Mental illness

Some people feel it’s their fault if they are miserable or struggling. It is never your fault. Nor is it bad or wrong to be feeling down, depressed or mentally unwell. Most of us will have mental health issues at some point and that is a normal response to psychological pressures, not something to be ashamed of any more than a broken arm as a result of an accident would be shameful. Read our page on getting help.

According to a 2016 report, girls in particular are turning more than ever to behaviours like self harming or eating disorders as a way to control uncomfortable and often overwhelming feelings. The report’s findings highlight the particular difficulties girls face growing up today.

There is a way to deal with it, and it might surprise you: the only way to really gain control is to allow the difficult feelings to be heard and to ‘own them’. It’s like learning to drive a car – you get to take the wheel of life and you are the one who makes the decisions about where to go.

Modern life brings its own particular pressures and sometimes they can seem too big to deal with, especially as social media makes everything so available and immediate but the underlying principle is the same as it’s ever been: difficulties are there to teach us about how to handle life. Responses to pressure, like depression and anxiety, are not things people do on purpose. They are ways your psyche tries to flag up the underlying core problems.

However it is your responsibility to get help, because our feelings don’t belong to anyone else but ourselves and we need to nurture and care for them, especially when we feel things are overwhelming. There’s a hidden power within you that you can seek in order to find ways to overcome emotional pain. As we grow up, we need to take on more and more of this ‘self-parenting’ and it feels great when we do.

‘Life happens’ all the time, it’s how we deal with it that matters. There’s no avoidance, so we might as well stare life in the face and build our emotional intelligence. Travel broadens the mind – perhaps the greatest favour we can do for ourselves and for the good of humankind, is to travel within.

The most important relationship to be in is with ourselves. Our emotional health is all about knowing ourselves, listening to the whispers from the feeling self that are there to help direct us but sometimes we need a bit of help tuning in and listening to and understanding those messages. Comments from friends and other people who care for us, our dreams, other people’s wisdom, information resources and counsellors are sources of potential tuning-in.