Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. It is a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. The World Federation for Mental Health first celebrated the day in 1992 and, since then, thousands of supporters have raised awareness and championed the Federation’s work. Whilst things have improved in recent years, there is still a massive stigma surrounding mental health problems. There are still people who are suspicious of people with illnesses that they can’t see. And it doesn’t help that Baby Boomers are treating mental health problems as yet more evidence that Millenials and Gen X-ers are “snowflakes”. Getting help for how you feel makes you seem weak in their eyes. Yet, there is nothing wrong with admitting to struggling. Talking to someone about your mental health or their mental health could make a huge difference. Just knowing that there is somebody there for you is a huge help. I’m no expert, by any means, so if you want more information check out someone like Mind for more advice. Me? I’m good at books. So, in honour of World Mental Health Day, this week’s Friday Favourites is a list of my top quotes to help you keep going. Can you spot any of your favourites?
- “I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape.”—Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
A classic book and a classic quotation full of hope. Rather than thinking about the horrible things you’ve gone through, think about the kind of person you have become. Human beings are malleable. You might think you’ve been broken beyond all hope of repair. But all that’s happened is you’ve started afresh. You’re a new person now. Let’s see where it takes you.
- “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Life can get a bit much but, sometimes, all you need to do is remember “I am alive”. No matter how numb your feel, your heart is still keeping you going. No matter how low you get, there is something inside you that carries on. Even if you feel dead inside, you aren’t. I’m not the kind of person who really likes quotations being used for tattoos but I can see the argument for having “I am, I am, I am” inked on my skin forever.
“Keep walking. If I look back I am lost.” —George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
Don’t focus on what has happened. I’m far too guilty of this myself. I’m one of those people who is still haunted by things she said or did decades ago. Plagued by the idea of “what if”. But where’s the sense in worrying about that. There’s nothing we can about it. The more time we look back to the past, the less we focus on where we’re going. The less focused we are then the more we miss. Just keep walking.
- “I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”—J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King
I love this quote on the basic level: don’t be afraid to cry. I know a lot of people, especially men, who still think it’s a weakness to cry. Tears aren’t bad. Tears can be cathartic. The deeper meaning of this quotation is that showing your emotions and letting people know how you feel is always better. Just opening up to one person about your dark days can be enough to improve things. Weep. Shout. Angry dance in a warehouse like Kevin Bacon did in Footloose. Whatever it takes to make you feel better.
- “There have been times, lately, when I dearly wished that I could change the past. Well, I can’t, but I can change the present, so that when it becomes the past it will turn out to be a past worth having.”―Sir Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
Is this similar to the George RR Martin quote? Yes. But I had to include this because the final part always makes me cry with joy. “When it becomes the past it will turn out to be a past worth having”. I mean, I’m welling up having just retyped those words. If you worry that you’ve wasted your life then the best thing you can do is make your future count. If present you can’t look back without feeling sad, make sure future you can look back with joy.
- “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”― J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I know that I’ve often said that I find Dumbledore’s quotes to be mostly trite and meaningless. However, I think I can make an exception for this one. Especially given that it’s World Mental Health Day. After all, happiness can be found if someone turns on the light. With regards to mental health, I like to take this to mean all it takes is reaching out to someone. You can turn on the light in somebody else’s darkness. Yes, it’s a huge simplification of a difficult thing but never stop turning on lights guys.
- “We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”—D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Just keep living. No matter how bleak things may seem, the best thing you can do is keep going. I realise that, in the original context of this novel, this quotation is championing the British stiff upper lip thing of just getting on with things. But this is my blog and I can take things out of context for my own gain.
- “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”―Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Yes, this is another one that I’m taking madly out of context. The full quotation is actually quite a bleak affair. But, this one section is quite uplifting. The world breaks everyone but it is possible to come back stronger. Nobody gets through life without experience something hurtful so you just have to try and remember that you’ll come out feeling stronger for it.