It is not a secret for anyone at this point that I feel very strongly about the subject of mental health, as well as destroying the stigma that surrounds it. I mean, it even says in my bio, both here and on Instagram that I am a mental health advocate. And since I started a fundraiser for YoungMinds charity on my birthday last month, I thought this is a good time to elaborate on the subject a bit more. To make it more personal, more transparent. To tell a story about a real life experience.
The main reason I feel so passionately about this charity’s mission, namely supporting children and young adults with their mental health, is that I myself have what they call “trauma history”. To be exact, childhood abuse and neglect. By no means does this define me, or puts me into a victims position. However, over the years it has had a significant impact on most, if not all areas of my life. Which is why I do what I do - raise the awareness about mental health, with an emphasis on just how powerful are the formative years in shaping our minds and lives.
It is a big mistake to see this as a problem that is limited to just one segment of the society. After all, once children grow into adults - their attitudes, their choices, their actions or lack of them, have a direct impact on their surroundings. From a significantly higher healthcare cost to manage the consequences of early stress, to an increased crime rate (the acting out of one’s unresolved material), the ripple effect of difficult childhoods continues to spread for decades after, and it is time people realised this.
Believe it or not, until very recently the general public didn’t really connect the dots when it comes to linking one’s formative years and the adulthood. The assumption was that once the childhood is over, it doesn’t affect you anymore, you are all grown up. Today there is a lot more conversation, as well as the awareness of how the human psyche really works. We all know in theory that it is the subconscious, not the conscious mind that dictates our behavior, and that it is largely programmed in ones childhood. The research continues, the amount of available evidence and information is growing , yet I believe we can do better. Even without necessarily waiting for the science to enlighten us, although it helps.
One of the latest initiatives by Young Minds is called #EndTheWait, and has to do with addressing the unreasonably long waiting lists when it comes to receiving therapy. Current statistics in UK is that four young people in every secondary school classroom suffer with a diagnosable mental health problem. I can speak from my own experience that facing these kind of problems for the very first time was probably the most terrifying, as you are unable to make sense of what is going on with your mind and body. It is overwhelming, it is scary, and a mind that is still developing, needs all the support and reassurance it can get. And who are best equipped for the task at hand, if not people who are professionally trained for this very purpose? Sadly, the resources are limited, and young people end up waiting for months to talk to someone.
The UK government has promised to prioritise young peoples mental health in their long term politics. However, with all the big changes in the government at the moment, it is all too easy to lose sight of what is important. Therefore, Young Minds charity is on a mission to keep the politicians accountable, to make sure they deliver what they have promised. They are specifically urging the new Health Secretary to take action as soon as possible.
Going back to a personal level and experience, since I largely had to find the answers, the solutions, the resources on my own , which took a very long time, I do think there are other ways. Not necessarily easier, but more structured so to speak. Not that I didn’t have any support, this isn’t true. Albeit very limited, there were still certain resources available to me in my journey. People who temporarily held my hand, who validated my experience, who believed in me , who showed me what is possible when it comes to human connection, namely - safety, trust, mutual support, unconditional love. Even if they didn’t understand what is happening to me and why, even if they didn’t always say the right thing, they were doing their best. Which brings me to my next point. As a society we really lived in the dark ages for a very long time in terms of understanding mental health, emotions, our own bodies. The basics of being human really.
In the recent years, I’ve done a lot of research, both in theory and practice. And to my surprise saw that up until very recently- there just wasn’t enough information available about the impact of trauma on the nervous system. The body was simply not included in the dialogue, the solutions given were mainly cognitive, which is just one aspect of what is going on when it comes to mental health issues. Physiological changes due to trauma are real, and they have a lot of power. When I was first seeking help, these struggles were still seen as a pathology, whether labelled so directly or not. The stigma alone would prevent so many to even seek help. These days more and more professionals choose to see the so called “disorders” rather as natural responses to various traumatic events, perhaps maladaptive, but very much normal given the circumstances. This validation in itself is healing and comforting, there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do. Which is why it is absolutely crucial for young people to speak to someone who gets it.
As you can see - supporting charities such as @youngmindsuk equals supporting and investing into a future of our society. The truth that is unacknowledged for the most part in our culture, is that absolutely everything in this world is interconnected . In other words, if I was a Wonder Woman, this would be one of the very first things I would fix, and as a result a lot of other problems wouldn’t be able to take a root in a first place. For now my power and contribution is my written word, coming from a place of living something, experiencing it first hand, and feeling the need to voice it. And while I will always advocate for the accessible therapy services for those who need it, I also want to touch upon something else, perhaps even more important in a long run.
All theory aside, the lived experience of something is the best teacher on the subject, especially since it is only you who can dig deep and find your own inner strength, something that for the most part trauma survivors don’t believe they possess. It is only in the retrospect that you can see just how resilient you truly are. You see, trauma not only drains you of energy, it also puts a massive blindfold over your eyes, by making you totally unaware of what you are actually capable of. Your potential, your strengths, your true self. It distorts the reality and makes you see yourself and the world in a very skewed way. One of the definitions of trauma is the inability to be in the present moment, but instead feel like you’re back to time when the overwhelming event, or the series of events happened. The journey back to yourself, to your true self is like putting the pieces of the puzzle back together again. In my opinion, one of the main goals of therapy and inner work in general, is what Carl Jung called the “individuation”. Which means the individuality is important. With the help of another you are really getting to know yourself, the complexity of your inner world. You are learning how to how to take better care of yourself, how to love yourself when the storms hit, how to reparent your inner child. The list goes on. And this is something no one can take away from you.
If you wish to make a donation to this cause, simply click on the Insta link above, then either click on the little heart in a circle symbol in the bottom left corner, or on the “Young minds” title below that, and it will take you to my fundraiser. Thank you for reading, and let’s make this world a better place. ♥️