Why a Support System is Vital for Mental Health #WMHD

So here's the thing, my self confidence post went down a treat. And I was scheduled (yes, scheduled, you can tell I'm unemployed because I'm scheduling), to write a blog post tomorrow on my autumn fashion wishlist. But today, it is World Mental Health Day, and after a long old chat with Kitty about the importance of a support system and how it can make the world of difference to your mental health, I decided this post needed to be written, and when better to write it? Fashion can wait. *clicks fingers in a Z*.

If you did happen to read yesterday's blog post, you'll know that I attributed a lot of my self confidence to my friends and the people around me. Because, although you're the only one who can make the final call, the energy and support of the people around you are going to affect how you think about yourself.

A lot of mental health issues still carry a stigma which some, and I stress some, people over the age of 40 will always brush off. They'll say it's a phase, or that until something drastic happens, you'll be just fine. And this is a huge problem with young people going to their parents/guardians or trusted adults, because people who need help, aren't given it. People with eating disorders aren't told to go to the Doctor until their bones start showing, and those who confide they have depression aren't given any help until someone notices scars on their arms. And a large reason for that, is confiding to the wrong people, or feeling like you don't have anyone to confide to.

A huge part in growing as a person, is recognising the person, or people, who will help you grow. The ones who you can talk to and won't diminish what you say, or compare it to their troubles. Those who will listen. Sometimes it's important to seek professional help, but other times, you need a glass of wine and somebody who will listen and validate what you're going through.

For me, I had all sorts of problems in my teens. Stemming from very real things and encounters and issues which manifested in my mid-teens and I didn't escape from until I was 19. In school, I would confide secrets in 'friends' only to have them repeated to me by practically strangers in the corridor days later. At sixth form (final two years of education) I began to find people I really could trust, and steadily I began to find a support system. Cue 2014 Alice, who after finishing school and travelling a little, felt completely ready to take on 7 months alone in Italy. And guess what? Everything came crashing back down. For the first 2 months I had no friends and no mental health whatsoever, and I was so determined to succeed and stay out there, because I wanted to be the brave person everyone thought I was, that I did stick it out. Eventually I did meet people, but the first couple of months in Italy were two of the hardest of my life, and I will never forget the difference that having just two people I could talk to made. Fast forward three years of university, and I finally feel like the person everybody always thought I was, I'm writing blogs on being self confident for goodness sake.

There is nothing worse than feeling like you're alone. And that feeling of loneliness often comes from either past experiences of being swept under the carpet like it doesn't exist, or because it seems impossible to grasp that everyone has problems, when everyone seems so functional compared to you. Finding your person, your people, is what brings the change about. It makes a world of difference. Whether it's your mum, or your best friend, your partner or a professional, knowing you can share everything with someone is one of the most important parts of overcoming mental health problems. Just always remember it's important to be that person for other people too.

Love, Alice x