I’m just going to go out there and say it. Mental health. At present, 3 in 10 people in the United Kingdom will suffer with some form of mental illness at some point in their life. 1 in 10 will suffer with depression. In the LGBT community these figures are thought to be considerably higher. Approximately 5500 people committed suicide in 2010, and while these numbers continue to fall, there remains so much we can do to help stop ourselves and others becoming one of those statistics.
It’s disappointing to think that with so many of us being affected by depression and mental illness, it’s still considered a ‘taboo’ subject. There are many things that can cause people’s mental well-being to deteriorate; stress at work, or at home, money worries, drugs and alcohol, loss of a loved one, relationships… The list goes on. There’s no denying that living in the 21st Century is a tricky and, at times, unpleasant business.
Sometimes it feels like our lives are mapped out for us by the decisions we make and what we are expected to do every day. We get up, we go to work, we earn money, we pay bills, we make friends, we are nice (god forbid), we eat, poop and sleep and then we do it all over again. At least, that’s how it can feel at times. But we have to be careful not to get stuck, or bogged down with our day-to-day lives. We have to make time for me-time. Time to have fun. It’s forgetting to kick off our heels and just chill out for a while that provides opportunities for depression to kick in. And let’s not pretend that we gays don’t know how to throw a party. So just make sure you do – every once in a while. Have a party, have a giggle, make time on your daily to-do list to take care of your old noggin, on top of all the other things we have to remember to worry about.
But the best part is: we can talk about it! If you do feel yourself beginning to slip, or you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, there are people out there who can help. As well as going and talking to your doctor, charities such as MIND and Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you feel your world is either falling apart, or you’ve just had a crap day. Their volunteers have gone through months of training and spoken to hundreds of people, just like yourself. There’s no issue too big, or too small. If something is bothering you, then let it out in the open. And the best part is, they don’t know you, so they can’t judge.
I’ve been in a place where I wanted to end my life and I went so far as to try. I was miserable and couldn’t see another way out. At the time I didn’t know there were people there who could help me in the way I help people now. I had to go it alone, but the fact of the matter is – you don’t have to.
Don’t shut mental illness up in the closet. Talk about it. Confront it. And spare a thought for your brain. Let’s Talk About It.