weather the storm.

“There are no ‘Get Well Soon’ cards with mental illness” – Trisha Goddard. (However, it would be nice.)

Having my own mental health issues, I know how difficult it can be to open up to someone and tell them what you are going through.

There is a stigma that is attached to mental health and this is a stigma that is internalized, creating a black hole that eats away at your mental state, i.e, you feel like you have to go through your issues on your own. More and more we are being told that this isn’t the case, that we should be able to open up to those who are closest to us without feeling any kind of embarrassment or shame.

Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee
It’s easier to weather the storm with the right people.

However, this is something that in my experience doesn’t happen 100% of the time.

As I have already mentioned, it isn’t easy to spill your guts to the ‘ones you trust’ and hope that they don’t look upon the remains with disgust. In some cases this doesn’t happen. Once you have told someone about the struggles you are facing, they acknowledge the issues and how much courage it took for you to tell them and tell you that they will be there to help you weather the storm.

What is totally outrageous not acceptable is to have the person you are opening up to make you feel like you have to validate your problems to them; “Really? Are you sure you’re not just having a bad day?” I have been asked things like this when I have told people about my own difficulties; to the point where I have almost had to prove to them that I have been suffering.

It is things like this that mean that when it comes to discussing mental health, there is an inbuilt fear in the sufferer; “Will they accept me or will they reject me?”

It is people that do this that are hindering the mental health movement.

So here is a piece of advice for those suffering with mental health issues. It is something I have only come to terms with myself over the past few months, but it has helped me immensely – If you open up to someone and they do anything to make you feel like you have to justify yourself to them, they are not the kind of person you need to be around. For the sake of your own health.

And for those who may have someone open up to them one day: you have been trusted. This is your chance to help someone on the road to recovery and give someone a safe outlet to express their issues. If you abuse this then you are part of the problem. Not the solution.

You wouldn’t question someone who told you they had a physical illness, so why should mental illness be any different?

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