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Talking Mental Health on World Mental Health Day 2020.

Before I start this post I just want to trigger warn any readers that this post will contain references to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Please don't read on if any of these things may trigger any thoughts. 

There I was standing at the top of the stairs. Ready to throw myself down. To throw myself into hopefully the abyss, to never see another day but something stopped me. I couldn't do it. Fear held me down and eventually I walked away and I survived.

I was very hesitant to write such an open post on my theatre page but I just wanted to encourage any of you who are/have struggled to be open and honest and to talk. Talking helps. On my own personal blog that I very rarely post on these days, I've often written about my mental health and just unloading those thoughts can be helpful. I'm not saying to necessarily write a blog post but maybe write it down on paper, write to a friend, talk to a professional. The one thing with mental health is to try to not bottle up those thoughts because if you bottle them they'll start to expand and try to push the lid of that battle off and then you can feel even worse.

2020 certainly hasn't been a great year. I think many of us have had struggles and mental battles during this year. Whether that be a rise in anxiety thanks to the COVID situation or just the general down feels during the lockdown. Naturally, one of the things that helps my mind escape the most is the theatre and being without theatre not for 6 months has been a very difficult time for my mind.

I send my love to all the theatre professionals who have lost jobs, incomes and continue to struggle during this time. I've often felt completely overwhelmed by the situation. The lack of support for the arts, in general, has been devastating. I'm only a very small voice in a big pond of voices and I know I can't change much but together hopefully the louder all the voices the more noise and positive change it'll make going forwards. Quite simply the arts are vital. 

I wrote the other day on the social media take over that the Arts did that how important theatre can be, how it can let someone escape, how it can maybe give a lost soul hope, how it can impact on them in the days following a performance. If one show can help one person isn't that enough?


Around this time last year I'd been re-prescribed sertraline by my GP and I had the darkest spiral backwards after I started taking them. Early parts of 2019 had been okay, but then I started to gradually feel lower and lower to the point where I talked to my GP about it and he recommended we try the tablets again (in 2018 the GPs kept changing my medication, something which they admitted was a mistake, so I was very unsure about re-starting them). It's hard to describe how I felt in the weeks after I started taking them. It honestly felt like I'd died. I was a ghost just participating but I felt nothing. No emotion, nothing. I wasn't there at all. 

A certain musical set in Paris (Amelie), which I'm sure I've talked about too much, really helped me escape. I dragged my dad all the way from Somerset back up to Reading during a weeks holiday just to catch it. It was during that time I was on the medication and just being in the theatre again watching something that meant a lot to me was so freeing. 

That's the one constant thing that has helped me battle on, theatre. It's most of my life. I'm often writing about theatre on my site or my social media, often watching live theatre (or this year streamed theatre). It gives me some purpose. Something to focus on. During this year I've been part of a little community of theatre fans from a WhatsApp group and I can't tell you how much that has helped me. We've done a lot of quizzes and bingos over Zoom and it's constantly a ray of sunshine during a period which has been difficult to navigate. It's been strange losing something I'm so used to in going to the theatre but through those streams and those conversations, the little magic light of theatre hasn't gone out.

Over the years I've battled with depression, feeling like I'm not worth anything like I'm a failure. Especially since I turned 29 in August I've more lately been thinking what is my worth? Do I offer anything? Will I ever be enough for someone? All those kind of darker thoughts which can make days difficult cause once a low mood hits it's like you've got a million bricks places on your mind and only one by one can you try to remove them but often they're just too heavy. Maybe you'll see my social media and think that I'm doing okay but sometimes you simply can't see the battles that are going on inside.

Thankfully as I write this I'm over 3 years since I last self-harmed (if you can please DON'T do it, it's really not worth it). The thought of I must physically punish myself can be so overwhelming and I felt so removed from myself the time I was there hacking away at my own skin. On my darkest day, I remember ripping a towel cause I was holding it so tightly, getting nail scissors and just slashing away at my skin. The one overriding memory of that was it was the night that Leicester City were at home to Liverpool that night. Instead of being at the match, I was at the walk-in centre seeing a GP, and it was the night Jamie Vardy scored one of his most famous goals. Every time I see that goal I feel a bit defeated and shame cause I should have been at the game and not at the doctors. 

I talked in the opening paragraph of the fear that stopped me from committing suicide, and again thankfully it's been a while since I had those thoughts. I'm grateful that the fear held my feet at the top of the stairs. I wasn't even sure if you could die from falling down the stairs, but I at least knew it would be very damaging to myself but I was ready to go. I've always had a fear of death (don't we all) and I think that held me down. Falling into the darkness. It's like in the movies when you see a villain pulling a character towards and the darkness but they resist. Something in my mind was screaming NOOOO. Life is worth living even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes.

I hope that if you're struggling that you feel you can reach out to someone. I'll ALWAYS be here for anyone who needs someone to talk too. Contact through my social media, DM me, email me, anything. Please don't be afraid to reach out to me on either my Beyond The Curtain page or my own personal social media channels. If we can all support each other without judgement the world would be a slightly better place.

I want to reach out and give you all a big hug and tell you that it's going to be okay. Keep fighting. Sometimes even if you take a few steps backwards that's more than okay. It's okay to not be okay.

Love to you all. 


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