Mental health is anything BUT black and white... the premise of this year’s World Mental Health Campaign #BehindTheFilter which was compiled by 14 of London’s biggest Fitness and Wellness influencers for World Mental Health Day 2017, including myself.
And through the emotion, the struggle and the tears I could finally see some similarities between the black and white picture staring back at me, and the person standing in-front of the screen.
There are similarities – we have to learn that, just like the photo, there are dark parts of us, just as much as there are light and understanding the difference and learning to accept all parts is the key in being true to yourself. So why is that only a third of people suffering from depression actually seek help?
It took me a long time to be comfortable enough to be open and honest about my mental health both on and offline, and more importantly how I was struggling.
For a huge portion of my life I was too scared to speak about how I was feeling, how I was drowning behind the constant stream of stress, illness and life and how I always felt clouded. I pushed the thoughts away and hid them within for my own fear of misunderstanding them.
I was always too scared to speak about anything surrounding mental health, or anything remotely close to the topic. Scared of being branded weak, a failure, a disappointment. Worried that people would laugh not only behind my back but in my face too. That people would judge me, that ultimately by admitting my faults I would make myself unapproachable, unlikable and unlovable.
It’s only when I finally allowed myself the opportunity to really understand what I was going through and that by admitting my struggles and asking for help I had created an entire mountain out of a mole hill deep inside my own head. These things that I was so scared about for so long, were nothing but my own fears created and grown by my own issues.
It may seem cliché, it may seem silly, it may seem outdated - but please do NOT ever suffer in silence. Speak to yourself. Speak to your pets. Speak to your doctors, your friends and your families. Speak to those who love you and those that don’t even know you. Speak to those who want to listen.
Talking about your fears, your challenges, your worries and insecurities – being open and talking about your mental health, for me, and a lot of the others, was the best way to make it real and something that we could tackle. Physically speaking and hearing the words out loud, made me realise that it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to be scared. What is not okay is to suffer alone! The Instagram campaign that happened across the span of today (World Mental Health Day 10th October 2017) and hit over half a million followers in a few hours was entirely self-funded and planned by Mental Health Advocate Emily Warbarton-Adams, photographer Domenic Pendino and Make-Up and Hair Stylist Luciana Andrino to show that it’s okay to be okay, it’s okay to be you and it’s okay to show people your true self.
One without all the makeup, the filters and the mask.
I completely struggled during this whole experience, but I have come out the other side feeling elevated and inspired. I faced some of my biggest fears and allowed people to see the real, honest and raw version of myself, the one that I try to hide away so often and guess what… I didn’t explode and the world still went around!
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be ‘perfect’ that we sometimes forget the impact we have on not only ourselves but our future selves and those who look up to us.
This campaign got people speaking about mental health, in a positive way. Showing anyone who is suffering that you are never alone. When we stand together, we stand strong, and together we are strong enough to take on anything.
Read more about the other girls who took part in the #WMHD photoshoot.