Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Mental Health

In the light of recent events surrounding mental health and suicide, I felt I had to scribble down some thoughts on the matter of it all.

When I refreshed Twitter and saw the devastating news of Mike Thalassitis I actually said “what?!” out loud to myself. I couldn’t believe it. Another young soul who felt like he couldn’t go on any longer, taken away from the world far too soon. I felt so deeply saddened and shocked by the news, I still do. Reading the thousands of tweets, comments and shares surrounding this young man is absolutely gut wrenching. Watching Montana Brown, another ex Love Islander, on This Morning break down saying she wishes she replied to Mike’s last texts made me feel sick. I cannot imagine what she must be feeling, the overwhelming sense of guilt and the “I could have done more” phrase circling around her head. It’s something no one should have to go through in their life. Every post, comment and share I’ve seen has been telling the world how much of a kind, caring soul Mike was with such an exciting future ahead of him. A true gentleman that was often misunderstood from the television persona he seemed to have taken on. 

Mental health and suicide is something which is still not spoken about enough. The awareness surrounding the ‘taboo’ subject has certainly gotten better than it has been previously over the past year or two but is still not taken as seriously as it should be. Men, in particular, are not getting the help they need. The most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales, is suicide. Read that again. The most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales, is suicide. In an ever developing world the only thing that seems to be deteriorating is our mental health. Why? Mental health issues have obviously always been a problem throughout the ages but has it worsened now due to the digital age? Is it because the educational structure we go through is so robust? Is it the pressure of having to have your shit together by the time you’ve left school/college/university when you can just about decide what to eat for dinner? Or afford it for that matter... Social media? Relationships? Bullying? The truth is, all of those matters and more can affect someone’s mental health and well-being and I do believe we live in a much more pressured society than we ever have done before. It’s a rarity to talk to someone, particularly a millennial, who hasn’t experienced mental health problems. I know someone personally who took his own life, I’ve been through other horrendous situations where I could have lost someone I loved and I, myself, have been through some pretty tough patches too. 

For a young woman, who’s only recently turned 23, I sure as hell have been through a lot of shit in my time which in turn affected my mental state. It’s strange, yet therapeutic typing this out. It was only a year ago where I felt so low I genuinely couldn’t see a future for myself. It’s almost like you feel absolutely every emotion all at once and in turn it makes you numb to the core. I was at the lowest point I’ve ever experienced and I remember the day I just looked at myself in the mirror and broke down. It was like something out of a movie. I could barely breathe, crying like I never have done before. I was slumped on my freezing cold bathroom floor for what felt like hours until I could calm myself down and pull myself out of it. It was fucking scary. That being said, with some ups and downs and still a few road bumps along the way every now and again, a whole year on and I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I’m in such a good place. I’m happy, laid back and enjoying my life. It’s so crazy looking back to think of what a dark place I was in, thinking that was it. Yet here I am. There’s so many bullshit cliché sayings with this being one of them but there truly is light at the end of the tunnel and things do get better.   

I went through everything by myself. It’s the way I’ve always been, I’ve had no choice but to deal with the cards I’ve been dealt with and get through things in life with me, myself and I and this phase in my life was no different. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my thoughts and feelings, I didn’t want to bother people or come across as attention seeking. I wanted it all to be okay and to not let anyone see how things really were. Luckily, for me, I was able to get through it by myself. I threw myself into the gym, albeit a few hiccups along the way with gym anxiety, I started researching and learning about spirituality and the law of attraction and most of all, I focused on myself for once. I started putting myself first for the first time and over the past year, it has done me wonders. Learning about spirituality and the law of attraction really helped me along the way. It’s something I practice in every day life. It’s incredible and opens you up to a whole new world and way of thinking. The gym was fantastic too. Getting those happy juices flowing and taking care of the physical side of myself also and I’ve even made some friends for life along the way which is just an amazing bonus! However, there was a fatal flaw in all of this. Did you pick up on it? I did it alone. I never reached out. I didn’t want to feel like a burden. And that’s exactly how the majority of people feel. Not everyone is lucky, they can’t get through it by themselves. 

Men often feel this way. Men are told from the moment they can just about babble the word “dada” that they are a man. And being a man is more than just a gender. They must do and say certain things. They must assert their strength and superiority at all times. They can’t be seen as weak and crying? Crying?! Have a laugh. You’re a man and men don’t cry. It’s a ridiculous concept and power play and these small micro aggressions from birth are what leads to problems later on in life. I’ve spoken to so many guy friends and nearly all of them struggle to open up, they feel they can’t talk and if they do, they think they’re seen as weak. This needs to change and it must change now. Too many men are dying. Too many men are left without the help and support they need. No matter what gender or what age, check up on the people in your life. Reach out. Let people know you’re thinking of them and that you’re there for them if they ever need you. Watching someone’s Snapchats or liking a few Instagram photos isn’t checking up on someone, do you know how easy it is to fool the world into thinking you’re living your best life? Engage in a conversation, take an interest and listen to the response. Be there for people and for god sake, allow people to be there for you too! Stop pushing people away. Allow them in, even just one! It could truly change your life forever - you have no idea how much one conversation could change yours or somebody else’s life. It’s also important to remember that ultimately, you are in charge of your own happiness, so is everyone else. You are not solely responsible for the way someone may feel and their actions don’t necessarily reflect anything you’ve done - understand that you can’t change someone and they won’t get better over night. It’s all a big crazy rollercoaster and you’ll be in for one hell of a ride but if you persevere and see it through, it will be the best damn ride you’ve ever been on.

RIP Mike. Thinking of all his family and close friends at this devastating time. 

Please reach out if you are struggling. I’m always here for a conversation no matter whether we’re close friends, acquaintances or complete strangers. Don’t suffer in silence.

Until next time...

Elle x