I can't be happy

How many times have you heard someone say to you to "just be happy" or to "cheer up" and yet it feels like an impossibility? I know we all have down days; when we feel sad and tired and times when little words of encouragement and doing what we love can make us feel a whole lot better. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

There have been so many occasions where people have said to me, to "just think positively, when you do that your whole mindset will turn around." As much as I tried, I just couldn't think positively. I just couldn't change my life around. Thus, when someone says to you to just be happy, some people just feel they can't. It's not through a lack of trying that people feel this way. After all, who would want to be in darkness for their whole life?

Depression is something that many people describe as a black hole which can't be climbed out of, a weight on a sunny day, when everything is going well in life, but yet you cannot get out of bed in the morning.

Depression takes away the ability to do what you love. It is a real illness, which many scientists believe is based upon a chemical imbalance. Depression can physically stop you from doing things. You can begin to eat more or less, becoming more tired and angry, or struggle to sleep. You can lose interests in the things you once loved. You can lose concentration and have suicidal thoughts. From the inside the person may feel utterly hopeless and doesn't want to talk to anyone or do anything. They will be in turmoil. A complete lack of lust for life. This isn't ignorance, this is just the sheer lack of capability to face anything without feeling like you're going to explode.

For many on the outside and who have never experienced depression, I can understand how it is difficult to accept why people just can't do things. But, even if you don't understand it's important to be patient and to be there for the person. The worst thing you can do is be confrontational towards them as this just makes it worse and pushes the person further into the darkness than need be. Often when you're depressed you feel isolated and alone, and you need to just be there to look after them until they feel ready to face the world again.

Depression is a serious illness and needs to be regarded with importance. Please don't brush it aside. Don't forget to get professional help if you or someone you know is really struggling. You've got this.

Best wishes,

The end?

What a difficult few years it's been, but I can proudly say that I've gotten into university to study Law; which has been my lifelong ambition.

If you have read my blog post about my struggles with school, you'll know that I've missed around a year of my A-levels. But, I was still extremely determined to get the grades in order to get to university. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten into my first choice university as I didn't get the grades and they weren't going to give any leeway either. And as much as I wanted to go to that uni (a lot!) I still managed to get my insurance choice, so it's still somewhere I'd like to go.

I was absolutely devastated when I found that I didn't get into my first choice university, devastated. And at the time, it wasn't confirmed that I was into my insurance choice either, so I was very lost and angry at myself. I don't think the outcome would have mattered as much to me, if I had been at school full time without any troubles with my mental health. But these last few years and my battle with anxiety has been absolute hell; taking away my education and opportunities. Everything I loved became everything I lost. I worked so hard to even step inside the school gates and to keep on going, and not doing as well as I hoped, was destroying.

But, what I must take from this is a greater sense of self worth. I managed to get into university, which a few months back would've been impossible, let alone taking my A-levels. It would've been completely out of the question. I am disappointed, but I must be proud of the fact that I can say that I couldn't have worked any harder and that these are my results at the end of it. If I didn't work as a hard, I wouldn't be where I am. I must put into retrospect that my grades are good considering my attendance. Not only that, but I mustn't be as hard on myself; not everyone can be the best all of the time. I've always been seen as a "bright" and hard working student, and as my anxiety got hold, my grades began to drop and I began to lose the very thing I was really passionate about; making me feel stupid. As hard as that is, I am where I am and I am who I am. No matter what the hardships, I know my triumphs and that is what I must hold dear, no matter of others opinions. At the end of the day, life doesn't always go to plan and you may feel you haven't got the justice you deserve, but it's something you have to grow with and sometimes that may be for the better. 

It's time to begin the next chapter of my life. I am both excited and terrified. I hope you will all follow the journey with me!

(And would you believe it, I'm currently writing this blog post whilst travelling on a train by myself! Who would have thought it?!)

Finally, If you're going through a severely difficult time, keep going. I was so distraught, but I held on and now I'm here. Something I would never have thought possible. I have been where you've been and I know what it's like. It can get better.

I'm proud of you!

Best wishes,

Compulsory education

I wrote a few months back about mental health in academia or rather the lack of it. This post is going to be focused more on the need for it rather than the pressures and protection.

I've been wanting to write this post for a while and is something which I am extremely passionate about, due to my own experience of mental health in the education system. However, what had sparked this post was a tweet from @Mentalhealth_ed who have set up petitions to the secretary of education, to make mental health in education compulsory. You can visit their website, here.

You see, mental health is extremely common, with 1/4 experiencing a mental health problem in any one year. More importantly though, 1/3 in every school class will experience a mental health problem. That's the same probability as some physical illnesses and yet, mental health is still not addressed as important or fatal, which of course it is.

The anatomy of the body is taught in biology, but yet mental health is left out of it. Furthermore, in personal development there is the discussion of drugs, alcohol and sex to an extent which may or may not be successful, but yet no talk of mental health. Until you go to school, you are surrounded by your families opinions, and at such an influential age this is all you really know. Thus this is where school becomes an important information source. With young people spending more time in education than outside, surely it's highly important to prepare them for future life and everything that can come their way. By educating early, we can get people to really understand the reasons and reality to mental health. In this way then we can battle the harmful and horrific stigma of the straight jackets, murderers and schizophrenics. 

If we aren't going to learn about this in education, then where will we learn it? We won't learn about it in the community, because many still believe in the myths. They aren't educated on mental health, which isn't always their fault; it's what they've been socialised into. I have written a lot more about the stigma, here and whilst we are working on the government, you can voluntarily read about the myths, here.

It's not just the education during these school years, but the importance in noticing how many pupils go through mental health problems. With mental health in schools still being taboo due to the lack of education, many will keep their mental health a secret as it is seen as 'bad' and this is extremely dangerous. Many teachers don't have the knowledge of how to act and pupils don't know how to act around them with only knowledge of stereotypes. With it being so common, not only do we need to teach to get others to understand, but to support those suffering. We must let them know it's okay to talk and you shouldn't suffer in silence.

Many of you retweeted my tweet about mental health and education, which is amazing; it just shows how many people see compulsory mental health in education as important. Please help us to raise more awareness and change the current situation by sharing this blog post, and using the hashtag #compulsorymentalhealth on twitter.

Let's just give ourselves one last reminder. Mental illness kills and destroys. Physical health is attributed with the same statistics and has more attention paid to it, but the same if not worse consequences can occur from a mental health condition. People have lost and are losing friends, family members, colleagues, sons and daughters, mums and dads due to the mental illness that is eating them away and yet this still isn't regarded as important enough to educate about. Because there aren't straightforward scientific methods to determine the diagnosis of these conditions, it's brushed aside. Because you can't see internal bleeding or a lack of white blood cells, it's regarded as inferior. But, let me ask you this; would a person stay in hell if they had the chance to leave?, would there be tears running down their face with absolute dread in their eyes, with a racing heartbeat if they weren't trying to get over the fear attributed with their mental health condition? It's time to face the fact that mental health does exist. We know that it can be a chemical imbalance and we can see from the outside the absolute turmoil in people's behaviour. Now's the time to educate, to get rid of the stigma and to save lives. 

You probably know someone who is suffering with mental illness or are yourself. Please sign the petitions to improve peoples lives for the future. 

Best wishes,