Big boys don’t cry…?

Tonight I’ve read about the lead singer of Linkin Park committing suicide. It made me so sad to think that there are still so many people who lose their battle with mental illness. It troubled me so I went on www.mentalhealth.org to look at some statistics…


  • In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

  • In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.

  • 10% of mothers and 6% of fathers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time.

  • One in five (19.1%) women had CMD symptoms, compared with one in eight men (12.2%).


So the statistics are telling me that more women will suffer with mental illness than men, but more men will die by their own hand because of it.

This deeply saddens me as I do believe, if there wasn’t so much stigma about mental illness, more people would seek help.


This also highlights a huge gender inequality issue that our society has. Now there are sooo many but let’s address one for a minute…


Little girls are brought up to be beautiful princesses and little boys are brought up to be big strong men.


Men are told they can’t cry, that if they cry they are weak. Men are brought up to not wear their heart on their sleeve, to be strong and brave.


Manly

Adjective:

having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage, strength, and spirit.


This my friends is complete and utter BULLSHIT. Mental illness is mental illness, it is not weakness. It is especially not specific to women, as those handy statistics prove. Regardless of mental illness, any person, no matter their gender, should be able to show as much or as little emotion as they want.


I’m not much of a cryer myself, don’t get me wrong, I cry, and not just because of depression – season 11 finale of Grey’s Anatomy, I cried for like a solid hour. Real ugly face, hyperventilating crying – I’m not even ashamed, that shit was sad!!! Usually though, I’m not really a cryer. My best friend on the other hand – now she’s a cryer, like aaalll the time! (Love you mate, you big cryer you!).


We all show our emotions differently, but we should all be able to seek help if we are struggling. If a man broke his arm and his bone was sticking out of the skin, I don’t care how ‘manly’ he is, he can’t just shake it off and push through it. He needs professional help to fix that shit! So if a man’s brain doesn’t produce the correct chemicals and causes him to feel overwhelming sadness, emptiness and make him want to kill himself… what makes you think that it’s not ok to seek professional help for that?


Sometimes we all need a little bit of help in life. As children, we need our parents or guardians to teach us how to talk, walk, use a toilet. We need our school teachers to educate us. We need doctors and dentists for all our physical ailments. And sometimes we need doctors, counsellors, family, or friends to help us with our mental ailments. There is no shame in asking for help, nobody should feel that they have to suffer alone. Men, women, gender neutral, children – ANYONE – should be able to ask for help, without being shamed for it.


Mental illness is not weakness. It is not something to be ashamed of. You never have to deal with it alone.


To anyone suffering in silence, speak up, be heard, be free from stigma and get the help you deserve. Talk to a friend or family member, talk to a doctor, call a helpline, don’t get to the point that you feel your only way out is death.


Much love to all, especially my fellow mental illness warriors! We are not alone.

Invisible Illnesses 

Welcome to my house…

I live with my momma, I moved back home so I could save to buy a house. Shortly after I moved in, she got ill and I became her carer. I will eventually buy my house and move back out, before that happens though, we will make sure she can cope without me (plus I most likely won’t move far, so I can always be on hand if she needs me).

My house is full of invisible illnesses. My depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Then my momma, she has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and undifferentiated connective tissue disease. Along with those are other illnesses that go hand in hand with them, one of which is depression (because we didn’t have enough of that in the house with just me).

I feel that these things have opened my eyes so much. Especially the last few months as I have been on my recovery journey. There is so much uncertainty and a lack of education about invisible illnesses. If I had £1 for every time someone said to my mum or me “but you don’t look ill” I’d be much closer to buying my house! It’s almost like people expect you to prove how ill you are, people don’t believe what they can’t see.


That’s the funny thing about invisible illnesses… they are INVISIBLE. It’s only over the last few months that I mostly don’t hide my depression, I tell people I feel anxious or if I’m having a panic attack and need to leave. It’s helped me to gain understanding from people – not all people but most. I am also very open about my mum’s illness. Some days she looks fine, that’s where the “but you don’t look ill” statement comes in. She will always be in pain though, some days she can cope with it better, other days the pain is too much and she can’t get out of bed.


My mum doesn’t talk too much about her illness, people want to believe that she is better so on the lower pain days, she lets them think that. I know my mum better than anyone though, that happens when you live and care for someone. I can hear the pain in her voice or see it in her eyes, she doesn’t need to tell me how bad it is, I already know.


Between me and my mum, plus other members of my family with depression, I’ve learnt a lot. I have learned the age old saying of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. To the outside world we may seem anti social or unreliable at times. Our illnesses are as unpredictable as they are invisible, so we make loose plans knowing that we may cancel last minute. I’ve learnt to be less judgemental and to be kind, you never know what battle someone is fighting. I’ve learnt how important self care is. I’ve learnt that sometimes the things people take for granted are the most important. I’ve learnt to be grateful for every good day. I am so grateful for the days that my mum is in less pain. I am grateful for the days when neither of us are sad or anxious and we can enjoy it. I am grateful for all the people that understand and support us or anyone with an invisible illness.


The biggest thing that has helped me, is being open about my struggle. I tell my mum all the time, how can we expect those people who don’t have it to understand if we don’t tell them? I would never wish our struggles on anyone, battling your own body and mind every day sucks. I do wish that more people would understand though. I don’t tell people for sympathy, or even for them to try and fix it. I tell people because the more people understand, maybe the kinder people will be to others. Maybe those with invisible illnesses won’t always be questioned and feel like they need to hide to be normal. Maybe people will realise, there is no normal, no perfect. Maybe people will realise that with a little understanding, they could bring light to an otherwise dark day.

*** A note to my beautiful momma:

I asked your permission before I posted this and you read it for me first. You told me how grateful you are for me and what I do for you, you also told me how guilty you feel that I ‘have to’ look after you.

I will tell you here what I always tell you – I love you, you gave me life. You helped make me the person I am today. You are my rock and I am yours. We are a team and no matter how much I ‘have to’ care for you, I could never EVER repay you for everything you have ever given to me.