Why Meghan’s words mean so much to me

Like so many, we’ve been absorbed by the appalling revelations shared by Meghan in her recent interview with Oprah Winfrey. Here Sophie, one of our senior leaders at Second Step, talks openly and frankly about her own mental health struggles.

It’s not very often that I post openly on social media about my own personal mental health struggles, but in light of the Meghan interview I feel I have to.

STOP QUESTIONING WHETHER SHE WAS ACTUALLY SUICIDAL!!!

STOP ACCUSING HER OF ACTING!!!!

STOP SLATING HER ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!

There was a period in my life that was so dark and out of control when I experienced similar thoughts. I would walk along the river and fantasise about throwing myself in, vividly imagining how the water would feel as I inhaled it. I would drive along the motorway, half in a trance, staring at the central reservation, contemplating turning the steering wheel slightly and driving head first into the barrier. I once paced, locked in the bathroom, with a razor blade in my hand.

I got help and have been in active recovery since this time. I rely on medication. The hardest thing was admitting how I was feeling to the people I loved, and who loved me. I felt like a failure, that I was letting people down, I felt judged, misunderstood.
There were times when I didn’t feel like people believed me, even professionals. If I managed to make it to my psychiatric appointment with my make-up on I believed they thought ‘oh, well she can’t be that bad as she’s managed to make herself up’ – not recognising that this facade, this front, this need for perfectionism was what had made me so unwell in the first place.

I explained to someone who I love dearly that even the post landing on the doormat could trigger an anxiety attack. I would have to wait for my then husband to come home and open my mail for me. I was accused of picking and choosing what I could do as I managed to open tickets for a gig but not bills.

Mental health issues leave someone feeling completely isolated, petrified of their own thoughts and not even able to recognise themselves when they look in the mirror.

For goodness sake, leave Meghan alone. She may not see your accusing social media posts but your friends and family members who may be feeling the same, will. Don’t ridicule people for having the bravery to speak out. Don’t question whether someone is genuine when they confide in you how they are feeling. Put the kettle on, give them a cwtch (cuddle) and ask how you can help. 

No one would have known I was suffering. I had a professional job and solid career, house, car, I was a good Mum, kept fit and healthy, always looked well and had a smile on my face. My social media posts painted the picture of a perfect life: and it was. With the exception of what was going on in my head.

I have found some people’s reaction to Meghan extremely upsetting and triggering. I expect that I am not the only one. Stop questioning her words and start supporting people who have the balls to talk about what is often the most scary and embarrassing thing they will ever have to admit.

Finally, if you are struggling, please reach out. Confide in someone you trust, speak to a professional or pick up the phone to a helpline. You will not get the response Meghan has. You will be supported, and loved, and heard. Don’t suffer in silence, there are so many people who will be able to relate and understand how you feel, and support you in your recovery. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it may feel right now.

Sophie
If you are in crisis and need immediate support

Please dial 111 or call the Samaritans on 116 123 for free.  Some may find writing an email could be a calm and safe way to work through what’s on your mind. Especially if it feels too upsetting to talk about on the phone.  You can email the Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.  Samaritans volunteers answer each email that comes through.

You can also contact Mind. Find details here of you local Mind branch here.

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