This week was the first time I experienced collaborating with other volunteers at one of the busiest train stations in London, to raise mental awareness amongst passengers and staff.
It was an inspirational time, speaking to different people, from all levels of society with diverse needs for themselves or their families. It felt like they were starved of the much-needed information that we had.
A mental health illness does not discriminate against age, gender, race, or class, it is said that 1 in 4 people suffer from anxiety or depression.
There are many people in denial refusing to believe that they have a mental health issue, as they fear being labelled. They feel it will lower their opportunities of succeeding in life.
A few years ago, a friend of mine refused to accept her diagnosis because of the fear of social services taking her children away.
In the olden days people who were suffering from a psychological disorder would be locked up in a lunatic asylum until they died.
As you may imagine, throughout history asylums had inpatients in overcrowded rooms, bad hygiene conditions and many suffered inhumanely as the treatments were harsh and unethical.
Today people still have that fear of being sectioned and losing their independence. People believed that once you are sectioned you will never be able to live a stable life on the outside.
However, we have proof today that we do get discharged and have our independence back providing we are willing to engage with our community mental health teams. Therapy and medications can help us to manage our lives.
The only way you are guaranteed to stay in hospital is if you become a danger to yourself or others.
I found that being institutionalised, even for an brief stay, made it harder to confidently go back into society. I became frightened of crowded streets and would have panic attacks and suffer with paranoid delusions.
“I am left with a feeling that I do not want to be around people for long lengths of time as I get very annoyed and irritated. Although I am not a recluse I do like to socialise if only for a few hours at a time. I prefer my quiet time in my home.”
I lack concentration and feel overwhelmed by people who over talk in detail rather than get straight to the point. I am not someone who can sit in one place for great lengths of time I like to keep myself busy.
“Personally, I feel that my brief stay in a psychiatric hospital was not an unpleasant experience. I had my own room. The staff respected me even when I refused the medication, they offered me when I first entered the ward. Not that I would want to return there it is a very lonely place to be especially when you are lacking your home comforts.”
When I have my relapses, I find that I much preferred going to Day Hospital as I could be in the comfort of my home in the evening. I did not have to put up with any unnecessary noise or drama.
It is important to always be honest about your feelings and emotions as you can share them with others who are going through similar struggles.
It is also important to know that you are allowed to have these feelings of hopelessness and helplessness as you are human, and your body is telling you that it needs to take time out.
A lot of people believe that they have dealt with their past traumas only to realise that it has been the reason they have not lived their lives to the fullest. By ignoring those niggling intrusive thoughts, they are preventing themselves from healing.
There are many kinds of therapies that can help you through the healing process.
Eventually, hiding away from your problems is only going to destroy you!! It is better to face them and help yourself to accept, forgive and move on.
The truth is you will never forget the negative impact your trauma has on you but with the right therapy and techniques you will have the tools to manage it better.
Mental Awareness Day is a daily task for me, and many sufferers, I use my experience and all that I have studied and been taught in therapy to help support others on their journey.
In everything there must be a balance.
Natalie Bleau The Scripture of Balance.