The battle to be me.
The arts have been my saving grace. Through freedom of expression amongst the paint, fabric or music I have healed and grown to a point where I am able to give back.
When those overwhelming thoughts begin to creep up, I find myself at the piano or charcoal in hand and pour all my troubles out.
The stigma surrounding mental health is birthed from fear. Fear that we won’t know ‘the right thing to say’ or ‘the shame that exists within admitting one’s own struggle.’
If we continue this path, we are affirming a society that only pays lip service to supporting one another.
Mental illness can affect anyone. It makes no apologies. It doesn’t care what clothes you wear or job you hold. It doesn’t discriminate. And neither should we.
I am worthy. Three words that I must repeat to myself. Daily. For many years I never thought I was.
I lived with an un-substantiated idea that I would never find, let alone deserve, what I truly desired and needed.
I spent time with my psychologist, journeyed a gamut of emotions and learnt boundaries, methods and re-wired my thought process.
Why am I sharing this? Because perception can alter the way we interact. When we view others by the clothes they wear or the jobs they hold, we are assuming certain social nuances about them. I wear op-shop clothes because I love them, and because I have been a single parent with little income.
I work in the human services sector because I enjoy it, and because I have struggled with my own mental health problems over the years. We need to see the person first. We need to value every person. We need to stop labels. We need to smash our perceptions of others and build real relationships. For these are the keys to recovery.
Relationships, and knowing we are worthy. For we are worthy – of living in a community that genuinely supports each other and having the freedom to tell others when we aren’t ok. Worthy of shattering the stigma.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone about your or someone you know’s mental health, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.