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From March 13th every day for two weeks, we will be posting a new piece of content about people’s first experience of having a conversation about their mental health as part of our campaign #14Conversations.

We are raising money for a local, free mental health service for local people aged 11-25: Off The Record. They’re doing an amazing job but they can’t do it without financial support. Click here to donate!

#Conversation1 comes from Hannah Korn.

Telling someone about my mental health problems for the first time was really difficult.

It was about five years ago now but I still remember it so clearly. The first person I told was my boyfriend at the time, who had been pretty open with me about his own mental health issues.

This made it slightly easier, having someone I knew would understand, but I was still so nervous. At this point I wasn’t really aware what the problem was. I knew I had been self-harming for a few months but I knew nothing beyond that.

I had no experience of mental health – the subject had barely even been mentioned to me. My boyfriend asked how I was feeling and I genuinely didn’t know; I was confused by my own thoughts, unable to separate them out.

He told me I was probably depressed, but somehow I couldn’t believe him. I didn’t want it to be true so I convinced myself it wasn’t.

It somehow normalized the experience – I felt less alone, less like an outsider.

He eventually got through to me by asking, ‘If you’re not depressed, why are you cutting yourself?’ I had no answer.

He told me to go to my GP, something I really didn’t want to do. I was scared, still unsure whether there was really anything wrong with me, and unwilling to do anything which might make the situation seem more real.

My mental health got worse though and I started having suicidal thoughts – which was the wake-up call I needed to finally do something about it.

I went to my GP and explained how I was feeling. I was terrified sitting there in the waiting room, not knowing what to say or what reaction I would get.

Let’s go #OnTheRecord for Off The Record!

I felt completely out of my depth, immersed in an experience I had never expected or even known much about. But I made myself go in, I talked, and I got given a number to call for counselling and a prescription for antidepressants.

It was somehow easier than I expected, and felt far more matter-of-fact than I thought it would. For me, it was a strange new world, but for the GP, I was just one in a long line of patients who had come in with the same story.

It somehow normalized the experience – I felt less alone, less like an outsider.

At first, I hated the idea of taking medication. I didn’t want anything messing with my brain, making me feel things I didn’t want to feel. The whole idea scared me.

This aversion took some time to overcome, but I eventually realized it was the depression which was messing with my brain, not the pills. The medication was part of the solution, not the problem.

I did feel vulnerable, but I did not feel weak.

The hardest part of the whole ordeal, though, was telling my parents. I didn’t know where to begin. I stumbled and stuttered my way through an explanation, and when it came down to it I couldn’t even say the word depression. I said I’d been prescribed anti-depressants and left it at that. But at least I’d finally told them.

I’d been veering between strong desire to let it all out and equally strong desire to keep everything locked away inside me for the best part of six months. I desperately wanted to talk yet I was also terrified to. Now I’d finally made the decision and I was glad.

I felt stronger for having shared it, despite having been worried it would make me feel too vulnerable. Yes, I did feel vulnerable, but I did not feel weak.

Everything was out in the open, and it was so much better.

My mother asked whether I had ever felt the urge to hurt myself. I had no choice but to reply that I’d been harming myself for half a year.

The look on her face hurt, but she deserved to know the truth. Though I felt awful for upsetting her like that, it would have upset her more if she had felt I was still keeping secrets. Everything was out in the open, and it was so much better.

Of course, telling people is not a magic solution. Everything doesn’t suddenly become resolved. But it’s the first step – on a long and difficult path, it’s true, but it’s a good beginning.


Thank you Hannah for sharing your story. Get involved in the conversation by using #14Conversations on Twitter!

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