Stigma within the Mental Health Community: Part II

I previously wrote an article about the ongoing stigma within the mental health community, and it pains me to have to do so once again, particularly as this time it is due to a very different matter. The first part of this unintended series detailed the ongoing stigma and negative behaviour between those who suffer from non-psychotic disorders, and those who do. Unfortunately, another issue I have stumbled across is that of the stigma and abuse occurring between those who take medication to treat their disorder and those who don’t.

Before I begin, it is important to take into consideration that similarly to my previous article on the matte of stigma within the mental health community, this is aimed at a select few people. The mental health community is a wonderful and supportive place filled with some of the best people that I have ever met, as written in a previous article of mine praising the mental health community. Yet there are still those who are letting our community down, promoting an incorrect and stigmatized perspective on mental illness.

I have personally witnessed those who take medication force the view that medication is your only effective option for treatment and that if you are mentally ill, you should be taking it. However, what truly angers me about this matter is that those who take medication are actually accusing others of not being mentally ill and completely dismissing their suffering due to the individuals choice to not take medication; I have personally experienced this. Those who take medication have avoided those who do not take medication, they are treated with great bias due to pure ignorance, and will be cast aside by those individuals.

I have found that the majority of those who choose not to take medication for whatever reason, will agree entirely with the use of medication for other individuals, and are more accepting of other individuals choice of treatment. Of course, there are some who are entirely against medication which I utterly disagree with, there are extremists within this community which solely believe and promote that mental illness can be treated or cured with homoeopathy, herbal remedies, or that their illness if in fact a spiritual awakening; whilst slating others for their choice of treatment. This is equally as absurd as those who take medication being abusive to those who don’t.

However, currently the more common occurrences of abuse do seem to be from the side of those who take medication, as they treat those who choose not to go down that route with disrespect, ignorance, abuse, and negligence; as if they do not matter or are not worthy of being in this community, which is completely untrue.

This needs to stop, we are given different treatment options for a reason, different treatments will work for different people. There are a multitude of reasons as to why people choose the treatment options that they do; medication resistance does exist, the side effects of the medication can at times be worse than the illness itself, some people cannot afford or have access to mental health services, let alone medication.

The whole point of this community is for it to be a place of support and safety, where we are not judged for our illnesses or life choices. This is the second article that I have had to write in order to address the ongoing stigma occurring within the mental health community and it is absolutely ridiculous. I am baffled as to what is going on within this community, it’s a place of support and care, not abuse and negligence; and if you are for the latter, you do not belong in this community, it is that simple.

Stigma: What You Don’t Know

This article is for those without a mental illness, I aim to shed some light and clarity on exactly what it is that we experience as mentally ill individuals; and the problems which stem from stigma, misinformation, and all too common misconceptions about mental illness. Although this article is mainly intended for those without a mental illness, I would love to hear the opinions of others who suffer from a mental illness on this matter.

As individuals who do suffer from a mental illness, we hear the typical “everyone feels like that sometimes”, “we all feel like that”, “at least you’re not ______” all too often. It is the stigma, misinformation, and misconceptions that contribute to leading you to think that you know what it is like to suffer from a mental illness, which I can guarantee you don’t, whilst you downplay our illnesses as normal thoughts, feelings and experiences, which we are clearly overreacting to; we are simply lazy, unlikeable people in the eyes of the ignorant.

Here’s the thing: you do not feel what we feel, a mental illness is called a mental illness for that exact reason, it’s an illness. We are not experiencing normal human emotions, thoughts or experiences, otherwise we would not be diagnosed by medical professionals as mentally ill. Mental illness twists, modifies, and intensifies what would be normal human emotions, thoughts and experiences by a horrifically incredible amount. We do not perceive the world in the way that you do, a mental illness will affect every single aspect of your life, changing your life and the person you are entirely. However, you have to adapt to this, you have to adapt to living with a mental illness; we are given no choice. If you suffer from a psychotic disorder, not only are our thoughts and emotions being affected, our sensory perception will be affected to; leaving us to live our lives in a reality that you are not aware of.

I have found that the issue tends to be that people who do not suffer from a mental illness attempt to equate our experiences to their own, they relate our mental illnesses to the normal every day negative situations that they experience; you perceive and judge us through eyes of ignorance. Depression is not sadness, mania is not happiness, psychosis isn’t seeing something out of the corner of your eye; anxiety is not nervousness, our illnesses are not your emotions.

The following quote resonates strongly with me on this issue:

The humanity we share is more important than the mental illness that we don’t”

– Professor Elyn R. Saks

Individuals who suffer from mental illnesses should not be cast aside, declared lazy, be told that we are not trying hard enough, or that we are not ill at all; we need to be showed compassion, empathy, and care. We are all humans, our lives may be very different, we may be very different, but that does not make us inferior to those who do not suffer from a mental illness.

Until the day you wake up and know how it feels to have to fight and struggle with your mind every second of the day to simply survive, to feel the weight of the world cave in on your chest, desperately grasping to hold onto the things you know and love whilst your illness strips it all away from you, don’t you dare tell me you know how it feels. 

Stigma: Halloween

With Halloween approaching quickly, I feel that it is necessary to write this article. As expected, each and every year mental illnesses and the tragedies they can cause are used as both Halloween costumes and decoration. Not only is this deemed acceptable, but is also defended by the companies who produce and sell these products, as well as those who use them.

Firstly, what is the purpose of Halloween? Oh yes, that’s it, to be celebrated by children (or people of all ages) by dressing up in frightening masks and costumes. Where did Halloween come from? It came from ancient Celtic roots, and is known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’). It is believed that during Samhain the division between the living world and the other world is at its thinnest, allowing the spirits of the dead to come through.

Where does anything to do with mental illness come into Halloween? What part of the literal definition of both the modern day celebration of Halloween, and the original celebration of Samhain mentions mental illnesses being a part of Halloween? Oh wait, it doesn’t.

This type of behaviour promotes stigma to an excessive extent, including promoting the idea that we who suffer from mental illnesses are ‘violent, ‘crazy’, ‘psychos’. It is the typical stigma from the media that portrays the idea that serial killers, mass murderers, and any criminals are mentally ill; which is far from the truth. It demonises those who suffer from mental illnesses entirely. Simply put, it is offensive stereotyping.

However, that is not the only issue which can come from this type of behaviour. It desensitizes people to mental illness, self harm, and suicide; whilst making it seem as if it’s not a big deal at all. If you were to read the article Suicide: A Reflection on Society you will see that it is one of the biggest and potentially hazardous things that is occurring within the human race, it truly is an epidemic. By engaging in this sort of behaviour, you are putting lives at risk.

Not only does the issue lie with all of the above, but also with the friends and families of those who suffer from a mental illness or who have either committed or attempted suicide. No parent, sibling, friend, or relation of a mentally ill individual should have to witness others using such tragedies, horrific events, and debilitating illnesses as costumes and decoration to ‘celebrate’ and ‘have fun’ during Halloween; nor should the individuals who suffer from a mental illness.

Halloween is a frightening and distressing time for some of those who suffer from a mental illness and their relatives anyway, as there are many things which could trigger an individual to have an episode; without your costumes and decorations which mock them. For example, hanging fake bodies or tying nooses around trees clearly symbolises suicide, which can be a huge trigger to certain mentally ill individuals and their families; there is no point in doing this, you are merely causing distress for others.

The family members, friends, and relations of mentally ill individuals, as well as mentally ill individuals, who’s door you may accidentally knock on during Halloween whilst you’re wearing a costume which mocks them or their loved ones would be completely outrageous, and could end in a tragedy on either end of the parties involved.

There is not one single thing that is fun, comical, or enjoyable about mental illnesses. Our lives are already difficult enough, without the addition of all of this.

There are endless reasons that I could give for this type of behaviour being both wrong and disgusting, as well as being completely idiotic and disrespectful. Anyone I see whom is participating in this behaviour will certainly not be getting away with it, nor should they. Do not encourage or allow people you know to behave like this, and for the people who do, just know that I hate you.

World Mental Health Day

Every year, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. This day is dedicated to educating others, spreading awareness, and engaging in advocacy on mental health and the major impact that it can have on your life, and the lives of those around you.

There is a massive number of benefits to be gained through spreading awareness about mental health and mental illness, there are no drawbacks. Mental illness could affect you, your friends, your family, or anyone you know; therefore it is important to educate yourself within the realm of mental health, as you never know when you could need that knowledge. Not only does educating yourself help those around you, but it also helps to break down the stigma that is surrounding mental health.

Why Mental Health Awareness is Important

– According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) depression could be the global leading illness by 2030

– Globally, one in four people will suffer from mental or neurological disorders at some point within their lives

– There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness

– Depression affects around one in twelve of the whole population

– Around one in ten children will experience mental health problems

– Only 50% of those who go to an A&E department for self harm or suicidal thoughts and behaviour receive adequate treatment, the other 50% do not receive any form of a mental health assessment and are often left to their own accord

– Over one million people die by suicide every year

– Global suicide rates have increased by 60% in the last 45 years

Looking After your Mental Health

There are a few simple things you can do to help look after your mental health, these include:

– Engaging in exercise

– Eat well

– Talk about how you feel, do not internalise negative feelings

– Take a break

– Care for others

– Do not abuse substances

– Ask for help, it’s okay to not be okay

In short, engage in self care regularly and live a healthy lifestyle. This will not prevent you from becoming mentally ill, however, it will help to keep your mental health in a healthier state, whether you are mentally ill or not.

As a sufferer of schizoaffective disorder, I can relate to your suffering, and the suffering of others. However, recovery is possible. Sometimes, recovery can be a never ending journey, it can last a lifetime. Be there for others, help and support each other, we are all that have.

Schizophrenia Awareness Week

As some of you may or may not know, this week is schizophrenia awareness week. This provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness of schizophrenia and other schizo-spectrum disorders.

Schizophrenia is known to be the most misunderstood and stigmatized illness. There is stigma surrounding every aspect of the illness, and people may contribute to this stigma both directly and indirectly; merely through a lack of knowledge.

For example:

– NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) claim that 64% of people believe that a spilt personality is a symptom of schizophrenia

– A report from 1999 claims that 61% of US citizens believe that those with schizophrenia are likely to be violent towards others

– A report from The Working Foundation states that up to 70% of people suffering with the disorder will have experienced some form of discrimination

This cannot continue to go on, those who are mentally ill require help, not hatred.

Schizophrenia affects around 1 in 100 people, and typically becomes present during late adolescence or early adulthood. Although there is no known cure for schizophrenia, it can be treated and managed successfully through the use of different therapies, medication, or a combination of both. Those who are suffering from schizophrenia can live a happy and fulfilling life, however, this does not mean that it will be without its challenges. Living with schizophrenia can be extremely difficult at times, but that certainly does not mean that it is a life not worth living.

Awareness and the understanding of schizophrenia and schizo-spectrum disorder does need to be spread. There are many ways to educate yourselves and others which require very little amounts of your effort and your time. Please use this week to help spread awareness for those suffering from schizophrenia or any schizo-spectrum disorder. There are many ways which you can get involved, write posts and share articles about schizophrenia on your social media, write a blog post on schizophrenia awareness week if you run a blog, or simply tweet using the #szweek hashtag on Twitter.

An illness is an illness, no more, and no less. There is no need for the amount of stigma and misunderstanding to exist when we have constant access to the largest source of information on the planet, the internet. The information is available, and we should no longer turn the other cheek in ignorance.

 

Stigma within the Mental Health Community

I have gone over the issue of stigma a couple of times already, in fact, there is a whole section of my blog dedicated to it; that’s how big of an issue stigma really is. I’ve also wrote an article about the mental health community itself, and how wonderful of a place it can be. It truly does pain me to be in the position in which I have to write this article as it is simply the truth, which I have witnessed for myself. Not only does stigma hinder ones journey to recovery, it causes a great deal of harm which can lead to individuals committing suicide or harming themselves further. In no way is stigma beneficial to anyone on this planet, and those who do stigmatise others should be very ashamed of themselves. This is an issue that many of us within the mental health community are fighting, but there are also those within the mental health community who add to that stigma.

What brings me to this topic is the fact that although I have not experienced stigma within the mental health community myself, I have recently witnessed it happen amongst others within the mental health community. Not only has there been one incident with stigma within the mental health community that I have witnessed, unfortunately, there have been multiple incidents where this type of behaviour has occurred.

The area in which I’ve seen stigma occur within the mental health community, is typically between those whose illnesses do not cause them to experience psychosis, and those that do. It is important to remember that all forms of mental illness can and will be stigmatised against, whether it is right or wrong; however, those with a mental illness that do not experience psychosis have no right whatsoever in contributing to the stigma surrounding psychotic illnesses. I have one question for those who are suffering from a non-psychotic illness and are stigmatizing others, what makes your illness any better than theirs?

Both of the incidents that occurred in which non-psychotics were stigmatizing those who do experience psychosis, actually took place in a mental health hospital. Yes, these people had also been hospitalized for whatever reason, yet they were still bullying and stigmatizing those who experience psychosis whilst they are in recovery. The last place in which stigma should occur is within a hospital that is dedicated to mental health.

Thankfully, during both of these incidents there were other patients around which stepped in to not only diffuse the situation, but also to educate those who were bullying and stigmatizing others.

If you as a person within the mental health community have experienced stigma, if you have experienced the pain and suffering caused by stigma, why on Earth would you be willing to put someone through that? Not only is this a stigma issue, but it is also an issue of bullying; and bullying is a disgusting act in which no one benefits from, therefore this needs to stop.

I have never experienced stigma directly, especially not within this community; I do love this community and I can never be thankful enough for all that it has done for me, but I do know that stigmatizing and bullying others is going on with this community, and it needs to change. I am currently working with people who are struggling with this issue, and I am also working to fight against it. However, this won’t change unless we change and stop turning the other cheek. We should be educating and supporting each other, because if we can’t treat each other well within this community, then why should anyone else?

Suicide – A Reflection of Society

It deeply saddens me to say this, but lately I have noticed quite the increase in suicides or suicide attempts, in both communities that I’m involved with locally and globally, as well as those that I’m not involved with. This is not a personal issue, this is not a local issue, this is not a national issue, this is a global issue that could possibly affect us all. Not only does the suicide of an individual affect that individual, but it also affects those around them. Family, friends, and communities can be torn apart by suicide, and this is why it’s important to recognise suicide as the severe issue that it is. You may not be directly affected by suicide or mental illness, but that does not mean that it may not affect you one day, directly or indirectly.

Before I continue, I would like to provide evidence to support my statement. The following are the international suicide statistics:

  • Over one million people die by suicide every year
  • 8% of worldwide deaths are due to suicide
  • The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000
  • One person dies due to suicide every 40 seconds on average
  • Global suicide rates have increased by 60% in the last 45 years
  • Suicide attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than successful suicides
  • Mental health disorders are associated with 90% of all cases of suicide
  • Suicide rates amongst young people have increased to such an extent that they are now the age group at the highest risk of suicide in a third of all countries
  • Suicide rates amongst young people are increasing at the greatest rate

These statistics provide the insight to see that this really is a big problem, globally.

As the title of this article suggests, this is a reflection of society. This is a reflection of how people with mental illness are treated by society, how people with mental illness do not receive the care and support they need, how people with mental illness are killing themselves because they are afraid to get help because society portrays the view that mental illness is a blemish on society. The stigma surrounding mental illness needs to be eradicated, we need to educate people on mental health; it could affect anyone at any time, including ourselves or those around us, and we should all be in the position to say that we are at least somewhat prepared for it; as you can never be truly prepared or know what to expect with any form of mental illness, but having at least some knowledge of what to do if you are ever put in that situation is invaluable.

There are many issues within society that can lead to an individual to commit suicide, however, as these are issues, they can and should be resolved. One of the most common causes of suicides is bullying. The majority of schools will state that they enforce a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, as I only left school a few years ago, and I am still in contact with people who are currently in school, I can say that this is not true; I can say this as the fact that bullying still exists shows that they are clearly not doing enough to stop this extremely harmful behaviour. Not only does bullying exist within schools, it also exists online, outside of school, and even in the work place. Yes, adults can be bullied too. Bullying should no longer be swept under the carpet, it should not be tolerated in the slightest. This leads me on to how too many members of society are misinformed and stigmatized towards mental health. This stigma prevents those who need help from receiving it due to fear of being penalized, as well as leaving many people unaware that they are suffering from a mental illness because they do not seem to fit society’s stereotype of ‘crazy’. There are many people who refuse to believe that mental illness does indeed exist, this leads to parents or family members preventing their child or loved ones from receiving the necessary help and support as “it’s all just in your head, pull yourself together”. Many of these issues could be resolved by simply including mental health in the educational system. This way we could eradicate the stigma and misinformation that surrounds mental illness and move forward together as the human race.

This is not the type of behaviour society should encourage, we should embrace mental health with open arms and focus on what’s important such as recovery. The fact that the way of today’s society hinders that process, says it all.

Due to the way of the modern world, it is important to recognise the possible signs that an individual may portray when they are feeling suicidal or experiencing suicidal ideation. By recognising these signs, you have the power to prevent such things from occurring. However, it should be noted that not all people who are suicidal or those who have either attempted or committed suicide, will show these signs. If you do notice any of the following signs, it is crucial to approach the situation with love, care and understanding.

  • Talking or writing about death or suicide
  • Withdrawing and isolating themselves from friends or family
  • Appearing sad or depressed the majority of the time
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Exhibiting a change in personality
  • Acting recklessly or impulsively
  • Changes in both sleeping and eating habits
  • A loss of interest in most activities and hobbies
  • Feeling excessive guilt or shame
  • Writing a will

You should always take suicidal comments very seriously, a person who is suicidal needs immediate professional help. If the person is at high risk of committing suicide or harming themselves, call emergency services immediately. Whilst you wait for them to arrive, remain calm and keep conversation flowing. Let the person know that you are deeply concerned for their wellbeing, and show them that they have your support. Under no circumstances should a suicidal person be left on their own, only when they are receiving professional help you can consider leaving them.

It is perfectly okay, to not be okay. It’s perfectly okay to stand up and say you need help. Mental illness is just that, an illness. Every time I hear of an attempted or a successful suicide, it completely breaks my heart. We cannot continue to go on this way as a society, we cannot continue to go on this way as human beings. Suicide is never the answer, there is always help available, and we need to let these vulnerable people know that they can get the help they need and it will get better. You are not your mental illness, you have just as much of a right to be here is anyone else. We only get one shot at life, and for some that ends too soon.

We can change this, YOU can help change this. Let’s educate others about mental health, let’s stand up and tell our stories. There is no longer room for the stigma or misinformation that surrounds mental health in this world. Be the change you wish to see; and know that I will never stop fighting for you.

Why are People with Schizoaffective Disorder Impossible to Get On With? – Hold Up

After looking at demographics of my blogs traffic, I noticed that the most used search term which led people to my blog was “why are people with schizoaffective disorder impossible to get on with other people”. This angered me for a lot of reasons, the main one being that regardless of who you are, what type of person you are, and the things you’ve done, if you have schizoaffective disorder, you are apparently ‘impossible’ to get along with. Which is outrageous.

I have schizoaffective disorder, am I impossible to get along with? No. I have many friends with schizoaffective disorder, are they impossible to get along with? No. Some of the best people I have met on this planet have schizoaffective disorder, are they impossible to get along with? No.

Whether you suffer from a mental illness or not is not the basis of a friendship. I have both neurotypical and neurodivergent friends, as do many people, whether they know it or not. That’s another thing about mental illness, the majority of us hide it so well you would never know that we are mentally ill, so why does your ability to get along with us change once you find out we do have a mental illness? Stigma. That’s it.

When most people hear the word schizophrenic, schizoaffective, bipolar, or any other plethora of mental illnesses, they immediately react with fear. This fear is based on a lack of understanding and the stigma that surrounds mental illness that is constantly around us. If mental illness is mentioned within the media, it is most likely because a tragedy has occurred in which the perpetrator suffered from a mental illness, which the media will choose to blame.  If mental illness is mentioned within the media, it is most likely a film about a psychopathic killer in which the killer suffers from a mental illness. We rarely see any positivity about mental illness in the media or any other aspect of our lives, and this is where stigma comes from.

It is certainly a misconception that those who suffer from mental illness are violent, dangerous or any other negative adjective that you would like to choose. There are both good and bad individuals that suffer from a mental illness, that are both good and bad individuals that do not suffer from a mental illness.

Stigma provides a biased, incorrect view of mental health that influences an awful amount of people. It is important to educate people about mental health so these sort of beliefs and behaviour do not occur.

Your future best friend, soul mate, parent or any other member of your family could fall victim to a mental illness. This is not how you would want them to be treated, you do not want to miss on possibly the best friendships or relationships of your life because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Educate yourself, educate others. It should be perfectly acceptable to talk about mental health openly, mental illness is an illness, nothing more, nothing less. You do not get treated differently due to physical illness, you do not have people assume what type of person you are because of a physical illness, and people do not assume you are impossible to get along with because of a physical illness; stop treating people differently simply because they suffer from a mental illness. We are human, you are human, let’s act like it.

The Mental Health Community: Reach Out

I have wanted to write this article for quite some time as I really do believe that the mental health community has been of more support and help to myself than anything else, and it really does deserve to receive this recognition.

The mental health community is full of many wonderful people from a diverse range of backgrounds and lifestyles, collectively providing support across all areas of mental health. With more people speaking about mental health, we are able to eradicate stigma and help those who need it, as well as ourselves; which is the reason I became involved with the mental health community. I have never felt so welcomed or comfortable in any other community, as I have found that we all stick together and use our experiences to better ourselves and show others that there is hope out there, and that there is a better life. Supporting and helping others is without a doubt what saved me, and I’ll always be in debt to the mental health community for this, I owe these people my life, and that is why they will always have my time and support. The importance of this is that I’m not the only one who feels this way, the community is filled with people exactly like me, and that is why it’s such a wonderful place to be.

The mental health community is constantly supporting each other, even with our own struggles we continue to help others, in turn helping everyone within the community. I have never witnessed any negativity or cruelty within the community, I have only witnessed compassion, sensitivity, and kindness. Everyone within the mental health community is fighting to end stigma, which makes the mental health community a place that is stigma free. The mental health community is a place to reach out to others without the risk of being judged or penalized for your illness, you will receive no stigma here. The more people talk about mental health the more understanding can be gained, both within and out of the mental health community.

When reaching out to the mental health community, there are many magnificent campaigns to become involved with. These campaigns not only aim to provide help for each and every person they are trying to reach out to, but also to those within the campaigns. Two campaigns which I wholeheartedly support are #imnotashamed and #sicknotweak, both helped me dramatically; if you want to get involved with either, be sure to check them out on Twitter.

There are many bloggers within the mental health community, which is what sparked off some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever had, as well as allowing me to meet some of the best people I’ve ever met. Blogging is a great tool within mental health for many reasons which I will go over in another article some time, but from the perspective of the mental health community, bloggers can provide invaluable support with their experiences and their openness about them. You’ll also find that bloggers support bloggers, just like every other aspect within the mental health community, support is both given and received.

The mental health community truly is one big family. If you’re suffering alone, you no longer need to, we are here, and we are here for each and every one of you.

Coping with Mental Illness as a Young Person

Becoming mentally ill at any age is an extremely challenging journey, but in today’s world there are many more people beginning to suffer with mental illness at a young age. When mental illness occurs at such a crucial time in an individual’s life, it can cause a variety of problems and complications.

Once a child reaches adolescence, it is seen as the time where you start thinking about and working towards your future. The work you do at school becomes far more important, you begin to start summer jobs, puberty kicks in, and you begin to find yourself. Any form of mental illness can severely disrupt this process, causing problems in both the present and the future. Soon exams are to follow, and you start to think about which college you’re going to, or whether you’re ready to enter the real world and start a career. These can be very stressful times, without the addition of a mental illness.

A lot of the time, this is when a mental illness may begin to show. As a young person you already have more than enough to cope with, that being education, puberty, your home life, social life and work. As there is already so much going on within your life, the way you’re feeling may be put down to either puberty or stress, however this is not always the case. Dismissing the possibility of yourself suffering from mental illness can lead to a lot of issues in the future, as mental illness tends to get worse when left untreated. Too many young people are not educated about mental health, the subject may never have crossed their mind, therefore leaving them in the dark if they do fall victim to a mental illness. Even if a young person wants to get help, they may fear stigma from friends, family, their teachers and their employers. This can leave you feeling like there’s nowhere to turn to, or leave you feeling too scared to get help. This can lead to you internalizing your problems, which may work at first but they soon begin to resurface in your life. Another problem with coping with mental illness as a young person is the fact that now they are aware they are ill, they feel there is nothing left to live for and that they won’t get better, particularly if the illness is chronic.

However, this is not true. Whether you live with or without mental illness, there is a better way of life and it does start with you. Firstly, find yourself a good support network. This can include friends, family, psychiatrists, counsellors and teachers. There will always be people willing to listen to you and provide advice, or simply listen if that’s what you need. Having a good support network is extremely useful as you know you always have people looking out for you, plus it will also help to ensure that you are getting the support you need within education or the workplace. Getting professional help is the first step to recovery, you’ve accepted that you are ill, and now you’re beginning your journey to recovery. The help you get depends on what you want and need, unless you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, you will be the person choosing which services you use and which methods you use to reach recovery, whether that be through different types of therapy, medication, counselling or a combination of those treatments. The next step is to find coping methods that work for you, these can be things such as hobbies and keeping yourself busy, or using things such as art and writing to express the way you’re feeling. It’s also important to make sure you have some relaxing time for yourself, whether that be for reading, meditating, or whatever you choose. Becoming involved within the mental health community is without a doubt one of my favourite coping methods. There are people out there that will understand and support you in any way that they can, and you can do the same for others. For me, helping others has let me see that there is still so much to live for, it has let me see the beauty of this world, and the beauty and kindness of other people.

The road to recovery can be a long one, and it is very different for each individual, but things truly do get easier with time, and recovery is very much possible. Your life is worth living, simply because you’re you.