I wonder if you’ve ever looked around you and thought ‘why is my life so bad compared with everyone else?’

‘Why does everyone else appear to be fine, happy and enjoying life, whereas I’m feeling low, and everything’s going wrong?’ We can take a look at all the fun pictures of what people are up to on Facebook or other social media sites, we see friends and family who seem to have better jobs, relationships, social life than we have and wonder ‘what’s wrong with me?’

is it me?As a society we are very good at answering the question ‘How are you?’ with ‘I’m fine thanks.’ We’re also taught to have a ‘stiff upper lip’ and to wear a facial expression that portrays to the outside world that we’re OK and our life is fine. So when we’re actually not doing so well and feeling bad inside, it can appear to us that we’re the only one who is suffering – everyone else appears to be OK. But often what we’re doing is comparing all of how we feel – the bad and the good – with only the glossy good things that people are allowing us to see.

I wonder what people would say if they answered the ‘How are you?’ question totally truthfully? Maybe they would tell us about the difficulties they’re having with a work colleague? Or what pressure and stress they’re under to reach a deadline? Or would they tell us about the argument they had with their spouse/child/parent last night?…Yes, it’s true that it’s not wise to tell everyone our problems, it’s best to share those things with the people we can trust, but what can be hard is to feel that we’re the only one who is suffering.

The truth is that life is a rocky journey – with many downs as well as ups – suffering is part of the human condition, but the important thing to know is that you are not alone in this. Statistics from the NHS state that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year [1] and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week [2]. Bearing in mind those statistics, if you think about how many people live in your street, how many might struggle with mental ill health this year?

This is why the work being done by mental health charities such as Mind, Place 2 Be and Heads Together are so important – raising awareness of mental health to show that it’s not something you have to hide and be ashamed of, but something that is commonplace across the population – no matter what gender, income, nationality etc., and that it’s OK to get help – just as you would for a physical health problem.

Counselling is one of the ways which helps people with mental health issues and difficult life circumstances. It can make all the difference to open up about how you’re really feeling and have the space and time to reflect on what’s happening and gain insight into what can help. So if you’d like to talk to someone who understands, cares and won’t judge you when you answer the ‘How are you?’ question truthfully…then please get in touch – I’m here to help.

[1] McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey. The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.

[2] McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014. Leeds: NHS digital.

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