The thing about mental health which I learnt and am still learning is its permanency. Whether we want it to or not, it stays with us throughout our lives which to me really emphasises the importance of looking after it. I really struggled with my mental health just over a year ago. I found out I am living with a condition called endometriosis. Despite so many women in the UK not knowing what it is, endometriosis surprisingly effects two in ten women. Living with the side effect of endometriosis: infertility, negatively affected my self-worth and led me to start measuring my value in what I could or could not do as opposed to who I am.
This feeling of not being able to do something that the majority of women can do so easily, without deliberation even perhaps, left me feeling low and isolated for months. I let so much time pass of feeling like I had lost my entire identity and who I was. I rejected suggestions from a couple of the people closest to me that I needed to speak to someone professional. This stigma that is too often perpetuated and validated by society that our feelings and conflictions are not valid enough to vocalise had me running from help and pushing those away whom I loved the most.
Making the ask for me meant divorcing from the stigma that I had cemented in my brain. Allowing myself to understand that vocalising my thoughts and feelings would not weaken me but could instead help me. And the truth is, I could not recommend therapy to anyone enough. Speaking to someone completely outside of your family and social circle, with no pretence or previous context helps in rationalising your feelings so much. If I could speak to my younger self, I would say seek help earlier. Speak earlier. And don’t be afraid of feeling things. Everyone does. Furthermore, I would encourage myself to question the social and cultural norms set in Ireland and beyond that make women feel their sole purpose in life is to start a family. I would also try to be more of a martyr for the many many other paths our lives can take.