That person you stalk on Instagram might have been to four festivals this year, have the glossiest of hair and a butt to rival Nikki Minaj, but actually? All might not be well in their world.
It’s very easy to spot a cancer patient or somebody suffering with MS but when someone is sick in the head, nobody need know aside from them. And although we are a far cry from lobotomies and involuntary ECT, this means that issues are bottled up and left undealt with because it might seem easier to ignore than to seek help.
I happen to know quite a few people who have suffered and are still suffering from various mental illnesses. Depression and anxiety mainly, unsurprising in this day and age, and for me, understanding mental illness really was a case of not believing it until I saw it. Panic attacks look terrifying from the outside, feeling anxious for no reason looks burdensome and not wanting to eat and not being able to sleep can literally ruin one’s life. I’ve watched it happen and I understand how easy it is to say ‘chin up’ or ‘get over it’ when you see people having a down day. But for some, it’s not quite so simple as pulling themselves together, and getting up on a Monday morning might just be that little bit more difficult for them.
It takes a hell of a lot of courage to ask for help and it also, shamefully, costs quite a bit. Of course, there are options on the NHS but you practically have to be about to jump off Beachy Head to get help and private counselling isn’t always an option.
So what can you do?
When someone is bound to a wheelchair or has a visual impairment, it’s quite obvious how you can help them out on a daily basis, whereas when you can’t actually see the problem, you can feel a bit helpless. So think of yourself as free health care. And not just today on World Mental Health Day, but everyday, make sure you ask that person who has gone a bit quiet if they’re okay and cut people some slack if they’re not feeling their best.
And if you don’t feel like yourself at the moment, talk.
Most importantly, be patient with people; you’ve no idea what’s going on upstairs, or beneath that perfect exterior.
Enjoy your weekend.