Why millennials are struggling with mental health issues

opinion piece

In a world where we compete to look like we are living our best life on social media, how many of us can honestly say we are truly happy?

Putting on a false smile in front of the camera, teeth gleaming, hair blowing in the wind – all whilst having a panic attack, intense palpitations, sweats of bead building on your palms. Look at you. You’re a walking contradiction. Your 10k followers on Instagram believe you lead the perfect life, but behind closed doors you often have dark intrusive thoughts. Penetrating thoughts that lead you to believe that you are worthless, lazy and a failure.

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Whilst social media may heighten the pressure young people feel to portray a perfect life style, it is far from the only issue contributing to mental health declination. Just imagine being trapped at your parental home until the ripe age of at least 28, working the most tedious job because employers won’t employ you in the sector you desire to work in; due to lack of ‘’experience’’- yet no one will give you a chance to gain experience. £40,000 worth of debt just to educate yourself, which in turn seems pointless as no one will give you a break? Brexit talks heighten the air of uncertainty. Political misdemeanour’s (corporate manslaughter at Grenfell Tower) and austerity push everyone to the limit both financially and socially. Young males being stabbed all around you on a daily basis. This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on.

Would you want to live like this? Choosing between having children or a stable career? Working full time and still not being able to afford decent food?

Sounds like a really messed up Hollywood film right? Because this is the reality of how most millennials are living right now.

I believe that our generation are struggling. It is not entirely impossible to succeed in the current climate; it just takes a lot of determination and discipline. But naturally we mustn’t forget that all these factors can contribute to a person’s mental state and well-being.  Life in your twenties is naturally a time of self-discovery, finding yourself and who you truly want to be. With these added societal pressures, both off-line and online, it can become overwhelmingly destructive for some people. Individuals will always have personal issues, and these need to be reviewed individually. However, at a time in your life where you yearn to progress and the system keeps beating you down, it is completely de-motivating for young people.

Unfortunately we cannot change politics, or at least the negative trickling effects it can have on us. But what we can change is our attitudes towards mental health. If you see someone updating a Facebook status stating how depressed they are, instead of calling them an attention seeker learn to see it as a cry for help. There have already been so many suicides this year committed by young people. Simple gestures and listening can have the power to help mental health sufferers. We have to keep pushing for change, more recognition, more funding for mental health services.

As fucked up as this system is, it is never going to beat me.  

Yours Sincerely,

Michelle (A struggling journalist pushing for a break)

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How to survive the festive period with depression 

opinion piece

It was at that moment that time stood still. Laying limply in a bath full of water which had long gone cold, still. Physically weakened by your own mental state, moving is not an option. Staring blankly at a blank wall, thoughts full of angst and pain. Angst and pain. 

Photography Credit: Nikita Campbell


If you battle depression or anxiety; you will be familiar with this situation, and these bleak feelings. The bad periods come and go, but I have noticed the festive period can be particularly challenging. 

Photography Credit: Nikita Campbell


It’s a time of year where we are expected to be appreciative, grateful and ‘happy’. What if we can’t keep up the pretence? What if we truly aren’t happy? Society at large and the media don’t cover this. This Christmas I found myself at an all time low, I can’t quite distinguish what was the root cause. I fear it may be a build up from what I can only describe as a very harrowing year. 

How can you make it through the period of happiness when you feel like utter rubbish? 

Don’t get caught up in the hype. I think one great tip is not to get caught up in the hype surrounding Christmas. We must remember it is a commercial holiday, with targeted advertising to sell products. It’s almost too easy to browse social media, or any media advertising and see these perfectly constructed images of how Christmas should be. Whether you are religious or not, we can all agree it is a good opportunity to be grateful for what we do have. And not think about what we don’t. 

Don’t suffer in silence. I believe that loneliness is a silent killer; and anyone who will be alone on Christmas (unless it’s by choice), should try their hardest not to be. You can also help relatives who will be alone by visiting, picking them up or even a simple phone call – it can make someone’s day, contributing to their overall mood. If family are too far away, talk to friends. Failing that, if you get into a real depressive mood you can always call the Samaritans suicide helpline at any time on 116 123. 

Don’t overthink. I have recently come to the realisation that my own brain is my worst enemy. I over think absolutely everything, and work my mind into a stage of anxiousness. I think this can be the case for a majority of people who have any type of mental health battle. Although it’s easier said than done, I always advice finding a release. For example, for me writing is a therapeutic activity that I enjoy. It keeps me busy and inspired. Find your activity and revert to that at times of need. 

Finally, I just wanted to make the effort to say that if anyone is reading this and is having a rough time; I would be happy to talk to you if you need. Don’t suffer in silence. Get in touch. Together we can raise awareness of mental health issues, one case at a time. 

How the Foo Fighters helped me overcome depression 

opinion piece

Yesterday I read an article on post graduate depression; which I have briefly mentioned in previous blog posts (how to deal with rejection), and it is definetly a thing. Infact, it’s a big thing that needs to be recognised. Once you graduate you are thrown into the big wide world, with the expectation that getting a job is not so difficult. And it isn’t really, if you want a job. If you want a career in something you studied – that may be slightly trickier. 

I went through this awful depression, and I know other people that have experienced the same. You feel down, powerless, useless. I got that dark feeling a few months ago. I had just got what sounded like my dream job after graduating – a marketing executive for an educational institution. It wasn’t journalism which I studied, but I vowed to keep my freelance work on the side and save up to enable me to complete internships for journalism. 

I won’t go into extreme detail as I would quite like to leave this subject to a forthcoming blog post; but this new ‘job’ turned out to be a complete and utter facade. The company was built upon lies – I had left my long term loyal job to work for a scandalous agency! I felt so betrayed that I had been manipulated and indoctrinated into thinking I was entering a completely different type of company, compared to the bleak reality. The only way I can describe this place (I refuse to refer to it as a workplace because it is NOT), it was like being in what I would imagine WW2 East Germany to be like. We were in a room with no natural light, in a cellar type environment. Our ‘manager’ watched us like a hawk throughout the day, talking was not allowed. We had cameras everywhere (the reason for this was never confirmed), and we were all pretty much convinced that these cameras had sound. It was terrifying to me that this type of work place exists – continues to exist and that individuals are subjected to these unhealthy working conditions. 

This ‘job’ came to an end after just two months and I was left with nothing. 

This is when it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Waking up at 5am daily, shaking and sweating in pure angst. My anxiety had reached new levels. I knew what was causing it but I had zero control over the situation. It was the lack of structure to my day, the innate fear that I would never find a job. The utter self depreciation of consistently telling myself I was no good, useless. You will never get a decent job repeated in my mind like a choir hymn. 

There came a point one random monday I was getting ready to attend a job interview, I put my iTunes on shuffle. Foo Fighters came on, I remember the moment so vividly. Because it was the pivotal moment where my attitude took a turn for the better. It was their song ‘The Pretender’ which had been playing. So much feeling within the song, and the lyrics at that point in time meant the world to me. ‘What if I say that I’ll never surrender?’ 

I continued to listen to the band for the rest of the day, their uplifting, reflective lyrics helped me remember why I even started trying in the first place. And why I would never give up. 

The Foo Fighters are a great example of why you should never give up. Dave Grohl started out his music career in Nirvana, after Kurts death he was traumatised – but made the controversial decision to start another band. For which he received a lot of criticism for. The band went through numerous members, and numerous dramas. But they ploughed through, Dave never gave up. 

Eventually their efforts and talents were recognised. But if they would have gone and got a day job and given up on the music dream – they wouldn’t be where they are today. And that’s just it, despite my self depreciation and anxious thoughts ripping at my inner confidence – I won’t give up. I really no longer care how long it takes me to get where I want to be. I know that I will be there one day, and that is comforting enough. It’s enough, you are enough. 

The art of comparison: how Instagram is detrimental to female self-esteem 

opinion piece

I’ve had severe ups and downs with Instagram. It’s both my favourite and worst social media app. Because on the outside, it’s aesthetically pleasing to scroll through people’s seemingly perfect lives, perfect selfies, perfect food and their perfect relationships. But we often forget, usually, a huge amount of effort has gone into constructing these images. It’s fake.

As females we all have days where we are insecure. And unfortunately with social media girls of younger and younger ages are aware of their looks – and feeling an innate pressure to be conventionally attractive. Adhering to false beauty standards portrayed on social media. Now Instagram, being a visually based app – and thriving off of a like for like and comment for comment culture can breed self esteem issues.

Of course, it’s not a new concept for the media to convey unattainable beauty standards. This has been the case for traditional media platforms for most of cultural history, however the online realm; and in particular Instagram has accelerated this. Let me tell you why.

The app itself is, of course, irresponsible for a high increase in young girls developing mental health issues plagued by body image or self esteem. It’s how the app is used, and the nature of the characteristics of the app. It’s so fast moving, that users often feel pressure to upload. They have followers and ‘Insta celebrities’ they aspire to be like – and therefore this often breeds a competitive nature. Or a feeling of inferiority.

The art of comparison is what is killing our young girls souls. Scrolling through pretentious images, constructed for social validation. Comparing yourself to images that are fake. Comparing your life, your goals, your face, your ass and your entirety to someone you’ve never even met.

Possibly one of the worst things you can do in the cut throat world of Instagram is to compare. You must must must always stay grounded, remembering that most of these images are socially constructed. And even if they aren’t, everyone progresses at their own pace in life. You are doing great and that’s all you need to watch.

Survival of the fittest.

How you can help friends who suffer with depression, MHAW 17 

top tips

Depression is much like drowning. You are laying in a full bath of luke warm water, staring aimlessly at the ceiling. You don’t see the ceiling, you see nothing but blankness. You know you need to move, but all energy, all motivation has miraculously escaped your cold, fatigued body. You are cold. Depression is that point where you can’t move, you aren’t even mentally in the room. You are consumed by your own intruding dark thoughts. 

 I imagine depression as long black cloak, which is invisible for the most part. But when it wants to make itself known. It will make your entire world fall apart around you. 

Seeing as it’s mental health awareness week, and I have been viewing in the media that more and more young people are being diagnosed with depression / depressive disorders. I thought it was mandatory to try and help others understand what we go through, and how they can potentially help. Of course when it comes to mental health, there is no secret tablet that cures your condition. Because more often than not, there is external factors which alleviate the condition. 

For me, being a naturally bubbly person and suffering with depression on and off; It’s even more difficult because everyone always assumes you are fine. Oh you are strong and loud, you’ll get on with it. 

This isn’t always the case. 

Here are some tips to help if you have a friend who suffers; 

1. Check on them 

The one thing that really matters when someone is depressed is the feeling of isolation. Just messaging someone asking how they are can literally make their day. To you it’s a short message, to the disaffected person that can be seen as someone caring, reaching out. So do check up on your friends as regularly as you can. It helps. 

2. Patience is a virtue 

Be patient with depressed people. If they are having a bad day, they may not want to talk to you – don’t take anything personally. They may need time to get their thoughts together. 

3. Be there 

It sounds really patronising and obvious, but if any of your friends ever tell you they are depressed. Don’t assume it’s a one day thing and they will be fine next week. It could be potentially something they suffer with, on and off, for the rest of their lives. So try your hardest to be there for them as much as you can. Whether it be days out to distract them and get them out of the house – or phone calls where you just listen. It all helps in the grand scheme of things. 

Please like and share this to raise awareness. We don’t need to suffer in silence #Mentalhealthawarenessweek 

Dysfunctional socially: living with functioning anxiety 

top tips

You can often be in a room full of people but feel completely and utterly alone. You can be in a social situation, with a huge grin on your face; eyes wide, speaking and laughing confidently. But inside, your heart is beating so fast you think it possibly may burst through your chest, your hands are clammy, and you can’t stop fidgeting. Your legs are shaking, tapping. Tapping to an unknown beat only you can hear in your mind. Tap. Tap. Tap. 

Living with anxiety is far from easy. And having panic attacks at any given time can be nerve wrecking to say the least. But I feel there’s a lot of people out there who live day to day with functioning anxiety. Meaning, you have anxiety to an extent – but you can still socially function. This is perhaps a blessing and a curse. In one sense, the fact you can socialise can be a positive distraction. But it’s always a curse in the sense that people who don’t understand how functioning anxiety works – can often assume your ‘anxiety’ doesn’t exist. Simply because you still have a life, and try to enjoy it where you can. 

I just wanted to clear up some common misconceptions for those who aren’t aware of functioning anxiety, and give some helpful tips for those struggling. 

  1. Deception – it’s hugely deceiving for people who aren’t aware of your mental state. Depression is often a side affect of anxiety (or a common mental state which goes hand in hand with anxiety). Meaning that you have ups and downs. Just because you still socialise alot of the time and appear ‘normal’. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are stable, if you know deep down you need help. 
  2. ‘She’s just saying that for attention’ – others who say this about you may do it for a number of reasons. But you know yourself whether you are ill or not. And the everyday struggles you face. Ignore this type of comment, and comtinue to try to combat your demons. 
  3. Talk the talk – sometimes sharing your problems or just admitting something is wrong can be the first step towards recovery. 
  4. Light at the end of the tunnel – although it may not seem like you will ever recover. You can do it. You have to be mentally strong and learn to control your condition. Until it no longer exists. It won’t be easy – you will no doubt, have several break downs along the way. But you can do it! 

So next time you assume someone is ok just because they function in a seemingly normal way. How about you don’t assume anything? 

Because you don’t know what that person is going through. Maybe their mum just died of cancer and they are battling depression, but their way of dealing with it is to go out and drink with friends? 

Everybody deals with their problems in their own ways. What we need less of is judgmental behaviour. We need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, and start discussion. Because discussion can often lead to cures.