YOUR STORIES: Take Off The Mask – Be Brutally Honest

A few years ago, things looked bleak for Rock Out Stand Out editor in chief and founder Lotty Whittingham. Over the years, she found two things to be helpful; therapy and being brutally honest with her feelings. Here is her story.

It’s coming up to four years since I decided to open up how I was truly feeling and managed to seek professional help. September 2015 was an awful time for my mental health. I kept on thinking about hurting myself, others and what it would have been like if I wasn’t around. Logically, these are things I know I wouldn’t do but these thoughts kept on popping up. It got to a point where I thought this was normal and thought to myself “what’s the point of life if you’re just miserable the whole time?”.

It was when I nearly started to self-harm for real that I realised I needed to speak up and seek help. Something in my gut told me that this wasn’t normal and that I needed to tell someone what was going on. What was I going to say? I was very worried that these feelings would be fobbed off as “simply just being in your head”.

Image Courtesy of Doodlebot Ilustration

To my relief when I did open up, I was taken seriously. I went to see my GP who in turn pointed me in the right direction towards help.

I felt a whole weight lift off my shoulders during my first counselling session. It was a relief to have my feelings acknowledged and they reassured me that my feelings were valid. It was a relief not to be fobbed off with the usual “well everyone gets like that” or “well that’s life.”

The theme of this Mental Health Awareness day is Suicide Prevention. Having lost a friend to suicide and having had some of my friends attempt suicide, I know how something like this can turn your life upside down. I never attempted it myself but I have experienced suicidal thoughts previously. Just the thoughts alone can make you feel alone and frightened.

For me personally, I felt the following:

  • I felt like a burden, I didn’t want to worry other people with my problems.
  • I felt stupid and ashamed, everyone else seemed to be managing and coping just fine.
  • I felt lonely; those voices in my head convinced me that nobody would understand what I was going through.

With these feelings in mind, I hope this will help people to understand why it’s difficult to open up about when you feel this way. I was made to feel like I was overreacting.

Fast forward to the present day after years of therapy, I am feeling a lot better. I still have paths to venture down and a long way to go but I am so much further from where I was. I also know for sure where I don’t want to be mentally and I feel I am now good at recognising the signs when it gets bad again.

One thing I have found to be particularly helpful over the years is being around the right people. Whether or not it’s because awareness has increased, I have found the majority of people will listen to and acknowledge your feelings. It’s great to have a significant other, friends and family members who can tell instantly when I’m not OK even when I say I am. It’s refreshing when they sit and listen without question.

CV Tracey Hurst -2019.1 2

I think a lot of us resort to using the default phrase “I’m fine” when we’re asked how we are. For me personally, I often say it because either I don’t want to talk about it or I don’t want to burden others with my problems. Over the past year however, I have found being brutally honest really helpful and refreshing. 

I know this has been said a lot recently but it’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to feel the things you feel and those feelings are valid. In order to find the right people who will listen and acknowledge how you’re feeling, start being brutally honest. I know it’s easier said than done but it’s refreshing when these honest truths about your feelings are out in the open.

Words: Lotty Whittingham

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, here are some useful websites below:

PAPYRUS – Provides information and support for anyone under 35 who is struggling with suicidal feelings, or anyone concerned about a young person who might be struggling.

CALM – Provides listening services, information and support for men at risk of suicide.

Samaritans – 24-hour emotional support for anyone struggling to cope.

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