The Society's President, Amanda Millar, shares why she is supporting our campaign to Pass the Badge on World Mental Health Day this year, as part of our work on tackling mental health stigma and discrimination.
In my early 20s I began to understand why my emotional attractions were different from my friends. In my last year at university I met my first love and then left home suddenly under a dark cloud that carried the banner ‘you can’t be a lesbian, your life will be ruined’.
I finished university, started my professional way in the world, became my firm’s highest income generating trainee and met all the childhood expectations of work hard, become a professional person and all will be well with the world.
The dark cloud remained and my emotional life became self-destructive and chaotic to the point where approx. four years after leaving home there was a day by the sea (usually a place of calm for me) when I was almost overwhelmed by the desire to walk into the sea and just keep walking.
I was encouraged to see a counsellor to help me work through my four year ‘phase’.
Regardless of the rationale for suggesting counselling that support and encouragement gave me a safe space to talk, accept myself and rebuild myself. The counsellor held a metaphorical mirror up to me, gave me the space to process, like myself and move forward on my own terms. I developed strategies to challenge, manage and accept the different views of others.
I have learned that none of us make it through the day by ourselves, even if we are alone.
Mental health is as important as physical health and in terms of day to day resilience being able to acknowledge the good and the bad days is fundamental.
Stigma around mental illness and even the perceptions around the bad days, which we all have but aren’t mental illness, still exists. I hadn’t told anyone except my counsellor about the ‘day by the sea’ until I told my wife recently in preparation for this blog! Now I am telling you.
Talking is a wonderful medium and if you are struggling know you are not alone and reach out, to a friend, a loved one, a professional, a stranger.
If you see someone who might be struggling, reach out. Better to ask than wonder. It could make all the difference.
I have surrounded myself with people I trust and love. I value them and myself. I acknowledge the bad days and use them to make the good days even better. I continue to reflect, challenge and build. I have shed more than one tear writing this, but I know that is ok.
The ‘phase’ continues and I have never been happier or felt more secure.
I walk by the sea and feel calm.