Mental health was always something someone else ‘got’.
I was under the impression that I or my family or my immediate friends were immune to depression or anxiety or feeling worthless or out of control. We just ‘got on with it’.
When I had a panic attack on the tube I felt a fool. I didn’t tell anyone but my girlfriend because I was anxious about how that made me look. I would look out of control.
When people I knew confided in me about themselves or friends feelings, I was sympathetic but ultimately dismissive. ‘Go for a run’. ‘Take up yoga, it really helps’.
As a human being, most things I can’t empathise with until something really happens to me (I try to work on this). Like, '11 rounds with AJ' happens.
Now, I look back and see that I was never impervious to any of it. My family had an old British way of dealing with things. Pull up your socks, get on with it. Ultimately, that made things worse. Communication is the best healer. Mix that with time and you have a pretty powerful tonic.
News of Aaron Lennon today hit me harder than I thought it would, even though I tried not make it about me, I hope Aaron gets through this part of his life and makes a full and healthy recovery. ‘...receiving care and treatment for a stress-related illness’. There was a time where this sentence would’ve rung hollow. But now, I fully empathise with it. It's part of this journey.
Being stressed doesn’t mean you are out of control or you are bad at life or work, or you are weak. It means you are human. Sometimes it’s ok to feel adrift or trapped. And it’s ok to ask for help. When that realisation drips down into your mind, that - for me at least - is the moment you see the dawn. Maybe that's why I am writing this. Not as any form of cry for help, but as part of my tonic.
I'm working on a lot of things, but realising I have a mental health as well as a physical health is now a priority.