Milonga

Talking About Mental Illness Must Be Normalised

7 May 17 words: Ben Lomas

Student Ben Lomas, 20, has lived with anxiety and depression since he was a child. We caught up with him in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week to talk about his own experience with mental health, in the hopes that it will encourage others to open up themselves.  

I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I remember, so I suppose there was never really one specific time when I felt like things weren’t ‘right’. It was more down to my mum realising I was a lot sadder than other kids; if she didn’t I’d likely just think it was pretty normal to feel like this. I’m lucky I was able to talk to her about it as a kid.

I’ve had a few counselling sessions but that never really amounted to much, and then within the past two years I’ve tried out various medications. Now I’m on the waiting list for some CBT, which I’m excited for, though I have to wait a long time. I’ve never really had something I’d describe as an effective treatment, though the anti-depressants I recently started seem promising; and I’ve heard some good stuff about CBT.

I like to meditate and do yoga to help calm me down and organize my thoughts, and going to the gym helps too. I also find it helpful to read, especially before bed; though sometimes I find my attention is a bit fractured if I’m feeling anxious. I talk with my friends about it a lot now, I suppose it’s something I have in common with a lot of them.

I think mental health is definitely stigmatised for everyone, but in our misogynistic culture, men are unfortunately taught that having feelings is feminine and thus something to be ashamed of. Between speaking to my mum as a young child, and seeing a GP at eighteen, I barely spoke to anyone about it.

Talking about mental illness must be normalised. Even outside of seeking treatment, just talking openly and honestly about this kind of stuff with friends is cathartic and lovely. I’m constantly surprised at how many people I share similar experiences with; it’s always comforting to hear someone else talk about feelings you weren’t sure that other people had.

Ben’s Advice:
Really try not to deal with it on your own. Whether you speak to friends, family, or a counsellor, it is imperative not to struggle alone.  

If you, or anyone you know, are struggling with your mental health, there are people that can help. You can freephone the Samaritans, any time, on 116 123.

The Samaritans website

Nottingham Insight Healthcare website

Mind website

CALM website

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