headspace | support network for better mental health

Hey hey heyyy… Here is this month instalment of the mental health series. I think I should name the instalments so it’d be easier for people to find them, because if you’re a keen reader of this space, you’d know that sometimes I write about…absolute rubbish. 🤣

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Mental illness can seem a lonely place to be. Often, it is hard to see through the fog to find our support network and there are times that one does not even exist. Without a hand to hold, it can seem like a daunting road to walk down, but even the smallest of communities behind you can make recovery that little bit easier.

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I truly believe in the importance of a support network in tackling mental health issues. Throughout my journey in recovery so far, I have gone through periods where I had next to no one beside me, and the future consequently seemed dark. Without a network of friends and loved ones who understood and emphatised with my struggles, real recovery seemed an impossible feat because the idea of fighting my battles alone felt overwhelming.

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Recently, I have put a lot of energy into shrinking my inner circle and strengthening my support structure. This has been pivotal in my healing as I now have a group of people around me who truly understand my needs and support me in my journey to wellness and, in turn, I always aim to be there in my best capacity for them in their hardships. That being said, I however understand that finding these support networks can be difficult, particularly if you are experiencing a period of crisis. At our lowest points, even taking basic care of ourselves can be too much, so to seek out connections and support from others can be a huge ask.

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These groups do not have to be formally organised or made up of official bodies or charities. They can simply be a couple of friends grabbing a coffee and giving each other permission to candidly speak in a safe space about their struggles. And that being said, here’s a wee bit of disclaimer — these support groups do not replace mental health professionals. I’ll talk more about my experience on this in another entry, but know that I am a strong supporter of finding and meeting the right psychiatrist if you feel that your symptoms are severe.

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Anywho, too often, people are afraid to speak up about mental illness because of the stigma and fear of judgements and discrimination. For the longest time, I told nobody about my anxiety symptoms because I was afraid of the prejudice and all to aware of the taboo nature of mental health. It didn’t help that the person I first opened up to about my mental health wasn’t being too supportive of me. But I believe that if we can open up spaces where everybody can talk candidly and freely about mental illness, the society will take a huge leap forward in fighting the stigmas telling us emotions should be bottled up, our burdens should be our own, and mental health problems should be kept secret because there is something shameful about the struggle.

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Though not everyone is in a position to be so boldly candid about mental illness, I believe that through these communities of people who support each other at their lowest, we can get to a point where it is okay to be open, okay to struggle, and okay to experience mental health problems. I believe we must all strive to be kind, to be a sympathetic ear, a non-judgemental shoulder to cry on, a loving hand to hold, and support one another in our struggles. This is how we can start to forge a stigma-free society for mental illness.

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