I’ve been to that dark place – that place where you feel there is no more hope, that place that feels so empty, that place where you feel like you are standing in the middle of a crowded room screaming but not one single person can hear you.
The problem with that place is no one else can see it. No one else can see the prison you are living in so they just assume that you are a bit distant, that you’ve dropped of the radar or that you are a bit flakey as you cancel plans all the time. They can’t see you sitting on the floor hyperventilating as you worry about going out the door. They can’t see you physically shaking with fear as depression and anxiety go to town on your low self esteem, non existent confidence and make merry with every single negative thought you’ve ever had about yourself.
It’s not like breaking a leg, getting the flu or a chest infection. You can’t get physio or antibiotics for this – there are tablets you can take and treatments you can have but you’ll always live in fear that it’ll come and take over your life at any given moment. Because that’s the thing – you never know when it will go from being a sleeping dog to a snarling, biting, growling terrifying dog determined to decimate you.
So don’t expect to be able to identify people who have mental health issues. They could be the person at the pub who always laughs, jokes and appears to be the life and soul of the party – just because that is how they present themselves that doesn’t mean they weren’t shaking with fear before they stepped out the front door.
Be kind to people. Be kind to yourself and if you are one of those people who has also stood at the edge of despair please know that I and so many others are here for you. We will catch you when you feel like falling – we are a silent community but together we are strong. Please don’t let it get the better of you – know that while there is a dark pit in front of you there are people behind you holding ladders ready to help you out.
If you feel like it is too much please call the Samaritans on 116 123, Childline on 0800 11111 or PAPYRUS on 0800 068 4141. People want to help, people want to give you support but you have to ask for it. You have to be strong and recognise you need the help.