Today I dedicate my blog post to the #SmileAgainstTheStigma campaign I came across.

It’s about sharing a ‘smile selfie’ and writing about any mental health problems you or loved ones you know – or in fact anyone that you have met who may have them, to fight stigma.

It suits me well the whole ‘smile’ thing as I smile a lot. And so without knowing me knowing me you probably wouldn’t guess that Anxiety and Depression (A&D) are prevalent in my week to week (not quite day to day 🙌🏻) life, on some kind of spectrum. Not just that, but EDNOS and PTSD – abbreviations I’ll let you look up for yourself as I’m not brave enough yet to write freely about these as I am my A&D. I find people’s minds are a little more closed towards the last 2 I mentioned and that they are quick to stereotype, assume or fob off as struggles of the average person.

My #SuicideTabooAndLifeWithoutYou partner and I were literally just discussing last night how when we first wanted to go ahead with our awareness project, we wanted to make it a little different, as we see a lot of anti-stigma campaigns. We want to come from a fresh angle, as a team, with our sad yet strong USP of decade apart suicide grief within a tight childhood friendship, one with mental health problems, one supporter, with light humour here and there…to try and ‘normal’ise conversations around mental health.

We’ve finally seen just why there are so many posts around stigma. Yes, we’ve come along way. People do talk. But we still see trivial things getting more support and attention than something that everyone has and experiences. “Mental health”. It’s a free country and we’re not judging you on what you post. But on a day like today with a campaign such as #SmileAgainstTheStigma set up by a fellow brave individual, I’d like to stress the importance of promoting a culture that can speak out, if not for themselves, then for others. It will probably get mind numbingly boring for us and for you if we keep persevering with how essential it is to spread the word and get the world talking. But we’ll do that. Together. Sophie and I. Ever since the day I lost the closest person in my life to their own mental health problems and my world and others close got turned upside down, after agonising grief, I made a decision. Despite my own struggles to come to terms with this, I knew what I wanted to eventually do. And through volunteering, university and work, I’ve dedicated my everyday living to being one that actively promotes wellbeing to all. It’s not a strain or a chore, it’s part of me. Something I’d love to see embedded in our society.

I don’t need a ‘well done’, ‘you’re doing great things’. I need a collective movement, a change in attitudes and action. I’ll remember this day, this post. Where I speak out. This year has already seen the beginning of change for me through blogging, vlogging and more.

I get to work with the most incredibly brave and beautiful young people and adults at my job who volunteer to improve the mental health of young people in their local communities. They are dedicated and passionate individuals. I’d like to see more of this in my own circle too.

Love Abs X ❤️

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