I was saddened to hear of Sally Brampton’s untimely death after a long battle with depression. She was 60, the same age as me. From my own experiences of depression, I know a little of how things must have been for her. My heart goes out to all who loved her. May she rest in peace.
Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week.
For those who are struggling, I say this. Mental illnesses mess with your head. They make you believe bad things about yourself. That there is nothing wrong with you other than laziness, moral cowardice, being hateful and lacking what it takes to lead a normal life. That you are not worthy of help. And that you must face this awful, isolating thing alone.
But struggling on alone is not a good idea. Nor is pretending to be OK when you are not. I know this from my own past, effective but wrong-headed attempts to keep how I was feeling to myself. In the end, keeping secrets just causes more damage. It can be really bad for you and those you care about.
If you are overwhelmed by negative or frightening thoughts, if life feels grim or even just pointless, please, please ask for help.
- Talk to a friend or someone else that you trust.
- Make an appointment to see your GP.
- Check out the Grassroots Suicide Prevention StayAlive app – available free to download to iPhones and Androids.
- Phone Samaritans on 116 123 or one of the other helplines.
If you don’t know what to say at first, or feel embarrassed or tongue-tied, it doesn’t matter. If you are afraid that the words won’t come, try writing it down.
Social media has been a massive help to me. I have made friends online who always seem to be there. They have been to those evil places. Not the same as mine, because we are all different, but their own terrifying versions. They know how lonely it feels.
Contrary to what you may hear, there are wonderful services available and treatments – medicines, many different sorts of therapy and other practical techniques – that work for most people. It can take time to find the right ones, of course. And it will take a lot of courage and effort on your part. There are no miracle cures. But I promise you, seeking help really is worth it.
Believe me, you are not alone.