The thing with mental health struggles is that it can be happening to anyone.
And it’s everyone.
It could be the man who’s got to middle-age with the mantra of Be Strong and Men Don’t Cry and Man Up and when it’s in your head you just don’t think about that, you know? It’s not something you realise is ingrained until one day you have to accept that maybe you’re not ok, you’re not feeling your best, you’re a bit down or a bit grey or just feeling like you don’t want to go on and not even Think Positive! is helping, and you wonder if everyone feels like this.
And then you make an offhand comment to your friend, your colleague, your neighbour – and you keep thinking. Keep talking. Keep realising that it’s ok to talk about.
I see you. It’s hard to talk about something that’s meant shame and secrecy for most of your life, and it’s hard to realise that actually, you can be not ok and yet still be ok.
It’s hard, and you’re doing it. Take a moment, and just take that in. You can do it. You are doing it. I’m really proud of you.
It could be the parent who’s got to retirement and has just kept going, kept soldiering on because that’s what you do, kept ploughing away at all the hard stuff because that’s what life is about and then something happens that just knocks you flat, and makes it so hard to even get out of bed in the mornings. Maybe it’s not something you can just struggle through – or it’s something that keeps reoccurring, keeps coming back, and you think, “I gotta do something.”
And you talk to your children and your partner and your friends, or you read, or you go to your doctor. And you admit that something isn’t quite right, and you need help. The people around you will help – they’ll listen. They’ll do what they can.
I see you. It’s hard to talk to people with different life experiences; children that you knew so well and then had to let go; partners who have been there forever and yet still have things to learn; strangers with knowledge that can help you. It’s hard. And I’m really proud of you for doing it.
It could be the person who’s always known that they don’t experience the world in quite the same way that others seem to; known that slights seem sharper, defeats more bitter, emotions more damaging. Known that maybe they get knocked down a bit more easily, and it’s harder to see the path some days. But it’s hard to get people to understand, sometimes, or to get them to see that everything’s linked – maybe it isn’t just the surface problem that needs fixing, or the immediate tears that need drying. But it’s just something they cope with, day after endless day.
And they realise that they can change. That there are ways to cope more easily with the ups and downs, hard as they are to learn. That the way their brain sees the world is as much learned as it is experienced, and that even if we can’t change what happens, we can change our reactions. That there are tiny things that can’t change everything, but can just change enough.
I see you. I see you struggling, and learning, and every single day you are fighting. I am proud of you.
It could be the person who’s been there, done that, got the scars. They know. They’ve seen how far their mind can go down a rabbit-hole; they’ve seen what the weasels will do, faced down every bad-case scenario, fought off the worst of the demons…
And then they step up and face another day. Face the same battles under different flags. Win some, lose some, keep fighting the war.
They have to have the conversations that say, “This is me and this is how it works, for all that I wish it didn’t, or wish it would change, or don’t wish a single thing different.”
And they have to have the conversations that say, “I’ve been here. I know. Trust me.”
For everyone who still gets up every morning, despite knowing the battles they might face. For everyone who pulls out the sword again, and whacks the same weasels over the head again. For everyone who knows that it’s not going to get better, and carries on regardless.
I see you. I know you. And I know how hard it is.
I am so proud of you.
This is from someone who knows how hard it is, sometimes, to have those conversations; to admit defeat, or weakness, or confusion; to try to explain what’s going on inside your head when you don’t understand it, or the fog or tiredness or clouds have simply got too thick.
I see you. I see you trying to make a difference, and looking out for yourself, and trusting in yourself.
I see you fighting. And I’m so, so proud of you.