I’ve not been very well recently. If I’m honest, I’ve not been well for quite a long time. But for years, I have tried my best to ignore it and ‘get on with my life’.
How ridiculous is that? To live with debilitating and potentially life threatening symptoms, for years, and do almost nothing about it? Maybe go to the doctor once or twice, but never commit, never follow through with treatment, never give myself a chance to recover?
It probably has a little to do with the fact that being ill has been difficult for me to accept. And even more to do with the number of times I’ve been told get over it, pull yourself together, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Because the fact is, illnesses like mine, mental illnesses, make people feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or even angry. Imagine having that reaction to a person who was suffering from a physical illness. To gloss over it, ignore it, or worse – to have a go at them for being ill in the first place. Mental health is often not discussed openly, leaving those who have problems – and let’s face it, it’s a heck of a lot of people – feeling like they have to hide away, keep their suffering a secret, and (perhaps most worryingly) that they can’t ask for help.
But things are changing, for me personally, and in general. People – famous people, politicians – are talking about mental health. Some have even, very bravely, talked publicly about their own experience of mental illness. Stigma is being challenged by some wonderful organisations. Support is being advertised. Very, very, very slowly, attitudes are changing.
And me? I’ve decided it’s time to get better. Time to engage, to try things, and to do the work that is needed. Over the past wee while, I have made a start. It took a while to realise and accept that I am not well. And even longer to believe that getting better is possible (if I’m honest, there are days when I still struggle with this one!).
So, today is the start of my journey towards mental wellness (or my version of it). Feel free to join me.