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Acceptance and Understanding

Charlotte Underwood: Guest Blogger

There is a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health and recovery. Many people seem to think that you either never get better or ‘it’s just a phase’. This is so far from the truth. As corny as it sounds, I would describe my own recovery as a huge, bumpy roller-coaster. There is no straightforward track that I can glide along. Some days are really good and others are really bad. That’s just reality.

 

Each day I need to work really hard on my wellbeing, just so that I can keep my head above water and avoid a relapse. It’s scary to think that if I just stop and give up, a lot of my progress will all be for nothing. I’ve been there before. That’s not to say that you fail if you fall down. It’s a learning process and the important thing is that you keep standing up and fighting. However, you can’t expect to dedicate one week of your life to ‘mind, body and soul’ and expect to be cured. The truth is that, as of yet, there is no cure for mental illness but it is not a death sentence either.

 

I was once told that everyone has mental health - we just all deal with it differently and I think we need to hear that sometimes. I was also told that behaviour or thoughts that we may self-diagnose as mental illness, perhaps are just a part of us and it’s okay not to be society’s idea of ‘perfect’.

 

I dedicate all my time now to helping others through writing and sharing my story. I spent the most part of a decade ignoring my mental health and living in denial. This only made me very angry because I was suffering more from having no healthy outlet. Writing has allowed me to learn about who I am. I can understand my thoughts and piece the puzzles of my mind together. When we say our thoughts out loud or see them on paper, they seem less scary and we can make sense of them. Needless to say, writing is my therapy.

 

Being a mental health advocate has also helped me in so many ways. We all need someone to listen to us and understand. Although the goal is to provide support or friendship to those in need, or a shoulder to cry on - we all need someone to listen to us and understand - it seems that it’s become so much more. I have found a purpose and a community. It helps me to remember that I am not alone and that I should not be ashamed of my mental illness. No one should.

 

At the end of the day, stigma is just an opinion - a label - and when you think of it like that, you realize that options aren’t always the truth. There is no shame in having a mental illness but there is shame in judging mental illness.

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