Posted on Thu 05 Feb 2015 at 10:22 by Sam Spencer
I thought it would be a good time for me to post a blog today, on Time to Change’s ‘Take 5’ day! Hopefully with me publishing my mental health tale we can get the conversation going, especially with my Mental Health Awareness Campaign recently being launched.
My story goes all the way back to starting college, the shock of leaving school and starting to think more independently hit me like a freight train, suddenly I was having different lessons and break times with a group of people I had no connection with. Only a few of my friends from school went to my college and it was strange suddenly feeling lonely. Tied with a grievance in the family I felt absolutely alone in the world. I went through a year of college in subjects I didn’t want to do with people I didn’t know/like and inevitably failed in half my AS Levels.
I went out for lunch with a close friend during the summer of that year, but on the drive home for a split second I thought ‘I could crash this car and end it all’. It was that moment I knew I had a problem and needed help, I just didn’t know where to go or what to do. I was embarrassed and ashamed to admit I had a problem, so kept it quiet from my friends and family, eventually going to my Doctor and telling them how I felt. It wasn’t my usual GP and they had a student nurse with them so it felt very intimidating, they essentially prescribed me some medication and left me to myself, I then struggled with this for 2 years. Protip: Don’t do that, it gnawed away inside and all culminated in a massive explosion of emotion late last year.
Having spent 2 years on my university course with feelings of desperation and despair including multiple attempts to end my own life I eventually told the sabbatical team what I was dealing with. This was the first step into a series of small successes, I let them know which helped me to realise that I’m not broken and it’s not a bad thing to be having these feelings. Opening up and having that conversation was a great start, I hadn’t even told my family or friends. Over the past few months I’ve been opening up more to friends and family, all of which have been incredibly supportive and understanding. I’ve realised that I’m exactly like anyone else, I’m not broken, I’m no worse than any other person. I am me and that’s ok.
It sounds corny but as both myself and Hannah have said, and honestly this comes from the deepest part of my heart… Have a conversation with someone about it. Today is perfect, it’s Time to Change’s Take 5 day. Take 5 minutes out of your day to talk to someone, ask how they’re doing and be genuine about it. Do it whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, do it whilst waiting for your next lecture, on a dull bus journey, anywhere. Talk about how you feel, what’s worrying you, what you do to relax, anything. Don’t do what I did and keep quiet about the whole affair until it all comes out like a massive fountain of gloom.
I’m still working out what to do myself and the support I’m getting is great. My friends and family have been a great support network, as I’d always worry no-one would understand what I’m feeling. It’s a half truth, as no-one can truly feel what I’m feeling and there is SO MUCH STIGMA around mental health that it’s understandable why no-one can understand. Often the best thing you can do is just listen. You don’t need to be a counsellor to support anyone. Just be a friendly ear, shoulder to cry on, generally be a caring friend.
Having been through all of the systems and understanding how things operate I’m now more comfortable with myself and my surroundings, this is why I’m running a Mental Health Awareness week in March, 23-27th. If you would like any more information beforehand, or to get involved or even just to have a chat with me feel free to contact me!
1 in 4 people suffer from some kind of mental health issue, so have the conversation, lets get a dialogue going and remember, no matter what you do you will always have mine and the unions support! After all, You Are Not Alone.