It’s just one that takes a lot of work and no one else can do for you

Photo by Autumn Goodman on Unsplash

As a mental health worker, I’m regularly asked by clients to just give them the secret. Please, just tell me how to be happy, they say, please tell me how to fix it. I wish I could, and that’s what I generally tell them. Often a quick solution is all they want, but it isn’t what they need.

I get that. I’ve been in their shoes, walked miles in them, and I understand that feeling well. When I was at my lowest, all I wanted was a fast and easy way to solve it. …

They really think they have the ultimately correct opinion on everything

Picture the scene — I, an adult lesbian, was delivering training around LGBT+ matters. This is training I was selected to run for the team, as the one considered the most knowledgeable to present on the subject, something the team needed to learn more about.

a small rainbow pride flag, held up by one hand, against a blue sky
a small rainbow pride flag, held up by one hand, against a blue sky
Photo by Brielle French on Unsplash

After a rousing game of ‘Guess The Flag’, the first half of the presentation centered around the different identities of the LGBT+ community. Everyone listened and interacted nicely, until I asked them why it could be that many gay women prefer to label themselves as exactly that rather than use the word ‘lesbian’. …

We’re the best people to follow behind them, keeping them on track.

Photo by Jean Gerber on Unsplash

Picture the scene:

INT — Autistic person’s living room

The ADHDer stands and walks in the direction of the kitchen

ADHDer: Where did I leave my phone? Maybe it’s in the kitchen.

Autistic: Yep, I remember seeing it in there earlier.

ADHDer exits the living room. Returns five minutes later with a glass of water and no phone.

Autistic: You went to get your phone. And I think I saw your purse in there too

ADHDer: Ugh, yes I did.

ADHDer exits the room once more.

In many ways, Autism and ADHD don’t compliment each other very well. One causes a person to…

Fiction representation has come a long way in the last twenty years

Growing up as a young lesbian in a forgettable mid-sized UK town, finding any form of representation to help me adjust to my newfound identity was something of a trial. Although this wasn’t exactly pre-internet times, a combination of dial-up connection and lack of knowledge prevented much exploration. We gained a Borders bookstore (R.I.P) when I was in my early teens, and a whole new world opened up.

A pair of fisted hands with LGBTQIA+ written in rainbow colours on the fingers
A pair of fisted hands with LGBTQIA+ written in rainbow colours on the fingers
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

When Borders first opened in my town, a tiny section with an equally tiny label could be found near to the ‘Zs’ — ‘Gay and Lesbian’. This was before B and T…

People lie about everything on the internet — even mental illness

A doll’s face with lots of small cracks running through it
A doll’s face with lots of small cracks running through it
Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash

A young person looks into the camera, and then looks away, as though uncomfortable. They bite a fingernail as a distorted sound plays over the video. The sound moves to a crescendo of audial discomfort and the young person stares blankly into space, before shaking themselves off and smiling at the camera. A caption appears, informing the viewer that a new ‘alter’ has overtaken their body and introduces them by name.

This may sound like a description of a cheap TV movie, or someone who is cosplaying their original characters, but the person in this video, like many posted on…

All you need is a streaming account or two

A pyramid of televisions showing the same blurred image in different colours.
A pyramid of televisions showing the same blurred image in different colours.
Photo by Murai .hr on Unsplash

In an ideal world, we would all be open about our mental health, ill or otherwise, everyone would have access to therapy and support, and taking care of mental health would be as easy as physical health. As we all know, it isn’t that simple.

There are many free and low-cost things that we can do to look after our mental health. Regular exercise, time with friends and family, engaging in hobbies, all help. The trouble is, these activities are all much easier to keep up when your mental health is in a positive place. The worse you feel, the…

Why it matters that we don’t all show our emotions in the same way

Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

When you work in mental health, a big part of the job is assessing the mental state of other people. I work in a crisis response role, but I’m not a doctor or a therapist. We’re just people, helping other people. Anyone struggling with their mental health can telephone or walk-in and we’ll do our best to help them. This may mean giving them a safe space to talk, to call someone, to get information about other services. This potentially includes people with whom we have very little experience, so making judgments about how they’re feeling is tricky.

We need…

Living in a straight world all my life, I’ve noticed a lot, and it’s not pretty

As much as we might like to pretend that none of us is all that unique and there’s no need for us to let any part of our identities define us, there are some aspects of ourselves that cannot be overlooked. As a lesbian and a proud member of the LGBT+ community, I could argue that there aren’t all that many differences between myself and a straight woman. Except when it comes to relationships, I’m often reminded that there are some gaping chasms between us.

Before you rush to cement your ally-ship, there are specific differences that I’ve noticed, primarily…

Somewhere I belong — my first fan convention

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

When I bought my first ticket to an L-Con, I cried.

I would be going to a convention dedicated to my favorite show — The L Word. Most importantly, I would meet some of the stars, people who had a huge impact on my life through their work. It would be three days of events, including Q&A sessions with the stars, signings in which we could speak to them (very briefly) one-to-one, and a chance to get our photos taken with them. Ten minutes earlier, I hadn’t known that conventions for fans of The L Word even existed, I thought they were reserved for sci-fi and fantasy shows. It was only…

Exploring the differences between chronic mental illness, personality disorders, and neurological conditions.

An x-ray of a brain
An x-ray of a brain
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Ever since receiving a formal Autism diagnosis last year, I’ve been enjoying being able to immerse myself in the Neurodiverse community without a feeling of guilt, without that nagging little voice in my head telling me I didn’t really belong there. It isn’t that I believe individuals from different communities shouldn’t enjoy content from each other, far from it. I think having grown up with the feeling I didn’t belong, well, anywhere, it was hard to believe this might be a place that I did in fact fit. It’s a wonderful, varied community, filled with amazing people, after all.


Sarah McManus MSc

Sarah McManus is a UK based writer of mental health articles. She recently completed an MSc in Psychology and is working on her first non-fiction book.

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