Coming Out...About Mental Health

Publish Date: 03/10/2012

Lucy Rolfe shares her experiences of coming out about mental health...

"I’ve had mental health problems. There, I’ve said it. Those five words, for years made me shudder, it was a secret I was keeping that no-one could ever find out about. What would people think? Would my friends disown me? Would people laugh at me? Would people avoid me in the street? Would people think I was dangerous? I had endless questions flying through my head. How could I talk to someone else about something I didn’t even understand myself?

I was 16 when I noticed that I felt different to all of my friends. There was no ‘light bulb’ moment, it just seemed to creep up on me over a few months; I was sinking into depression. Not that I realised it at the time, I just thought it was my personality. All of my friends were outgoing, fun and up for a laugh and all I wanted to do was lock myself away from the World and disappear. Thinking it was part of who I was, meant I didn’t ask for help sooner – well, that and because I thought if people know how I felt, they’d laugh, tell me to stop being so stupid and pull myself together.

Then everything just got too much. I’d coped on my own for over a year, feeling like I was losing my mind piece by piece and in that time I’d also developed anxiety, to the point where I was having regular panic attacks. I just wanted it all to stop, I felt completely alone and like there was no way out. I tried to distance myself from friends, sending them horrible messages in the hope they’d fall out with me (thankfully, it didn’t work). And then you can probably guess what happened from there...

The first person I reached out to was my best friend. She knew pretty much everything about me except from this. I was absolutely terrified when I called her to ask for help, but what I do remember is the overwhelming feeling of relief I felt as I could hear myself say the words I’d been so terrified of saying. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all easy from that point on, what followed were probably the toughest two years of my life, but not having to carry this secret around with me did made it that bit easier. I realised I had to let people help me; I wasn’t alone, and if you’re reading this, neither are you.

Since then, with the right people around me, I’ve feel like I’ve got my life back. Coming out about my own depression and anxiety is one of the best things I’ve ever done, even though there were times when it felt impossible. The reason I’ve finally decided to do this article, is because on days like today, I realise how different things could’ve been for me and for lots of the people we support at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation. So if you’re struggling and need to talk, no matter how big or small the issue might be, please, please talk to someone. It might just be the most life-changing thing you ever do.

If you need to speak to someone, or if you have a friend who could do with some support, our Helpline is open 10am – 10pm every day. If you’d prefer to talk to someone in person, you can drop-in anytime between 10am and 8pm, Monday to Friday. We also offer a free telephone counselling service for 14-25 year olds.

If you, or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or is in a crisis make an urgent appointment with a GP or visit the Accident and Emergency department at the nearest hospital."

You can call The LGF Helpline on 0845 3 30 30 30 or email helpline@lgf.org.uk