‘I like the title souls with a story because everyone has their own story to tell, it’s our individual experiences which moulds us into individuals… from learning about others, we learn about ourselves’.
Wednesday, I met with Christian, a young man studying at Cardiff University, South Wales; a young man who has been very brave by being open and honest in his own, personal blog about his recent struggles with depression. He tells me that he’s been living with depression for around 8 months; including feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and days where he questions his own worth. We talked about how different he sees the world during days of darkness, and how he is learning to deal with things day by day. He says:
”It all came to a head at one point in January – I was walking around the house, clutching onto the banister, not being able to stop sobbing because I felt so low. I was questioning myself, why do I feel like this? Why do I constantly doubt myself? It was at this point that I sought help”.
Christian tells me that he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for others sharing their personal stories. The main reason, he says, for reaching out and seeking help was the fact that his friend Andrew had been open and honest about his experiences of living with depression.
“It is through sharing experiences and blogs like this that help people to deal with challenging situations. My hope in being open about my experience is that people see not only the ‘real me’, but also feel that they’re not alone. We are all humans and we need to talk more about our experiences….I recently turned my birthday into a fundraised, it was probably the happiest day of my life. I looked around the room and saw people who love me for what I am”.
Christian also campaigns for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community; a community that is close to his heart. He says:
“It’s funny that we’re talking about mental health and LGBT issues as separate issues, but in some ways they overlap. Statistically, LGBT people are more likely to go through some form of mental health issue due to feelings of rejection, anxiety, fear or depression. As a young, gay, man I was anxious when I first came out, but I’ve been supported and loved which has seen me through that. There are LGBT people, however, whose mental health is severely affected because they don’t feel accepted and loved for being who they are. I’m vocal about my mental health as much as I am about my LGBT campaigning because they both share the same end goal – breaking down barriers and stigmas in society which are unnecessary. If I believe in tackling stigma towards LGBT people, I must equally be as vocal about challenging attitudes towards people with mental health difficulties; one way of breaking down those barriers is talking openly”.
What would Christian say to those that are living silently with mental health issues?
“I would tell them you are not alone – going through what you’re going through actually puts you in the majority. Every year a quarter of adults will go through some form of mental illness, even if its not long term. But then I would say, mostly importantly – reach out. To a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a medical professional”.
Why does Christian feel that sharing his personal story is important?
“What makes us human is our individual experiences. Each experience for each human is different, but it is that diversity of experiences which makes us the same as human beings. By sharing our stories we are able to connect and understand each other, and in-turn, understand ourselves”.
You can find Christian’s full blog here: http://christianjameswebb.tumblr.com