With 1 in 6 people in the UK experiencing common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and high percentages of people experiencing other mental health problems why is it, we still feel alone, day to day, with our own experiences with mental health?
Recently I was sitting at home having what is a rare hour to myself, which sounds pleasant but this can be dangerous for me. I can, at times, be alone quite happily, that is, until my mind starts to wander and realises that I am alone.
This is my anxiety’s prime opportunity. While I’m vulnerable and with no distractions, my anxiety can make me think anything, even if it’s not true. It can trigger difficult, anxious thoughts.
In those moments I feel so alone. Not only physically alone, but alone in my thoughts and feelings. I feel like no one could possibly let their mind trick them like mine does, believe the lies anxiety tells – everyone else is getting on with their day, why can’t I?
I go to Instagram for distraction and look at the hundreds of people who are out on a walk, in a café reading a book with a coffee, at work, on holiday, at the gym, with family, with their children, with friends. All smiling at the camera, all looking content and happy. Do they also have thoughts racing through their head constantly? Do they get that prickly feeling of dread when a random memory or thought creeps in? Have we all got so good at hiding it? Even if overall there is a movement to be more open about mental health, why is it that so many of us still feel so alone when it comes to our own?
That’s when I look at my own Instagram, the majority of my content is pictures of my baby but I scroll down to years ago when my mental health was at its worst. I was experiencing general anxiety disorder and depression, I was on anxiety and depression medication, and when I wasn’t working I was usually sleeping.
But there they were, they smiling selfies and happy captions. I was with friends and family, I was doing things like going to dinner, lunch, out for drinks. I know I was mentally not well because I remember it, but the pictures tell a different story. So why would I think that everyone else was different, why do I feel like the only person in the world when I feel worried or sad, or when my depression or anxiety takes over? When I know very well that I am not alone in those feelings.
280 million people, worldwide, live with depression
We are very much not alone in our mental health. In fact, approximately 280 million people, worldwide, live with depression, not taking into account any other mental health issues people experience worldwide. Recently, we asked our followers on Instagram how they were feeling on a random day that week, and on average the results were “not so good”. Responses were that people felt “useless”, “stagnated” “overworked”, “tired”, and “run down”. In one of our polls, a number of people expressed that they were struggling.
It is disheartening of course to hear that so many people are struggling with a number of mental health issues, but to know that there are people that understand and can empathise with the pain or struggle that you experience yourself can be somewhat of a comfort. You are not alone. Talking about your own mental health could bring awareness, relief, comfort or support to someone else. Opening up can bring you closer to those around you, give others an understanding of certain behaviours that may previously be confusing to those who don’t understand why you might do or say certain things that are linked to your mental health. When we open up, others often do too.
At Talk and Grow we believe that therapy is for everyone and for anything so no matter how you feel or what is going on in your world we encourage you to seek therapy if you wish to do so.
Keep talking, keep sharing, keep learning, keep trying to understand and remember: you are not alone.
TOP TIP: Talking about your mental health
If you find yourself struggling to talk about your own experiences with your mental health but want to talk about it with a friend or family member, try doing so during a task or in a casual setting. Sitting someone down can make things feel formal or put pressure on but starting a conversation while you’re out on a walk or doing a chore or driving the car, regularises the situation and feels less as though there’s a spotlight on you.
Quote of the week
Quote of the Week
“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” — Dan Millman