Seen as though we have reached a new year I thought I should let you all know what has happened in my life since I last posted. Things have changed quite drastically and not in a way that I particularly relish in talking about, however I would like to continue with this blog so I think it's important that I am open and use this blog as a platform for expressing myself, which is what I intended to do when I started it almost 2 years ago. In November I came to the decision to leave university. It was not an easy choice to make and it's really quite painful to think about what I would have been capable of achieving if it wasn't for the poor state of my mental health. However it was really the only direction I could take without continuing down a path that would have eventually made me even more unhappy. It sounds kind of contrary, but I know the decision I made was for the best, even though I hated to have to make it.
University is something I have worked my entire life towards, pushing myself through school and GCSE's and A-levels, achieving the best grades I could, trying to maintain the high standards that others set me and, most of all, that I set for myself. I have always been a perfectionist, even when I was four years old my teacher told my parents that I would sit with the waste paper bin next to me ready to throw away what I was working on when I thought it wasn't up to standard. I have felt this way for as long as I can remember but have only come to understand it much more recently. However, my ability to actually control it and not let it consume me is still shaky at best. It hasn't exactly helped that the education system, to me, is somewhat flawed in the way it supports people with mental health issues. There is a real "one size fits all" mentality, and I feel as though it's at its worst when it comes to mental illness. It seems the majority of people have very little understanding about how it feels to suffer with these issues, making it incredibly difficult for those who do suffer to get the help they so desperately need, but this is understandable. After all no one really wants to know how it feels to be deeply unhappy, it is not something that we go out of our way to experience, so naturally it is a very difficult thing to relate to.
Depression is something that I feel is not well represented in society, fundamentally, anyway. We are told that something like 1 in 4 of us will experience it at some point over the course of a year, yet discussing it is still a taboo subject. There is also a real difference between the kind of depression that stems from, perhaps when someone falls on hard times or loses a loved one as opposed to clinical depression. I am in no way saying that one is any more valid than the other, and both should still be classed as depression and treated as such, however I feel that there needs to be more awareness of the difference between depression that is an entirely normal human reaction to something bad happening in their lives and the kind that has no tangible trigger and is seemingly endless to the sufferer. Suffering from the latter and trying to share this with others has often felt almost impossible and it is something that has ground me down over many years now. Often on telling others about suffering from depression their perception changes, we try to pretend that it doesn't but it is human nature to form judgements on others based upon ourselves and the impact they may have upon us, whether its socially, mentally or physically. Granted the changes are not always negative, you may find that someone once aware of your condition is more supportive, but my own tendency towards paranoia leads me to wonder if this stems from pity and not the genuine desire to help. And really shouldn't we all treat everyone with care and kindness regardless of their mental state? The fear that the person you confide in will judge you harshly, or even just treat you differently, is something that sufferers are often faced with and it leaves you in a vicious circle questioning whether you should seek support and risk an unwanted reaction or keep quiet and suffer in silence.
Talking about this issue here on my blog, although I'm not sure if it is particularly welcome, gives me the opportunity to discuss some of the things that have been weighing on my mind recently, as well as allowing me to make my own step in trying to make mental illness a subject people can talk about more openly. I know this tiny post is pretty insignificant on the scale of things but it feels better to know I have been open about something that I have been so secretive about in the past, and I hope with the time I have now I can maybe look at a way of furthering a cause that I feel so strongly about, or at least just do something that may help others and at the same time help me to feel more confident in myself.
If any of you wish to look into this issue further I think the Time to Change campaign run by Mind (a UK organisation) seems very informative. If any of you know of any other organisations I could also look into don't hesitate to let me know in the comments.
P.S. I wish you all a very, very Happy New Year. Normal and fashion-related posting will begin again next week.