On mental health; why it's okay to be open about it.03:27
(image by Emm Roy)
Today I was going to write and shoot an outfit post for you. I had planned it out in my mind for a number of days; "Thursday will be the day I take a bulk of new photos on my camera using my new tripod, that way I'll have material for the next week etc etc". When I woke up this morning however, my mind was pretty cloudy. I felt a lack of energy. I felt unhappy, demotivated. I didn't feel body confident. So I decided to write this post instead because days like this happen quite a lot.
I've talked in a previous post about my struggles with mental illness, specifically anorexia nervosa and generalised anxiety disorder. These are issues that affect me hugely - days like today for instance - and as they impact my life a lot, I tend to be very open about this on social media. This may surprise people; mental illnesses are taboos!! They're so terrible, you /can't/ address these things!! And to a degree, I understand this. Mental illness is awful but it's a huge reality of life for many people - according to Time for Change, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. It's so common, yet no one is willing to address it - it's still something many believe should be kept hushed up and stored away, because of fear of judgement and losing friends. This is something that I feel strongly against and that I believe needs to change.
Okay, I'm 20 years old. I'm a university drop out who's looking for a job and running a blog part time - what can I do to make such a huge influence? Very little at the moment, in the grand scheme of things. My way of trying to get people to talk about their struggles is by trying to normalise it, simply by discussing my daily struggles and how I'm feeling on my Twitter page. If I'm having a positive day of recovery and have eaten a fear food, I'll post a photo of it and tell my followers how proud I am of myself. Alternatively if I feel extremely low, I won't hide that. I believe that by being real and including my true life daily experiences in the other content of my feed it shows how mental illness is a totally normal thing that we should not be afraid to be open about.
This candidness has received mixed response. Some people close to me have told me that they think I'm /too/ honest; that brands may see my social media and judge me based on the fact I have anxiety and an eating disorder therefore not wanting to work with me. My answer to that? I wouldn't want to work for people with this view. That may seem close minded of me but it's the truth, anyone who thinks that mental illness makes someone lesser or inferior is not someone I want in my life; personal or professional. On the whole however, the good reactions have far outweighed the negative. Lots of my friends have come to me with kind words of love and support which have fuelled my recovery and brightened me up on my darkest days; even people I barely knew before have become so much closer to me purely through their kindness and understanding of my situation. I've also had people open up to me about their own struggles - people I never knew were going through anything - and we have been able to offer each other support. Being open has helped me so much, and the fact I can also help others through this is totally invaluable.
What I'm trying to say is, it's okay not to be okay. We all go through trials and tribulations and it's easy to think that hiding the bad things in our lives is the best thing to do. We worry too much about being a burden, for situations we cannot help and do not want. But it's time to change this. We have to speak out and talk about mental illness and normalise it and we need to do it now. It's time to change the conversation about mental illness and be strong and open. I believe in you all. <3
For more information about why we need to get rid of mental illness discrimination please visit the Time To Change website, they are a wonderful campaign based on changing the conversation and ending stigma. If you want to follow me on Twitter, my username is @carackobama (my DM box is always open).