As part of our Mind Your Mind Mental Health Campaign we will be submitting stories that you send in to us about your experiences with mental health. We hope that this will help to destigmatise mental health and increase conversation.
If you would like to submit a story you can do so anonymously by following the link below:
For now, have a read of this week’s story:
I didn’t realize I had mental health issues until this year.
1st of Jan rolls around and I’m a mess. I can’t stop crying in the bathroom, whilst holding a good face as soon as I open my bedroom door. I remember one whole night where my emotions felt like a sea of ebbing and flowing emotions. I would sit and cry, whilst the negative thoughts, tears and pain just. Wouldnt. Stop. I kept blaming it on my hormones – but no. This was actually a panic attack.
Only after reflection do I realise that this has been happening for some years. I lock myself in the bathroom and do not want to look in the mirror, for fear of hating myself more. I’ll cry from anger, wondering what’s wrong with me when I find myself in social situations, clenching my fists to abate the anxiety, or not being able to force a smile when I can’t think straight; I’ll beat myself up and say, why am I like this? Why am i different – why can’t I be like everyone else?
We aren’t taught from a young age to spot the signs. And if we do see them – it’s branded as ‘abnormal’ or ‘a phase’. That’s the first pitfall (which I hope, In Sha Allah, we can start to overcome with the next generation). Up until now, there had been a distinctive barrier between my personal, and professional life. Work was work – life was life. It was only when the holidays were over and work re-started, that the barrier began to melt and one thing snowballed into another until I’d be coming home past midnight because I didn’t want to cry into a towel at 1am, even though that’s what I would end up doing nonetheless. And it’s funny, because at the time, there was no one at home to see me cry, yet I’d lock myself in the bathroom anyway. It’s some kind of delusional self-contempt that has built up over the years that makes me so ashamed to even look in the mirror.
Stigma comes from the outside but we don’t realise that it also plants a seed within our self, spawning off of negative feelings and growing self hatred inside. It took me a few weeks of recognising the perpetually negative cycle I was torturing myself with – I wanted to talk to someone, but I just couldn’t – not because there was no one there for me, but because I was just so ashamed of myself, for having failed at having something that, culturally speaking, does not exist.
I’m learning to deal with it, and the first step was to tell myself that stigma is just a cultural ignorance which has to be pushed aside. Your health always comes first. For those of you struggling like I am – know that you have support. Even if it’s not from the people you’d want, or the people you’d think – there’s always someone there. Just bite the bullet and go tell someone, whether that’s night-line, Samaritans, Uni counsellors, chaplains or someone you know.
Know that your problems are valid.
Know that crying is cathartic and exists for a reason.
Know that your health is more important than anything, mental and physical.
“Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear.”
As a dear friend reminded me; to get you through the times when you have lost self confidence – know that Allah hasn’t. Support won’t fix your problems, or make them go away – but it will, eventually, help you to cope so that you can peacefully live with yourself, In Sha Allah. You just have to take the first step.