There’s a reason why I don’t speak about my mental health issues that I’ve had over the years.
It’s not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed. It’s not because I think it’s a taboo subject.
It’s purely because it’s not something that I let define who I am. And why should I?
When meeting someone new I don’t introduce myself with my name, age, job title and then list of medical history. Nor do I tell them my sexual orientation or allergies.
So why should I have to make my mental health issues, previous or current, known?
I know this is quite hypercritical considering it’s Mental Health Awareness Week still, and the whole point of the week is to make more people aware of the issues surrounding mental health – which includes talking about it more.
But for me I believe that although it’s good to talk to people and seek out help, we shouldn’t just give in and let it take over our lives.
Whether you have a severe mental health issue or one that comes and goes you shouldn’t let it control your life, your choices or what other’s think of you.
When we think of people we tend to think of things that remind us of them. I’d much rather people say; “oh that’s Emmi she’s a blogger”, or “oh that’s Emmi she’s really likes tea” not “oh that’s Emmi she used to self harm.”
Because the truth is, although we don’t want our issues to define who we are, once people find out about our flaws it’s what they tend to focus on. We’re humans. We judge people instantly and sadly it’s usually negative not positive judgements.
I always say that I’m an open book and I will answer anyone’s questions honestly and share my own stories. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to go around shouting about it.
I’m not ashamed to say that I used to self harm, nor am I embarrassed. But I also can’t tell you why I did it or why for some reason I felt that it was the answer to my problems.
But what I can say is that it was a part of my life, and it always will be, because we cannot change the past. But I will not let it define who I am.
As human’s we are complex beings and we are more than just adjectives.
We have personalities, traits, skills and opinions. We’re not just our body weight or political views. We’re not just our high school grades or salary.
So if we don’t let things like that define who we are, then why should we let our mental health do the same!
I gave an analogy to a friend at work of how mental health is like leg hair. We all have it.
Some of us have more than others, and some of us find it harder to cope with than others.
But we don’t go around using the state of our legs to describe ourselves or let it affect our capability to follow our goals and dreams.
Sure it might set you back at certain points in your life, but we are all so much more than our leg hair.
There is no doubt that whatever you’re going through – big or small – will shape you forever.
But it does not have to be the defining factor of you as a person – and the only person who can make sure that doesn’t happen is you!
I was judged and bullied in High School for my mental health issues and it made me focus on it more and just made things worse.
It wasn’t until I took control of my life and decided what I wanted to do with it, that I actually got a hell of a lot better.
It’s important to talk about mental health, but as we get to the end of the week focus on the positives. Focus on what makes you different from everybody else, and remember that you are so much more than your mental health.
Everything starts and ends with you!