My experiences with depression and anxiety
My name is Logan Unwin and I suffer with depression and anxiety.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, I want share a wee bit about my experiences in the hope that someone, somewhere reads it and knows they are not alone.
It still feels strange to write that I have struggles with my mental health. For so long, I thought this meant I was a failure. I thought I had failed at being a man. I didn’t believe that it was okay to cry - so I wouldn’t. Instead, I found myself boiling with anger and frustration at the world and those closest to me.
Talking about mental health was something I could never have imagined doing - let alone talking about my own struggles. But here I am, talking about it today.
It took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t okay. If ever I was sad, I would always tell myself to grow up, that people had it so much worse than me. In reality this was my way of avoiding my feelings.
Avoidance is a strategy that I hear so many other people talking about when they are sharing their stories and I think we can all agree that in the long term it does not work - it never has.
I felt forced to talk about my mental health in the beginning. I shared some of my thoughts and feelings caused by my depression with someone I thought was my friend. Unfortunately, this person decided to create a group chat with some other people who were in my year at school, to try and shame me with my feelings.
They would call things like an attention seeker, a liar. I was humiliated. This encounter left me feeling well and truly ashamed. After that, I didn’t believe I’d ever utter a word to anyone ever again about how I may be feeling, due to fear others would react in the same way.
I sometimes still worry now when I speak about my mental health that something similar will happen again, even though I know it won’t.
When a member of staff at my school caught wind of this chat and the feelings I was experiencing, they came to me and spoke to me about it.
I was given me the chance to be honest and to get help, which is what I did. Despite this initial conversation and then going to the doctors to unpick my feelings being the hardest and scariest thing I’ve ever done, I honestly believe it saved my life.
I slowly started to challenge the stigma I had built up in my mind surrounding mental health and realised I wasn’t worthless, I just needed help.
As a society we need to get better at talking, as well as listening - really listening. Take the time to have a conversation with your family and your friends. Ask them how they are feeling, or how their day was. Sometimes that small interaction can mean everything to someone feeling lonely.
It is also important that we take time to look after ourselves. Everyone gets so caught up in life, sometimes we forget to breathe. Self-love is vital to improving our mental health.
I still have my bad days, but thankfully, now I have a lot more good ones.
Today I am reminded that there is so much more love and support out there, than negativity and hate.
To me, that is something we all must know and remember.
It is okay not to be okay. It is okay to ask for help.