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Discussing Mental Health

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By Christie Marsh

Today I am going to write about the topic of mental health, a topic that I have always avoided because I knew that discussing it would mean I had to admit to myself that I was suffering. I have learned a lot about myself in the past year and a half: what I enjoy, who I want in my life and the goals I want to achieve. My confidence has improved and I have opened up to a lot of people, but never about my ‘mental state’. Now, I am ready.

My name is Christie and I am 21 years old. I have anxiety, OCD and dyslexia. I am on daily medication. This does not define me. None of these labels are going to stop me from achieving my goals of being a fashion writer. These labels aren’t my personality, my hopes and my dreams. They are just obstacles that I will defeat. Any single person in this world can be diagnosed with a mental health problem and we should be wise enough to support those around us and not to push away the people who are trying to help.

Due to difficult personal circumstances in 2014/early 2015, I have really suffered at times with my mental health. It is so easy to generalise and presume someone is having a bad day, but my ‘bad days’ were all day, every day. It has taken me an incredibly long time to face the subject that I may need help and I am not strong enough to change my thoughts but this year was the year I changed my life. What I went through in 2014 changed my life for the better. Yes, I became so poorly I couldn’t even stand, had an eating disorder and I had to withdraw from university a year and a half in but I began to realise that sometimes bad things happen to make way for better things and better people in our lives.

This year, in February, I started counselling for my depression and anxiety and hardly anyone knew I was going. So it’s really strange to me that I am being so open about it now but I am learning that it’s good to talk about problems we may have, whether it be with friends, a doctor or even a stranger we happen to meet.

I have never really known much about mental health. In high school, it was a topic that was never really covered. I think it would be a great idea if the National Curriculum introduced classes which discussed mental health, learning difficulties and body confidence. That way, from a young age we would be a bit more informed on the subjects and would thus have greater empathy if we ever knew someone who was suffering. Every single person in the world has their own battle with something. What we have to make sure is that we don’t stereotype and that we understand that people can be affected in different ways.

I’ve always been a very confident person and I’ve always had a really good support network. That’s why its difficult when you are suffering with your mental health, as you often question why you have a problem when the support is there. Mental Health is a subject that people are aware of, but not everyone understands the severity of each individual and how it affects their everyday life. This post is my attempt to make people realise how we should all be kind to everyone we meet, as sometimes the most confident people have the darkest secrets.

My interest in mental health has stemmed from my younger sister Katie as she has suffered with anxiety for a number of years now. Until I was diagnosed myself, I never really understood how she felt. At times this makes me upset that I was so narrow-minded but we can’t let our brains think that way. Now I am more open to understanding as I know, myself, how it feels to be living with a label. I will not let my labels define me. Just because I have a mental health problem, that does not mean that I am a mental health problem.

My flatmate, Georgia, has been kind enough to make me an anti-depression kit. Georgia herself suffers from mental health problems and it is nice that I live with someone who understands me and who has my best interests at heart. Georgia is teaching me every day how to discuss my mental health and, for the first time in my life, it feels good to discuss this as you never know who you could help. It could just be my mum reading this or it could reach a variety of people, but please, if you are reading this, be thankful for the ones that support us.

Christie is a 21 year old daydreamer and International Fashion Promotion Student. You can find her blog here.

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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