Understanding Mental Health without Lived Experience

This post on understanding mental health is written by Gigi from GigiwithaBlog. To connect with Gigi see her social media links below.

When I was a child, mental health didn’t seem to exist. It was as simple as that. We didn’t speak about it, or talk about feelings and mental health. So, I had no way of understanding mental health. We just ignored the problem.

However, as I matured and grew up I started to notice things I just hadn’t seen before. No one was always happy. The world wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns (as much as I dreamed that it was). Feelings change, people change, our health changes. And this was something that took a lot for me to fully grasp. I mean, why couldn’t everyone just be happy all of the time? Was it really that hard?

Childhood Experiences

Turns out, it was. I had a relatively sheltered childhood. If there was a problem, my parents dealt with it. It wasn’t anything to do with me. And I shouldn’t be concerned or stressed by it. And for that, I am quite grateful. If I had known then what I know now, considering it’s only been a few years, my life and attitude would be completely different.

My goals and aspirations would be shattered. Even if my biggest dream at the time was to live on a farm and have pet unicorns, who I would train to do amazing tricks! Having a childhood full of innocence and naivety is important to healthy development. If a child carried the same weight of problems that an adult does, they wouldn’t be able to cope.

Understanding Mental Health

Despite this, not knowing anything about the world had a significant effect on how much I had to learn later on. I had no idea that mental health problems impacted so many people. Disorders such as anxiety, depression, BPD (borderline personality disorder) and schizophrenia. In fact, I was so naive that I didn’t notice some close family members had these illnesses. Instead it was hidden from me. I was young and people think youth means immaturity. Meaning I would not be able to deal with proper human emotion. As if learning about what my family and friends feel and why would completely destroy me. And I would never recover. 

For 10 myths about mental health and illness read here.

The True Pandemic

What’s even more shocking is, I did not understand the full extent of the issue until I began blogging. By interacting with other writers, who told me that they used writing, or journalling, as a way to escape, or a way to cope. And to be honest, I’m not sure whether that is sad or relieving. On the one hand, people are finding ways to help themselves. Especially in a time when help is harder to find or access. But, it really shows that the true global pandemic is one that has been normalised, and even ignored in some cases. Namely, our constant struggle with mental health. If anything, the impact of Coronavirus has simply brought to light the detrimental problem that we have lived alongside for many years. 

For more on why mental health is a true pandemic read here.

Peering Through the Window

Which is why my entire life I have felt as though I have been peering in on the world through a window. Never fully grasping the depth of the problem. I have no experience, no past, no way of fully comprehending the way poor mental health negatively impacts billions of lives. Or understanding mental health and what impacts it. And yet, I live in the world that is impacted by a major problem. A problem that affects every single person on every single continent.

When I was a child, mental health didn’t exist. And that shouldn’t be the case for any child when they are growing up. Covid-19 is not as big an issue as mental health. The problem won’t shrink either. As long as people are ignorant of the situation. Thus , many of us must through other people’s trauma or experience. This creates an endless and vicious cycle with more people becoming hurt. We need better ways of understanding mental health.

 It is vital that you look after your mental health. But so few of us are taught that it is just as important as our physical health. Going on a stroll, reading a book, writing in a journal, or even just taking a break every once in a while can all have great benefits. Peering through a window shouldn’t be something that anyone has to do. We should all be nurtured, we should all be cared for, we should all be loved.

For more on looking after your mental health read here.

For 4 ways to check in with your mental health read here.

What are your experiences of understanding or learning about mental health? How did you learn about it? Who taught you about it? Let us know below!

You can connect with Gigi on Twitter or Instagram. And make sure to check out her blog for more posts!

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