Tuesday, May 21

Our mental health crisis affects everyone

Recently, I made a huge revelation online. Looking back, it’s possibly one I should have discussed with my whanau before disclosing it, however, I felt the need to address something that had been said and why it triggered me. 

The revelation was that at one point in my life, my own mental health got so bad that I did attempt to walk my own path and take my own life.

This is why I am so vocal about the gender identity issues that we have. Because I know that these are issues that need addressing with mental health care and not puberty blockers. 

So, what was it that triggered me? A comment that non-LGBT people don’t know what self-hatred and shame looks like. 

As a woman, and one who had done what I did, I felt the overwhelming urge to address what isn’t said enough. There is no one sector of society that has ownership of feelings of self-loathing and shame.

Women are judged constantly for how we look, how much we weigh, and how we dress. We’ve had unrealistic expectations of what women should look like thrust upon us because of stick-thin models who look like they could do with a boil-up. 

Over the years we’ve been made to feel ashamed of getting periods only to arrive in 2023 having people praising men for doing tampon deals while they masquerade as women.

Slowly but surely, not only have women’s spaces been hijacked but now there are people trying to claim feelings exclusively for one group of people. 

That to me is a ridiculous idea. And so, I opened myself up in a way that I didn’t think I would online. 

But what I’ve learned by sharing my experience, is that there are people who are grateful for me sharing this most vulnerable side of who I am. 

I’ve seen over time, the comments about how strong I am. But what people didn’t know was my hidden past and what life experiences have led me to the strength people see today. 

For me, opening myself up in this way to people gives them an insight into why I talk about the importance of mental health so often and why I continue to support I am Hope. 

Because I know all too well what a bad state of mental health looks like and that seeing a psychiatrist is going to be far more beneficial for a child than giving them medications. 

After all these years and all the government funding that has been made available, we have seen negligible results in mental health care.

I hope that by sharing this part of myself it helps to break down the stigma attached to mental health and shows that even those who appear the strongest among us have struggles in life. 

Sadly, some of us don’t live to tell our tales. That’s why it’s important that those of us who are fortunate to be able to, do share theirs. 

If there is one thing I’ve learned over time, it’s the importance of checking in and not checking out on people. Don’t sit back and wait for people to reach out to you. Check-in on them, especially if you notice changes.

That could be the difference between whether they stay or whether they take a trip down a path of no return. 

In a country where true suicide statistics appear to be hidden by clever government wording, suicide is a pain too many of us have felt indirectly and one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.