World Mental Health Day: I Am Not Ashamed
Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. In truth every day feels like mental health day to me, since so much of the work I do at university is focused on mental health and wellbeing; not to mention the fact that I am balancing my mental health with myriad responsibilities and daily self care. It's a topic that I talk about a lot but today the world – or at least most of social media – is recognising the need to shed light on such an important topic and I wholeheartedly support that.
I was having a conversation last night with my cousin and her friends about my blog, when they asked if I was comfortable with being so open about my life on the internet. As a generation that were my age mostly pre-social media, it seemed like the level of vulnerability I was willing to convey to total strangers was something that was surprising to say the least. Now this is something I have had to think about deeply, and crosses my mind almost every time I click publish. I communicate a lot of my personal feelings on here which means anyone could see it, a fact that I have had to make peace with. Is this scenario something that I want my family to see? Will it worry them or my friends? As a soon-to-be university graduate: what if potential employers come on here?
But I am not ashamed of my struggles. I write about them because I believe that we can both learn from what I have been through and because they have made me become who I am. Mostly, and in response to that last concern, the truth is I don't want anyone in my life that can't respect that about me, and that includes workplaces. I have so much to offer and I actively want to work in a career that improves wellbeing, and to do that whilst pretending that it is not a consideration for myself would not do justice to my knowledge and passion.
A particular inspiration for me in this regard is the Self Esteem Team. Co-founders Grace Barrett, Natasha Devon and Nadia Mendoza work tirelessly to provide support and emotional education for teenagers across the country but they are honest about their own backgrounds. Between the three of them they have suffered from bulimia, anxiety and self harm but this doesn't invalidate the power that they have, it strengths it. They have found support and in turn provide it for others.
We can't champion honesty in others without being honest about it ourselves. Everyone has their own boundaries and I respect that for others it is not easy to open up. But I have nothing to be ashamed about, and thus I will write honestly to you about what I go through. I take pride in the challenges I have faced because I have learnt from them and come out the other side. It has created a passion in me that makes most days deeply fulfilling, and even the ones that aren't hold a lesson in them somewhere.
I am not ashamed, and you don't have to be either.