In the UK, one in four of us will experience some kind of mental health challenge every year. For some, it’ll be brief, perhaps a spell of anxiety as their everyday takes a tumble through the washing machine of life. For others, it’ll be an ongoing struggle to find some kind of steady.
I fall into the latter category. I’m pretty candid about my mental health, I’m open to speaking about it & expressing how it’s gone from being a weight to being one of the keys to my superpower: my empathy.
Empathy & emotional intelligence can be a gift and a curse, I’m so aware of other’s feelings & their tells that reveal when everything isn’t quite okie. But also, I’m like a big walking sponge & if anyone in the room is a bit low or down, I just soak it up.
Always anxious, even as a child, my mental health continued to spill and spill and spill until it was overflowing. Eventually, I was 16/17 and consumed by the ocean within me. Initially I was diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety, this was reassessed when I was 20/21 and I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Borderline has a really bad reputation. You know, if we’re ranking mental health conditions. And for a long time, I was worried about how this reflected on me — because what you need when you’re already anxious is to worry about how people would perceive you with this label.
For a long time, I just didn’t talk about the sad pouring out of me. I continued to take on more and more to try and distract myself and those around me. I was at university, doing my undergrad degree, working, volunteering in two or three different places, doing an internship and in a very unhealthy relationship and eventually I just crashed in the middle of my final year of my undergrad.
So, I tried to stop.
and I tried again, and again.
I think it took a toxic and abusive relationship to end for me to poke my head up and realise that I was either going to have to try a bit harder to stop, or start living.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just started to take it day by day. I just kept making short term decisions. I was living in the moment because I had no idea what the future looked like for me. And maybe that was what I needed then, to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Once upon a time, someone told me that I was probably good at writing because I was so sad, it made me creative and without it, I probably wouldn’t be that good. I think there’s a lot of romanticising around mental health and creativity — like the tortured artist is something we should be striving for.
Ten years ago, I couldn’t imagine making it past the hour/day/week that I was living. And you couldn’t have told me when I was in it that it would get better, but here I am living with it. It wasn’t easy but it was so worthwhile. And I’m a much better writer now that I’m ‘well’ (aka less sad ALL THE TIME) than I ever was when I was deep in it.
Today, I’m about to send off documents to our mortgage broker and we’re signing up for a 35 year mortgage. Once, this might have terrified me, I had no vision of what the future looked like because I was just trying to survive.
Now, I’m trying to live.
I’m making plans for this year, next year, five years, ten years, 35 years.
If you’re treading water in treacle right now, there is no quick fix, but you can feel ‘better’ & it’s probably gonna take some work. But future you is absolutely bursting with pride, waiting to thank you for getting the help that you needed. So, Mental Health Week or not, tell someone how you’re feeling. Get the help that you don’t just need, but deserve. You deserve to be well & feel good.
DMs are always open for a chat — find me on Instagram: @salonichamberlain ✨