Mental Health is Invisible

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

We're still seeing articles that sadly cover someone's lost battle with mental health, followed with comments of "why didn't they say something" or "they always seemed so happy", and that's one of our biggest issues to overcome.

I took this photo in 2018 when I was at an absolute low, only managing to get out the house for dog walks. The mere prospect at the time of doing other things like going to the shops was a complete no no and filled me with dread, panic and moments of utter despair where I'd end up in tears and unable to function. It's a reminder not only to myself of how far I've come, but should be a warning to others that those going through utter hell are hiding a terrible secret behind fake smiles and laughter.

I’ll now admit that I’ve been close to ending my life. The day it all became too much, I drove myself to the crematorium where my parents ashes are. Standing there in floods of tears I told I'd be with them soon as I couldn't handle living this life anymore. I jumped back in the car and started driving to our local train station with one thing in mind, but along the way a little voice in my head started to say "go home mate and tell Erica, please".

I can't explain how glad I am now that I listened to that voice and I'm sorry if you find that upsetting or never realised how bad things were, but in a way that's one of the worst things about depression, its an invisible killer that keeps getting away with it.

How can we break the cycle?

Firstly, talking to each other is paramount. The difficulty is when you're at your absolute lowest, you consider yourself a burden to others and the window of opportunity to open up and tell someone how you feel starts to shrink. It's a truly awful place to be and the mind tricks you in to believing that your friends, loved ones and co-workers would be better off without you. The strength and courage it takes to reach out for help is extremely understated and those who do it need to be applauded. but for those brief seconds it took to communicate can make the difference between bottling everything up and becoming more depressed, or perhaps something worse.

We all need more than ever now to talk to those around us, even co-workers that we perhaps don't know that well. Sometimes you can spot little signs or pick up on things that were said, but often there's no sign whatsoever and the smiles hide a great deal of pain.

Ask twice

Show empathy, and when you ask someone how they are, ask them again, re-affirming that you actually want to know how they are. Aside from showing a little humanity, the person may be caught off-guard as they're used to responding automatically "I'm fine thanks", so have a second chance to say "I'm not great to be honest". You don't have to be medically trained to help someone in need, but showing you really care about their wellbeing will mean the absolute world to them, and might even make you feel better about yourself.

My point to all of this is that Mental Health kills people. It doesn't care if you have families, if you're successful, loved, what colour or race you are, or what age you are, and we're loosing an unimaginable number of people to it.

5691 suicides (4303 in men and boys) were registered in England and Wales in 2019, giving an age standardised rate of 11 deaths per 100 000 people. A total of 5420 were registered in 2018 (10.5 per 100 000).

Among men and boys the age group with the highest suicide rate was 45 to 49 years (25.5 deaths per 100 000), while among women and girls 50 to 54 year olds had the highest rate (7.4 per 100 000).

Despite a low number of deaths overall among people aged under 25 years, the data showed that rates of suicide in this age group have generally increased in recent years, particularly in the case of 10 to 24 year old females, whose rate has increased by 94% since 2012, from 1.6 deaths per 100 000 (81 deaths) to 3.1 per 100 000 in 2019 (159).

We all have a part to play

Please do your bit and check in on those around you once in a while to see if they're ok, and don't forget to ask twice. But more importantly, if you believe someone is in immanent danger, call 999. Saving just one life will make all to the difference to so many.


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