Blue Monday

Blue Monday – the Mondayest Monday out of all the Mondays in the calendar

December is supposedly the most wonderful time of the year. Try as you might, it is incredibly hard not to get caught up in Christmas merriment, so it’s hardly surprising that when we are catapulted into the month of January, it can seem a little unwelcoming in comparison to its festive neighbour.

January is, arguably, the most depressing time of the year. This is corroborated by the fact it has even been awarded it’s own depression day – ‘Blue Monday’ (as if Mondays weren’t bad enough), which falls on the third Monday of the month. Yes, that’s today! Lucky us!

Why has it earned itself such a title? A combination of winter darkness, frosty weather, post-Christmas gloom (the result of over-eating/over-spending) and freshly failed New Year’s resolutions can leave us all feeling a little deflated and demotivated.

Even the television turns on us; no longer are we being visually tempted to indulge in scrumptious food, lavish gifts and the great indoors, we are now being instructed to detox, save, cleanse and buy the latest detox teas… like now.

The good news is, in very simple terms, there is actually no hard evidence to support the claim that the 18th January is the most depressing day of the year.

So let’s prove it wrong!

Here are our top 8 tips for getting through Blue Monday and the rest of the month:

The January Guide

1. Lower your expectations of yourself.

All too often we are our own worst critics; setting goals and resolutions for a new year is a great motivator, but don’t let those goals turn into beating sticks if you fall short. Be supportive of yourself.

2. Do something for someone else.

An act of kindness is not only a great way to give yourself a morale boost, but you will also cheer-up someone you care about in the process! Focusing on someone else’s needs will also serve as a welcome distraction from your own.

3. Keep it simple.

January can be a stressful month so look at ways to keep your life simple.

Don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do and practise honesty with your family and friends so they know how you are truly feeling. You will feel more connected and closer to them through this honesty.

4. Socialise.

Making plans to do things you enjoy or just seeing friends is a great way of boosting your overall well-being and happiness.

asleep, train, window

5. Practise mindfulness or meditation.

The only wrong way to meditate is to not do it at all, so why not give it a go? Taking the time to sit still with yourself – however busy or calm your head chatter is – is proven to have a multitude of benefits on your mental health.

Just like your body needs attention and exercise, so does your mind.

6. Gratitude.

It is can be so easy to forget the things in our lives we have to be grateful for, especially in a month like January.

Actively thinking of things we are grateful for can transform a glass empty kind of moment into a glass full kind of moment. It can help add a little bit of perspective when we need it most.

7. Action to the contrary.

What we need to do and what we want to do can feel very conflicting. Nine times out of ten, the best action to take can feel the most counter-intuitive.

Get up, get dressed and fake it ’til you make it! This can work in helping lift our mood. Where the body leads the mind follows.

So get going and gently put one foot in front of the other.

8. Reach out.

It might be a shiny new year but that thing that has been playing on your mind, or keeping you up at night won’t have magically disappeared because it’s now 2021.

If you feel like you need it, be brave and get some support here at Ditch the Label.

Don’t suffer in silence, we care and want to help…..whatever month of the year it is!

Join the support community

If you are currently feeling suicidal, click here for information on where to get urgent support.

Wait

Try to decide not to do anything to hurt yourself right now. Sometimes it can help to take one day at a time. If that feels too overwhelming, try taking one hour at a time, or five minutes at a time. Many, many people who have had suicidal thoughts in the past write and talk about how they’re so very relieved that they waited, and are happy to still be alive today.

Avoid being alone

It can be tempting to isolate ourselves when we feel this low. However, this could put you at greater danger and could feel even more overwhelming. Try to connect with other people who can help you stay safe. Try to let people know that you’re struggling and ask for help. If you don’t have anyone in your life you can talk to right now, remember there are lots of free helplines out there to support you.

Avoid things that make you feel worse

Try to avoid sad movies/songs/triggering photos or looking at all the fun everyone else seems to be having on social media. This may seem obvious, but, as humans, when we feel low we can end up doing things that make us feel worse.

For help in a mental health crisis, read this.

Keep safe

Although it may be tempting, avoid alcohol and drugs, as they can increase depression and make it more difficult to stay safe. This is a very vulnerable time for you so it’s important you do what you can to stay safe.

Take care of yourself

When our emotions are all over the place it can be difficult to look after ourselves. Try to remember that not sleeping, eating or exercising will actually make you feel worse. I know it probably feels difficult to do right now, but trying to get back into a routine of looking after yourself will help keep your suicidal thoughts at bay.

Make a safety plan

It might help you to make a safety plan where you write down steps to follow if you feel in crisis, e.g. who you will call, what makes you feel calm, and where you feel safe. Papyrus have a great free template here: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Suicide-Safety-Plan-Template-1.pdf 

Feelings are not permanent 

It can feel terrifying and very stressful having suicidal thoughts running through your mind. To help ease this pressure remember that even if your situation is not changing any time soon, your thoughts and feelings about it can and will change. At first, it will very likely seem impossible that these dark thoughts will move away, but trust me, no feeling lasts forever. 

Do what you love

Think about all the things you love, or used to love doing. Do you love sports, playing video games, cooking, dancing, photography, reading, going to gigs, watching movies?  Are there new hobbies you’d like to try? Finding or re-connecting with the things you love will help you find meaning and purpose, which makes life worth living. 

For more help with this, check out our Mental Health Hub here
Get more from Chloe on this issue here

Image of the author, Chloe Foster

Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.

Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
Website: www.sussexrainbowcounselling.com

In its mildest form, depression can simply mean feeling low. For most people, feeling sad from time to time is just a natural part of life.

However, for some of us, feelings of sadness, despair and melancholia are present on a daily basis and can prevent us from living our normal lives.

If you can relate to this, it could mean you are suffering from depression and should seek help from a GP or therapist.

It is nothing to be ashamed of, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health issue in our lifetime, and depression is one of the most common illnesses.

However, despite this fact, the stigma that still surrounds mental health can often hinder people’s understanding of depression; some may feel awkward towards, or unable to help those who are experiencing it.

sadness, alleyway, person, hair covering face

Remember that not everybody will feel comfortable asking for help, but there are some signs you can look out for, including (but not limited to):

  • Avoidance of social events
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Unexplained anger and irritability
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Changes in their appetite/weight.

So what should you do to help and support somebody suffering with depression?

Here are 5 ways in which you can help someone who may be suffering from depression.

1. Compassion

Compassion really is key in helping someone to recover from any illness. Whether it is encouraging them to do something that might help them cope with their illness, like seeking out appropriate treatment, or offering to do something they are struggling with – even if it is just washing up the dishes!

You could encourage them gently to talk about their feelings or make them aware that you totally understand if they don’t want to open up just yet. Reassure them that their situation is going to get better and let them know you are there to support them no matter what.

person standing among trees

2. Understanding 

They are going through a really difficult time, and their behaviour may seem erratic and unpredictable – it’s likely they’ll behave in ways which seem out of character to you. For example, they may be acting more irritable or reckless, and this kind of behaviour is liable to be misunderstood by others who do not know what is really going on. 

It is not always easy when dealing with the negativity, hostility, and moodiness that go hand in hand with depression, but understand that they don’t necessarily mean what they are saying/doing in their current state of mind. 

Therefore, it’s important you don’t take it personally or blame them; try reassuring them instead. If they are displaying unusual, impulsive behaviours, try not to judge them but do try your best to ensure their safety.

Perhaps, when they are in a calmer state, it might be a good idea to help them in coming up with alternative and healthier strategies to deal with these impulses.

dark skies, clouds, silhouette of a person looking over the sea

3. But, don’t become a psychologist…

…and start diagnosing them or trying to give advice beyond your knowledge – that is best left to the professionals. Just listen to them, believe everything they tell you and let them know you’ll love and support them every step of the way.

Don’t force treatment on them, but remember to seek further help immediately if they’re feeling suicidal or showing no willingness to get better; if you feel there is a risk of immediate danger – tell a trusted adult or call 999.

You can always contact Ditch the Label or other charities like Samaritans or Mind if you feel you need guidance on this matter. Supporting someone with depression can be stressful and frustrating so be careful not to neglect your own needs too.

Taking time to look after yourself is really important; talk to others about how you’re feeling or consider joining a local support group with people who are also in a similar situation to you.

4. Have patience

Recovering from depression can take a long time and it is important that everyone goes at their own pace; this illness, for many, is an ongoing battle throughout their lifetime and they’ll have to gradually learn how to manage, so be prepared for relapses. It is important to remember that even if they’ve started treatment, it may be a long time before they really start to feel better. Therefore, having patience is really important.

What they really need at this point, is your genuine love and support. Show them how much you care by listening to them and appreciating them for who they are. They may feel like they’ve got no one on their side during this process, so it’s really important that you are!

5. Spend time with them

Someone with depression will have both good and bad days. They might show less interest in the things they used to enjoy, and might not always feel like going out – but if they do feel up to hanging out with you, then try and spend time with them by doing things you both used to enjoy. 

Keeping them occupied and offering them distractions where you can is really important, but make sure these are either within, or close to their comfort zone.

Equally, remember that sometimes they’ll just want to be left alone and that’s okay too. Just check in with them regularly by dropping them a message to let them know you’re there for them when/ if they need you.


If you ever need help, guidance or someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to join our anonymous Community.

The winter blues…

As the dreary weather sets in, the days get shorter and the nights colder. You might start feeling a little worse-for-wear in the emotional department. You may also experience tiredness, fatigue, not wanting to leave the house, changes in your appetite, sleep problems or anxiety – the list goes on. It’s easy to dismiss it as laziness or a spot of ‘Winter Blues’ as we look back with nostalgia to the summer months but feeling rubbish in winter is, in fact, a real thing.

SADness comes with the seasons

In Fact, winter Blues is a real thing and it’s called SAD – A fitting acronym for a pretty sucky thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s a type of depression which comes and goes with the seasons throughout the year.  Those who suffer from SAD, experience symptoms of depression coinciding with a particular season, usually winter, but report to feel fine during the rest of the year.

SAD is often overlooked and not taken seriously because of lack of understanding. Doesn’t everyone get a bit down in the winter? Doesn’t everyone resent leaving their cosy warm beds on a cold winter morning? Sure, but Seasonal Affective Disorder is a little more complicated than a reluctance to switch off Netflix when it’s raining outside.

What is S.A.D according to Science?

There are actually a whole bunch of neurological things going on in our brains that can be linked to SAD. The most common theory is that there are various hormones affecting how we function throughout the day. The hormone  ‘Melatonin’,  which controls our sleep cycle, is thought to be “phase-delayed” in people with Sad, meaning it is secreted at the wrong times of the day, making us feel sluggish and tired most of the time. (The Guardian, 2017)

SAD is also said to be brought on by lack of sunlight which is more prevalent in Winter with the shorter days. Studies have shown that our brains release Serotonin according to the time of day which is directly influenced and regulated by light. As blue light hits the retina in the eye, it triggers the release of Serotonin in the brain. So, in Winter when there is far less sunlight, our brains are tricked into thinking it’s still night time, causing a lack of serotonin and therefore a feeling of depression. We all know that feeling when we wake up and its dark and leave school or work in the dark.😴 Unsurprisingly, the condition is commonly reported in northern countries where there are periods of prolonged darkness or shorter periods of daylight.

What is S.A.D according to History?

Historically, the majority of humans commonly worked outdoors so we got plenty of natural sunlight. Nowadays, however, we spend the majority of our time in the day at school, college or work under artificial lighting and often don’t leave until after dark. This means we are much more susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Humans, in general, spend less time outdoors. With the invention of TV, computers, iPads, and tablets, there is less incentive to go out because we have everything we need for entertainment within the home, meaning we often miss the light triggers that our bodies need to stay happy and healthy.

Here’s how to turn that frown upside down 🙃

Light

The trick is to try to get as much natural sunlight as possible. Go for a walk at lunch and be outside more on the weekends. Alternatively, Bright Light Therapy is a common treatment of SAD. It essentially tricks our brains into producing more serotonin by using a special lamp which emits a bright fluorescent light emulating that of the Sun.

These are called ‘Sad Lamps’ and are specially made for the purpose of treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, using any other light for this purpose could cause serious damage to your eyes and health.

Eat

As with any other health issue, what we eat has a lot to do with how we feel. Remember that your body runs on fuel just like a car, if you put bad fuel in, you’ll only get poor performance out. Eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of fresh, green ingredients will certainly make you feel better.

Similarly, if you are not eating enough, you are likely to feel sluggish, weak and sleepy. In the winter, we use more energy to keep ourselves warm so it makes sense that we’d have a slightly bigger appetite in the later months. Make sure you’re refuelling regularly and eating three, well-balanced meals a day.

Exercise

Exercise makes us feel good. It might not feel like it at the time but when we exercise our brains release chemicals called Endorphins which trigger good feelings of positivity and elation. It’s really important to stay active, even if it’s raining!

See a GP

If you’re concerned about your mental health or think you might have SAD, make sure you see your doctor. We can’t give you medical advice but your doctor can! Looking after your mental health is very important, we can’t stress this enough: you are allowed to ask for help.

Want to know more? Check out what the NHS says about S.A.D

Dealing with life after depression is not always straightforward. You might feel like everything should be back to how things were before straight away, but this journey is not linear, and you could feel frustrated that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows now that you are doing a bit better. That’s why we’ve got this guide together – to help you manage expectations and understand what the journey might require from you. 

Don’t expect everything to be perfect

Journeys like this one take time, and just because you have come this far, doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to do. We aren’t saying you can’t do everything, and do it well, but instead that it’s common for us to think everything will be perfect when we feel healed. But, this is not the case. Life is life, and shit happens, and now is a great time to start building some resilience and self-esteem. 

For tips on how to build self-esteem, read this

It’s OK to have bad days still

Just because you might have completed part of your journey out of your depression, it doesn’t mean you are not allowed to have days when you feel down or anxious. The trick is not to dwell on the small stuff, and instead focus on the bigger picture. You have come really far, remember that. 

Take your time getting back into stuff

Rushing into doing all the stuff you used to do or trying to get loads of stuff done might not have the effect you would think. It’s important to keep busy, but overloading yourself might cause more anxiety and panic than it actually helps. 

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Try not to load on the pressure to be good all the time and back to normal, whatever normal even is. Take your time, pace yourself, connect with a handful of people that you can trust. Don’t feel like you have to overperform at work or school, and just try to keep doing a little better and a little more every single day. 

Keep those you love close 

There are going to be ups and downs to this journey, that’s just a fact of life. When we are doing better emotionally and mentally, we might feel tempted to put distance between who we are now and who we were before. But the thing is, we might end up keeping those who have backed us through the hard times at arm’s length, simply because we associate them with the hard times. But, they have been there through thick and thin, and you might need them again.  

For more information on dealing with depression, visit our mental health hub here

It’s okay to feel scared

If a mate tells you suicide is on their mind it can feel very scary. Remember this is a normal human feeling. We want our friends to stay alive and having this kind of conversation can feel very scary for everyone, even me, and I’m a counsellor! You don’t have to hide that you’re scared, as showing your emotions will show your friend how much you care.

It’s okay to not know what to say

Not knowing what to say is a very human response. You are very likely feeling a lot of different emotions in that moment, like shock, fear and sadness. It’s good to remember, though, that there’s no perfect script of what to say.

Listen

Try to focus on listening. Your friend has told you this so it’s likely they want to tell you more about how they’re feeling. By listening, you show you care and your friend may well feel less burdened with this secret.

Believe them

It’s a myth that people who talk about suicide are not serious. However, although most won’t actually act out their thoughts, their feelings of wanting to die could be very real. 

It’s not your fault

Don’t blame yourself if you’ve had an argument. We’re not responsible for other people and how they might react. People often think about suicide when loads of things have gone wrong all at once and they’re finding it difficult to cope and see a future. So it’s very likely there’s more going on in your friend’s life than just that one thing. 

A part of your friend wants to live

The fact that they’re confiding in you means a part of them wants to live. Your friend has some hope left to live and just needs some help to build up that hope.

You are not alone

It’s okay to reach out and get support for yourself at this difficult time. You’ve probably heard of the free helpline The Samaritans, but did you know they also support people worried about someone else who is thinking about suicide?

The Samaritans (open all day every day): call free 116 123

Help is Available 

Help is available for your friend. Try to encourage your friend to talk to more people so you’re not both isolated with this. Remind your friend that they could talk to their GP or mental health worker (if they have one) or try to get some counselling. You may want to offer to go with them to an appointment with a professional. There are also loads of free resources online. Some free resources include:

Papyrus
Prevention of young suicide, for the under 35s
www.papyrus-uk.org

Stay Alive app
www.prevent-suicide.org.uk/find-help-now/stay-alive-app/

CALM helpline (The Campaign Against Living Miserably)
https://www.thecalmzone.net/

Image of the author, Chloe Foster

Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.

Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
Website: www.sussexrainbowcounselling.com

It’s Men’s Health Week, and basketball player Brendan Okoronkwo talks about what he learned through dealing with mental health issues.

I’m struggling with depression”. The hardest four words I’ve had to say.

There was no specific moment in my life that made me depressed. I think it was more a culmination of life events combined with a lack of recognition of the issues, and not allowing myself time to deal. Why? Because I’m a man, that’s what we do. We’re supposed to be strong, right? We are the ones meant to protect others; we should have the answers in difficult times. That’s what I always believed anyway. Despite all the awesome work being done to break down this stigma, it’s still everywhere you look. 

I can’t remember what made me finally start talking about it. I think frustration that bottling up my emotions didn’t go so well when I tried it. I wish I knew then what I know now about the whole thing though – maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long if I did. 

1) I will not be judged

I’m the loud one in the family, always smiling, always playing pranks, a semi-professional basketball player. I moved away from home for sunny Brighton after uni and found my way into a potentially high paying sales job in recruitment meaning I talk to strangers pretty much all day every day. 

How can you be depressed? There are people with worse life situations than you? Just cheer up, you’ll be fine! But you’re always so smiley, what’s changed?

When I sat my family down to tell them those four words, these are just some of the million responses that ran through my mind.

Reality? Silence. Only for a few seconds, I’m sure it was a lot to take in. Then my mum cried, not from shame but because she knew how hard that was for me to share. We hugged, and I honestly felt like I’d taken off a backpack full of bricks I’d been carrying around for months at that moment. My dad who I had never had a conversation anywhere close to this about feelings started to call me every other day for at least 3 months to talk or sometimes just a quick hello. I don’t think he knows how much that meant to just have someone. 


2) I can break and make new habits

Sharing gave me safe spaces around me which means I can now recognise when things get bad. I started to look at my habits and how I could make new ‘mini-routines’ to accommodate my mental health. For example, when dealing with lack of rest/sleep, I gave myself a ‘phone curfew’ before bed and replaced the mindless scrolling with meditation and reading. 

Another thing I struggled with was feeling distant in social situations. When meeting groups of people (friends or strangers) I make sure I say hello to everyone individually. Sounds small but it means I’m engaged at the start of the interaction, better chance to stay present throughout.

My favourite mini routine is my pre-game basketball routine. Basketball has been a big part of my life, I’ve made lifetime friends through playing and watching and I went to uni partly because of basketball. When I started struggling with my mental health, I lost the passion for it, and everything seemed harder. One time it took me 40 minutes to tie my laces before the game I almost missed the start! I made this routine after that day. 

Before every game I warm up without my jersey on, just a warm up top. Then when we’re about to walk out on the court to start the game, I put my jersey on and wipe my feet on the lines at the corner of the court and high-five all my team mates. My jersey is like a superhero cape, look what Clark Kent can do when he’s dressed in blue and red! I’m wiping my feet of any emotions I have from that day or week (good or bad), same way you would if you got home with mud on your shoes – leave it outside! I’m allowing myself to enjoy the moment without distraction. The high-fives are me saying thank you to my team mates and coach for supporting me when I needed it.

A soon as the game starts, I’m fully present, appreciating the people around me and letting myself get lost in something creative.

3) I am not alone

I told my family, I told close friends, I told my boss, I told my basketball coach. Everyone had a story to share on mental health. It was amazing to hear their experiences. It made me realise, people are having these conversations, men are having these conversations! But it seems that they aren’t happening until things get pretty bad. 

Good news is though, the conversations are getting louder and it’s starting to be brought into the public eye more. Even some NBA players have been sharing their journeys with mental health like Kevin Love, Nate Robinson and DeMar Derozen. 

We all experience the same issues in life – pressure, stress, frustration. Share your story, you’ll be surprised the places you will find support and advice when you do.


4) I can help others one day

From feeling too scared to express how I truly felt, I’m now at a place where I can be open about my journey and since I have been speaking about it, I have had friends, family, people online have reached out with a question or concern. All I have to do is think about the people that gave time to me, the value I received from talking to feel the ability to share my story.

I hope people feel that they are able to talk about their mental health when they do need to, because I do not regret opening up about my struggles. There is no shame, there is no embarrassment asking for help.

Which reminds me…

5) The stigma is not real

Men are brave by sharing how they feel

Men should know asking for help is a sign of strength

Men can remove the stigma and support each other

I remind myself of these all the time. The day we can offer each other help with mental health the same way as if a friend turned to us with a broken leg will be a great day. 

If you are struggling with mental health, and feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

So, if you have anxiety, you are probably pretty used to hearing certain stuff. It’s usually super well-meaning people like family and friends who, whilst lovely, don’t quite get it. We decided that everyone deserves a bit of a giggle, so we put together a list of 8 of the most annoying things you are totally sick of hearing from people, complete with GIFs galore! 

“Just come out”

 

Usually from a friend, this one is always pretty hard to deal with, especially if they aren’t a close friend that you feel comfortable discussing your anxiety with. Pretty shit when the idea of going to the shops sounds like bloody torture right? If you really don’t feel like going somewhere with them and can’t exactly explain why, have a few easy to remember excuses in the back of your mind to use, or set up a chilled out sofa session with them so you don’t have to deal but still get your quality time.

“It’s fine”

 

This one is probably coming from someone who is worried about you but doesn’t know what to say or if they are going to make it worse. It might be worth having a conversation with them about it or if it’s a family member, maybe even having your Doctor explain it to them if they are really struggling with the idea. That way, they will be fully clued up on in the ins and outs of anxiety and should hopefully no longer see it as nothing.

“Don’t worry”

 

“Oh amazing! Thanks so much for that – you telling me to stop worrying about it has cured my anxiety completely and I can now go through my life with absolutely no concerns or mental health issues because you said that! You are wizard my friend! You should travel the globe doing this!” *screams internally*

“Cheer up” / “Smile”

 

Ugh. No. You are your own person and entitled to feel exactly how you want to in that moment – no one else owns your emotions, and cannot tell you how to feel at any point in your life.

“It’s all in your head”

 

To quote the late great Albus Dumbledore; ‘Of course it is happening in your head. But why on earth should that mean that it’s not real?’

“You seem normal to me” 

 

This one usually comes from someone who doesn’t understand the ups and downs associated with pretty much any mental health issue. Of course, you can feel fine some days, and days when you don’t, like literally everyone else on the planet. Besides, what is even ‘normal’ anyway?!

“Stop being so dramatic” 

 

For some people who don’t understand anxiety, it can look like you are being dramatic or making a fuss over nothing. This is just because they don’t get it. But it’s ok – try to make them understand. Pick a safe quiet place and talk to them about it. Or if you don’t feel comfortable explaining it to them face to face, send them an article about the symptoms and causes of anxiety to try to open their eyes to the realities of living with an anxiety disorder. 

 “Man up”

 

This is literally the worst. It’s saying stuff like this why toxic masculinity exists. No one needs to ‘man up’ at all (like, what does that even MEAN anyway?), but just get the help they need and deserve. If someone uses this as a reason why you should be ok, calmly sit them down and explain to them that anxiety can be a pretty crippling disorder, and that saying stuff like this isn’t going to make it any better. 

If you have anxiety or have anything else you want to talk about, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

We are not ashamed…

People are tired of hiding their mental illnesses. Tired of pretending to have a cold for the fifth time this year, instead of disclosing the real reason to employers why they’re off sick again. Tired of explaining why they can’t get out of bed. Tired of explaining why yesterday, they were fine but today, they’re not. Tired of making up excuses for the medication they’re taking. Tired of convincing themselves, they are fine. Tired of convincing their friends that they’re fine. Tired of being ashamed of their mental states. Shame is standing in our way and stopping us from accessing support when we need it the most…

Here are 10 reasons why you should never be ashamed of your mental illness.

1. Some of the most successful, impactful and intelligent people of all time had mild to severe mental illnesses. To name a few…

  • Martin Luther King Jr had depression
  • Princess Diana suffered from depression and bulimia
  • Isaac Newton is recorded to have shown signs of bipolar, psychotic episodes and potential autism
  • Kurt Cobain had ADHD and bipolar
  • John Nash had schizophrenia
  • Florence Nightingale had bipolar
  • Marilyn Monroe was never officially or publicly diagnosed but showed signs of bipolar and borderline personality disorder

2. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives. That’s one-quarter of the world’s population.

3. We’re not ashamed when our bodies get sick, so why should we be ashamed when our minds aren’t in top form? We should be looking after our mental health in the same way we look after our physical health.

4. Because there is no normal – our minds are complex things and no single brain is the same.

5. You might think, “Jeeeeze, what do they have to be depressed about 🙄…” well, newsflash: clinical depression is not circumstantial. It is a neurological issue that does not take your material possessions, circumstances or life situations into account – mental illness, unlike many things in life, does not discriminate: nobody is immune.

6. It’s time to reframe the way we see mental illness. Getting help for your mental health is not a sign of weakness. Its a sign of strength.

7. Shame is pretty much guaranteed to make things worse. Feelings of shame are proven have detrimental effects on our mental and physical health. Brush that shame aside people, ain’t nobody got time for that!

8. Because it’s no ones fault. No one asks to be depressed and it is definitely not a choice we make. Saying to your depressed friend… “dude, just snap out of it” is literally one of the worst things you can say.

9. The more we talk about mental health, the more ok it becomes. By talking about your mental illness you encourage others to care for their own. The stigma of mental health is having catastrophic effects on people’s lives because we are too ashamed to talk about it and get help. Check out this article for more info…

10. Your mental health doesn’t define you. Don’t let your mental illness become who you are, it is just one aspect of you but always remember that you are more than your depression, anxiety or OCD.

Start a conversation about mental health today – Join the Ditch the Label community and start talking.

Depression doesn’t take your personal circumstances into account. It doesn’t care what car you drive, it doesn’t care about race or religion or where you were born. It doesn’t care about your upbringing or whether or not you are in a relationship. Depression indiscriminately picks people, regardless of what they have or have not been through.

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 350 million people worldwide suffer with Depression. That’s a whole lotta people being told to ‘cheer up’ 🙄

Even if you have the best of intentions, sometimes its hard to know what to say to a person with depression. Here are some rather questionable common phrases that get thrown around which we all need to stop saying forever:

1. “Snap out of it”

Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t just about feeling sorry for yourself. It is in fact, a clinical condition which a causes a person to feel extremely low for extended periods of time – regardless of their circumstances. When it comes to depression, there is no quick fix – if only it was as simple as snapping out of it! 

Try instead: How can I help you?

2. “You’ve got nothing to be depressed about”

Clinical depression doesn’t pick and choose it’s victims. You could have the best life in the world but still suffer with depression. 

Try instead: I’m sorry you’re struggling, let me help.

3. “Aren’t you being a bit dramatic?”

There are psychological, physical and social symptoms of depression which permeate every aspect of a person’s life from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to sleep. But it doesn’t stop there, people with depression often have trouble sleeping too. This isn’t theatrics, this is life. 

Try Instead: I didn’t realise, you can talk to me now.

4. “It’s just in your head”

Well yeah, it is a mental disorder so depression lies within our brains but by saying ‘it’s just in your head’ you imply that it’s something trivial which can be controlled. 

Try Instead: Together we’ll get through this – I’ve got your back.

5. “Man up”

With Suicide being the biggest killer of men under 40, this is probably one of the most toxic things you can say to a guy – not cool. 

Try Instead: I know you’re strong enough to get through this.

6. “You don’t look sick”

Depression is an invisible illness. You can’t always see it from the outside but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Try Instead: Let’s hang out, when you feel ready.

7. “Maybe you just need to make some changes”

If only it was as easy as getting a new hairdo or redecorating. 

Try Instead: You are not alone, I’m here for you.

8. “You’re being a bit selfish”

Despite the severity of this disorder, too many people still don’t quite ‘get’ it. Depression is not a choice and there is no ‘on/off’ switch. 

Try Instead: I don’t like seeing you like this, I want to help.

9. “You’re being so ungrateful”

We’re are all affected by things differently. When depression hits, its difficult to see the silver lining – that doesn’t mean that gratitude and depression can’t coexist. 

Try Instead: Let’s focus on the positive together.

If you’re worried about a mate, have a read of this article or have a chat with a digital mentor on the Ditch the Label community to get advice on how to help.