What I Wish I Knew about Mental Health Before my Diagnosis

Mental health

Hi everyone,

My name is Leo. On Twitter, I am known as The Anxious Teacher. This is my first post for the Mental Health Awareness Project and I’m really excited to share my mental health journey with you all. I started blogging on my website: from March 2019 following a severe mental breakdown, and I personally share how my anxiety diagnosis impacts my everyday life, including the ways I try to tackle my mental health whilst working as a secondary school teacher.

My post today is all about what I wish I knew about mental health before my diagnosis.

And in all honesty, I was first diagnosed five years ago during my second year of University, and I was very obtuse about it, if that makes sense. Growing up, and even at school, mental health just simply wasn’t a thing or even something that was talked about. Because of my love for history, I knew and understood shell shock from World War I. With my military family background, I had also heard of PTSD. But the topic mental health? I felt like a bigot because I just didn’t get it.

I just couldn’t understand how people could have a health issue that wasn’t necessarily visible. Quite hypocritically, I just assumed that if people said they had mental health, it was simply an excuse to either claim benefits or not work. Even typing this now, having that opinion ten years prior makes me just sick to my stomach and I actually hate myself for it.

We have this culture of you either follow the norm and be a ‘real’ human, which includes hiding anything that makes us different, OR you contradict society but face being socially excluded and treated like absolute crap.

Even now, mental health is talked about more than ever, before which I think is an amazing and wonderful thing, but at the same time, the bigotry, stereotyping, trash talk, and slander continues to suppress any positive strides that advocates try to accomplish.

This is why it is even more important we do everything we can to defeat this stigma, to remove the negative label, and to be accepting that mental health is a serious medical condition. 1 in 6 people in the UK experience mental health triggers everyday. It is so important that we end the discrimination and to accept that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay.

Prior to my diagnosis, I wish that I was educated on mental health and for it to be apart of the Citizenship and PSHE curriculum in the UK. As a teacher myself, these subjects have either been replaced with a simple 10 minute year group assembly or shoved into the already jam-packed Religious Studies curriculum. I mean, if the Government and the Department of Education don’t care about mental health and refuse to consider its importance to be taught to young people, what are the younger generation supposed to do? Where do they go for help? Who do they speak to? It shouldn’t be shameful at all to have mental health, but the Government makes it so.

For five years, I didn’t take my diagnosis seriously, probably because I didn’t understand it, nor was I taught anything about it at school. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have made an attempt on my own life during my breakdown earlier this year.

The way to end the stigma is education. I wish I knew that it’s okay to have the thoughts that I do. That it’s okay that I feel anxious and get stressed in crowds. That it’s okay to take my medication every morning in order to survive the day.

That’s my blog for today, did you want to know anything about mental health before your diagnosis? Leave a comment below.

For my daily posts check out my blog! I will be posting on MHAP once a week.

See you next week!

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