I have been very honest about the fact that I am in the middle of a mental health crisis, one that I am finding very difficult to manage. My usual ways of coping just haven’t been helping. A lot of the time I have been so fatigued I haven’t had the energy to do the simplest of self-care actions.
Recently, I saw the hashtag #365daysofselfcare on Twitter and followed the link to the website Blurt. I decided that this is just what I need right now. It will get my focus back onto my self-care. Posting about it each day will help me to rebuild the habit and keep myself accountable.
Its been two weeks now since I started participating in the daily hashtag and it has indeed been beneficial. I am paying much more attention to taking care of myself and making time for self-care every day. There has also been an additional unexpected outcome of posting daily, it has got me talking about my mental health.
This really shouldn’t be a revelation for me, I write and make videos about my mental health all the time. However, when I write or make a video, I do so after the fact. I do talk very openly, but it is done in retrospect. My sharing is delivered in a reflective and measured way.
In contrast, the daily sharing I am doing with the hashtag on my Instagram and Twitter is raw and uncensored. I am sharing what is happening on that day, at that moment. In posting this way, I have often caught myself thinking, “I sound like I am a right state”, worrying about what people will think of me. Its been a surprise to notice that I still carry shame around my mental health, despite being so open about it.
Shame and stigma is a corrosive side effect of mental illness. It stops people asking for help and puts them more at risk of harm, isolation and worsening overall health. The shame is senseless, its an illness, what is there to feel shame about? Physical and mental health is part of everyone’s everyday life. We don’t shame someone for having a broken leg and tell them to pull themselves together, do we? We help them, supporting them while they heal. The same compassion needs to be extended to those who have mental health problems.
I am so pleased to see so many people and organisations talking openly this week as part of mental health awareness week. This must continue, not just this week but permanently. Living well with and recovering from mental illness, begins with removing the burden of shame.