In our weekly mental health and wellbeing feature, we’re this week talking about the shame that sometimes comes with talking about mental health.

Hello and welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about things to do with mental health and general wellbeing. This is hugely important to us, and you’ve landed on our weekly article where we just have a natter, come up with ideas and suggestions, and hopefully come up with something that may be of use to you. Not every article is going to be of help to everyone, we’re not naïve about that. Nor do we offer miracle cures. We just hope that somewhere along the line, we tap into something that might be of use to you.

This week, a few words about the shame that sometimes comes hand in hand with struggling.

It’s an area where there’s been some degree of progress in recent times, but there’s still a long, long way to go. 20 years ago, admitting to someone at work, at school, or just to friends and family, that you were battling mental health difficulties felt like a taboo. It was very much the exception rather than the rule to be open about it. Now, partly due to the openness of conversation afforded by social media – although social media remains a double-edged sword of course – at least there’s less stigma attached.

But there’s still something there, and still some degree of shame in some cases. The shame of somehow not measuring up to society’s expectations of what a human being is supposed to be (whatever that actually is). The feeling that being open about mental health feelings and struggles would count against us, that it’d be a badge we were then stuck with.

And then the shame of admitting we need help from time to time. That we can’t solve everything by ourselves. Surely it’s better, goes the theory, to bottle all this up and not let any of it out? At least then we’re inoculated from the judgement of others? It’s an incorrect and damaging theory of course in the long run, but it can often feel like the safer choice.

It remains hard to break through this, but there are ways forward, however bleak everything may feel on a given day. Obviously, not everything works for everyone, but a few thoughts that may be of help.

  • Find someone to talk to. This may of course be part of the problem, but is there someone you can trust, be it a friend or family member? That, or get in touch with one of the many excellent support groups out there, that exist purely to help other people. Externalise what’s in your brain and speak the words if you can.
  • Finding a greater sense of self-worth is something akin to finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many of us, but try and take baby steps towards it. Step away from screens, go for walks, find little ways to be kind to yourself.
  • Find a bit of brain space to challenge your feelings of shame. Are you really that person you may feel you are? If you open up about your feelings, will it really be that bad? Is the fear of something much worse than the actual?

There are just a few starting points, and please feel free to add anything that’s worked for you in the comments below. Or just say hello down below. Let’s get a conversation going. No human being – however they appear – is perfect. We all have our demons. Keeping them at bay, inevitably, remains one of life’s challenges.

The very best to you, thanks for reading, and take care. This page will be back next week.

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