How Did We Get So Dark? Why Is Mental Health Still Stigmatised So Negatively?

To answer the question from Royal Blood’s new album, How Did We Get So Dark? I would say growing up into an adult in a world run by out of touch politicians and populated by people that all need support more than ever in this bleak, lonely world, we all somehow manage to push eachother away and remain ignorant to how other people feel. Seventeen years into the 21st century, we still have prejudice, ancient values for how we should live our lives and labels ruling a society I don’t want to be a part of anymore. 

Mental health in young people is only recently becoming a wider-known priority among the media and the government. And it is no where near enough and much too late to those of us that suffer in silence from mental health conditions. I am bordering on 19 now and I have had six sessions with a counsellor and an evaluation with my GP and hospital. Not a single person picked up on my depression for three years until I made a post on social media. I have always had to tell people how I feel, I have never been asked ‘what’s up’ and no one has ever asked why I spend most of my time alone. I just get labelled antisocial, lazy and a synical teenager when really no one bothers to look deeper at the reason why feel this way.

For me, depression has become another label for me now, although most people seem to have no clue how to handle that label and I am fitting into that stereotype more and more, hell I even have a blog now! And barely anyone has handled my depression well, apart from perhaps a few friends I know from university. Many people think I am being melodramatic or attention seeking, some people avoid me and others manage to turn my depression into an issue for them. My ex compared my depression to hers and told me I was less important and my feelings were not that bad. I had a friend say to me not to bring it up because he doesn’t want to hear it and think of me feeling this way. The thing is, mental health should be discussed, we need to open up because holding it all in only leads to a path of self destruction. Wearing a mask is killing the person behind it. Faking a smile kills me. I have seen and experienced what mental health does to a person and holding in emotion can lead you to bad decisions and self-depreciation to the point where loneliness is all that you know and you push everyone around you away.

Talking about mental health is one thing, but we also need to handle it better when someone opens up to us. After all, every single one of us is human and we all have a dark side. You would hate for someone to walk out of your life because of one little thing about you in the grand scheme of things. At the end of the day, you are still the friend, brother or sister, parent or colleague everyone has come to know you as. Knowing that some days we find it a little harder to get through should be something everyone can accept and support you in. For me, 90% of the reaction to my depression has been the exact opposite and it only makes me feel worse. On one hand that tells me who my real friends are but on the other hand, it tells me how little people care about me. And I have had to accept that and it has been one of the hardest things for me to overcome. I talk to one person everyday because no one else wants to have me in their life, no one’s life includes me but that one person. Some people would not be able to cope with that reaction to their mental health and that would be a waste of a good life; I almost didn’t make it this far.

If someone ever opens up to you about their mental health, for crying out loud do not change yourself around them all of a sudden because it is obvious when someone changes or acts fake around you. Just be yourself around that person like you normally are and that will help give a sense of stability and understanding to them. Being yourself certainly helped me with the few that stuck around.

So please, we need to take mental health much more seriously. We may have all heard the statistic that 1/4 people on this big blue marble has depression. I didn’t accept that I was one of them for a long while because I didn’t really know what depression was and really it should be something that we can accept, help with and feel comfortable opening up about because we should all understand that everyone is differentand has their own needs. Some of us feel a little bit darker now and then but there are good days too. Let’s improve this stigma, turn the negativity to positivity around mental health to make it easier for those of us that struggle.

Much love from your friend,

Alex.

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