Let's be honest, it wouldn't be a mental health awareness day without me having to say something about it...

Another year, another Mental Health Awareness Day comes round. Today, mental health conversations are advocated, supported and there's a constant saying that it should be this way every day. Tomorrow? People are having bad mental health days but too scared to call into work for this matter, your friend pretends they are ok because they don't want to be thought of as an attention seeker for saying actually, they really aren't ok.

Every year we say things are going to change, but they never do.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't have these awareness days because we obviously should, it's starting the conversation. It's something, at least. There needs to be more though. Society needs to step up and talk about mental health. It's 2018 and telling your Instagram followers you've broken your leg is fine but you'll lose a couple of followers as soon as you mention a bad mental health day. How does that make sense?

However, there shouldn't be pressure for people to talk about their mental health if they don't want to. Mental health can be exhausting, debilitating and quite frankly, not the topic someone wants to bring up at a dinner party. What's important though is that people should be able to feel comfortable to talk about their mental health if they want to and if it makes them feel comfortable. We shouldn't pressure people to talk about what's going on in their mind if they don't want to, but we need to remind them that it's ok. They can talk if they want to.

Also, let's just break down this idea that the only mental health problems are depression and anxiety. Let's educate ourselves on the harrowing impact of mental health. It isn't just the occasional panic attack and not being able to get out of bed. Mental health can affect everybody in different ways. Just because your aunt's cousins friend has mental health problems, doesn't mean that it affects them the same as the person in your year that you've never bothered to talk to. Don't just assume.

As someone who has struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember, I've faced more criticism than positivity. More friends have left than stayed. The number of rumours about me while I was in secondary school was ridiculous. Thinking back to it, I literally don't know how I got through it. But, I did. I want to talk about my experiences in hope that just one person will realise that they are not alone in this. I want to talk about how I had 30% attendance in my final year of A Levels because most days, I just didn't want to leave the house and face the discrimination that I've experienced for the majority of my life just because I'm a little bit different.

One memory that sticks out for me clearly from the years where I was at my lowest point, where I didn't know if I was going to survive the week was the betrayal I faced by a number of people who were my friends. I used a Twitter account to express my emotions, a way to make me feel not so alone, it was a coping mechanism of sorts. People showed my school and I would be constantly tracked on social media, criticized for it and told to delete it by the teachers who were supposed to provide me with support. They cut off my outlet and made me feel more alone.

Primary school, secondary school and sixth form alike; all terrible in their own way because nobody could understand me and I increasingly felt more alone than ever. From being pinned down in the park at age 10, having food crumbled in my hair and being insulted constantly to having even parents call me weird and a freak in secondary school, verballing attacking me in the street and then pretty much everyone ignoring me in sixth form because I wasn't like them - it hasn't been easy

Self harm was a prominent part of my teenage years and while I wish it wasn't, while I wish I could have had a carefree life, that's just not the way it was. I want to talk about this and hope that people can talk to me if they wanted to, I want people to know that life can get better. I hid my arms for more years than not, I avoided swimming pools and PE shorts and that was such a dark time for me. It was the worst part of my life. I had counsellor appointments, therapists and psychiatrists but I still felt so alone. My parents couldn't understand why I did this to myself, my friends thought I was attention seeking and I just never want to relive that part of my life. I felt like the ugliest, largest, most hated person in the world and it was horrible.

Another clear memory was one I'll never forget. Being pretty much barricaded into a corner by a teacher because I couldn't do what everyone else could do, them trying to force me to do things I wasn't comfortable with and my mum being at the end of the phone every time I rang her to pick me up early. I'm not exaggerating when I say those phone calls were frequent, full of crying and panic attacks and honestly, as I'm typing this, I'm proud of how far I've come. I'm not fully recovered by any means but I'm getting there. I've managed to turn my life around in ways I never thought I could and considering I clearly remember being 13 and thinking I wouldn't live past my teenage years, that I wouldn't even live through the week,  I'm just proud of myself.

Let's just make mental health conversations a bigger part of day to day conversations, please and thank you to the people who helped me get through my darkest days.