This week is another #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in the world and a perfect time to think about our own mental wellbeing as well as the views we have of the mental health of other people.  For years and even centuries, society has had a certain stigma associated with mental health.  People were taught to put on a brave face, to have a stiff upper lip and pretend everything is fine, even if they are falling apart inside.  Mental health is not something that can be treated so lightly or with such disregard though because we all have mantal health just as well all have physical health.

If we hear about someone having mental health problems, there’s often an initial feeling people get to back away or stay wary of the individual who has problems.  But as with so many chronic physical health conditions, mental health problems are rarely seen and you don’t always know that someone may be suffering inside and dealing with trauma, depression, anxiety or something else on a daily basis.

We all need to be kinder to ourselves and recognise that there is no shame in having mental health problems.  If we aren’t coping in our minds then something is wrong with the health of our minds and just like physical ailments, many of them can be treated, and in some cases they sometimes can go away, such as depression (depending on individual circumstances and reasons for it happening in the first place).  So if you see yourself as having problems go and do seek help.  But likewise when you see someone else, remember that they may or may not be going through something themselves so be kind to people no matter what.

People are good at hiding mental health problems, I’ve done it myself for years with nobody suspecting there was anything wrong with me.  It’s not good to hide your problems but many people do and sometimes it’s their way of coping.  So whenever you are around people, always be aware that if they seem reluctant to chat (or even if they’re not) they might be going through more than you think.  And if they do tell you they have mental health problems, don’t shy away, instead just ask what (if anything) you can do to help and then continue to treat them as a normal person, as you did before you knew.

Below is a poem I wrote some time ago.  I had been recently looking back through my old poems from when I felt more depressed (as I’d had a momintary lapse into feeling a bit ‘off’ at the weekend).  This poem sums up perfectly how I sometimes feel and have been.  And maybe you’ll recognise yourself in it too?

(Note: Please be aware this  poem is not overly happy but sums up my mental health – and that of many others – perfectly)

The Real Me

Everyday you see a part of me,
The one that I reveal.
You never see the other half,
The one that’s truly real.
You see me smiling, happy,
Believe I’m full of cheer.
You never see the other half,
The one that’s full of fear.
You see me always busy,
Getting on with every day.
You never see the other half,
That’s too afraid too say…
No longer am I coping,
A good day will be so sad.
Praise will all be given,
But I will just feel bad…
That I cannot be festive,
My heart in a tight knot.
Mind tells me: be happy,
All the while losing the plot.
That day you’ll see a part of me,
The one I will have revealed,
You’ll never see the other half,
The one that isn’t healed.

-Poem first appeared online November 2016 – now republished here.

How do you approach mental health problems?  Do you have some yourself?  How do you interact with people you know or don’t know to have some mental health problems?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂