Halloween and mental health

Source: Ella Robson
Source: Ella Robson

Happy Halloween! 

It’s Halloween! There’s so many themed blog posts I could write in relation to today, but apparently my creative juices are having a rest! It’s been a strange old week, with many ups and many more downs… but last night my housemates and I spent the evening carving pumpkins, watching ‘scary’ (weird) films and chilling. It was a much needed night in! 

Initially I was meant to be in Swansea last night and Essex tonight, but after a very odd week full of unexpected events I decided to stay in Birmingham and have a little rest. I’ve been on medication for a while and I’ve had several different support systems in place, all the support I’ve received throughout my recovery has allowed me to function as normally as possible (whatever the heck normal is). By this I mean that although I do at times really suffer with anxiety – the type where I don’t want to leave the house, where I change my plans a lot and where I often just withdraw myself from certain situations – I have still been able to socialise, go to pubs, parties and all that jazz. Yeah there have been a few situations where I’ve done things that I regret – i.e: just going with the flow and doing what others do. But… even though I get very anxious I do still manage to have a good time. 

There certainly are times where my anxiety gets in the way, where I’m left feeling incredibly guilty for letting my friends down and so forth. But at the same time my friends are all wonderful and very understanding.  Last night I had intended to travel down to Swansea for a house party with some of my old uni friends, and then tonight I was going to travel down to Essex for a Halloween party with my friends back at home. After a very eventful day on Tuesday I decided  I wanted to head back to Essex and hibernate for the weekend, then yesterday I decided I’d just hibernate in Birmingham for a few days. (Travelling on trains is not my idea of fun right now, and driving back up to Birmingham is even less fun ha). 

Even though I’ve only lived in my house in Birmingham for a month my housemates are all really ace, and last night we had a really chill evening with lots of wine, chocolate, beer and pumpkins. It was really nice, and it certainly cheered me up. I’ve been very down and very low this past week, and at times I’ve been struggling to see anything – in regards to myself – from a positive perspective.

Last night was a much needed night of resting and allowing myself to take things a little slow – aka: look after myself. And the weirdest part is that for the first time in a long while that meant spending time with others and not hiding away in my room, eating far too much and hating myself far too much. Humans are wonderful ain’t they?! 

So, tonight is Halloween (ooh la la) and I know that Halloween – or any festive occasion – can fuel a lot of anxiety, panic and tough times for some people. In addition to this Halloween is always a little odd as Mental Health is unwillingly thrown into the spotlight with people dressing up as Mental Patients and so forth. Please ignore all that negative rubbish, mental illness doesn’t make you terrifying, or dangerous or even any less of a wonderful human being. Screw all that stigmatising rubbish. What’s really nice is media organisations calling out negative portrayals on mental health this Halloween (of course it would be a lot nicer if the stuff they were calling out didn’t exist in the first place) but please don’t let negative media stories and things like that knock your confidence or make you feel ashamed – the media is a very powerful thing, and almost all the content out there is mediated anyway – aka: catered to what they think we want. And, without being too cynical here, some news stories about mental health and Halloween are simply jumping on the bandwagon and releasing stuff that they know will make headlines. 

We shouldn’t even have media organisations releasing stories about ‘shocking mental health patient Halloween costumes’ or crap like that. The stigma shouldn’t be there in the first place. That being said, I of course salute those who are working to break down this stigma, it does sometimes just seem that stories are being released simply to add fuel to the fire. 

Here’s some examples of news stories concerning Mental Health Halloween Costumes – which I’m not in any way criticising, I just wish there wasn’t a need for stories like this in the first place.

Amazon ‘mental asylum’ Halloween costumes slammed by campaigners as charity calls for them to be dumped
ABC slammed by health organizations over claims Modern Family’s insane asylum-themed Halloween episode ‘mocked’ people with mental illness
Asda and Tesco withdraw Halloween patient outfits

This one’s brilliant:

‘Mental patient’ Halloween costumes: a scientific guide to dressing accurately’

Whatever you do tonight have a Happy Halloween and stay safe 🙂 

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