I am not weak.

It’s obvious that there’s a huge stigma around mental illness in the UK. Personally, I think it’s improved considerably, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

When I first started this blog, I felt notably anxious about letting my ‘vulnerabilities’ show. I’ve always been the kind of person that’s embarrassed to cry in front of people. Go on – picture me running out of various ex-boyfriends’ bedrooms with my hands covering my reddening face yelling “NO NO NO NO”, whilst blinking manically to force the tears back into my skull, because it’s bloody well happened. MULTIPLE TIMES. I feel like I should apologise every time I cry. I used to deal with my emotions unhealthily by subconsciously converting my sadness into anger. I’ve refused to let people who have hurt me know that they’ve hurt me because then they would’ve managed to crack the hard, British exoskeleton that society has placed around my soft, squishy body. My immediate family members are the only people who ever see my raw emotions. I get home to my front door and I hang up my jagged exoskeleton before I walk into my lounge. WHY ARE WE ALL WEARING EXOSKELETONS????

When I see the people I love crying, I never ever feel embarrassed and I certainly never expect a bloody apology – so why should I burden myself with shame and guilt for having emotions? I realised that I was treating myself with completely double standards.

My blog has helped me to challenge the ideas that I’ve had in the past. I’ve come to learn that if anybody is judging me negatively for what I’ve written, then that’s their problem and – to be frank – I really couldn’t give a flying f**k. 

When I was younger, I (as many probably did and perhaps still do) would read about an individual’s experience with mental illness and feel sorry for them. Not in a demeaning or patronising way – but in a very personal and raw way. But since personally experiencing depression and OCD, my mindset has changed completely. Now, when I read individual’s blog posts and books and honest social media posts, I see these people as so incredibly strong. They’re strong because of what they’ve been forced to face, they’re strong in the ways in which they’ve coped, and they’re strong for sharing their experience, because opening up about mental health can be really f***ing scary. The driving emotion for me when people talk about mental illness is no longer pity, but admiration.

I think that the overall attitude towards people with mental health is changing for the better. Of course there will always be judgement, discrimination, and misinformation, but when I see how normalised discussions about mental health have become among my peers it makes me feel incredibly proud of humans in general. The fact that many young people will sit in a pub and casually discuss their depression with their mates without a second thought over a beer makes me feel a shiny, golden feeling in my soul that I can’t quite explain.

Empathy is innate and it’s a beautiful thing – it’s what takes the edge off of our hard, human exteriors. I’m absolutely not saying people shouldn’t feel empathy towards others – I’m just saying that sadness shouldn’t necessarily be the overwhelming reaction to somebody telling you they struggle with their mental health. Admiration should.

Some people might read my posts and feel sympathy towards me, but I want to convey the fact that I am incredibly strong because of the experiences I’ve had. The ‘vulnerabilities’ that I worried about exposing when I started this blog soon became my strengths and my emotional battle scars. They’ve thickened my skin and furthered my empathy in a way that’s pushed me to help others and to start being kinder to myself. Of ruddy course I have my moments of surrender where I just need to curl up in my Mum and Dad’s arms, or where I accidentally demolish three Easter eggs in one go whilst crying manically and listening to the Game of Thrones soundtrack (just a vague example), but these moments of darkness don’t change the fact that I’m capable and mighty. Let’s stop victimising people with mental health issues and start realising how strong and robust they are. Let’s celebrate this new era that we’re entering where mental health is no longer a taboo subject. Let’s all let ourselves cry without judgment to the bloody Game of Thrones soundtrack.

We are tenacious, capable badasses and I just wanted to remind anyone who might have forgotten or may not be feeling it in this moment.

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