This time last week, I was shocked to learn that former Love Island star Sophie Gradon had been found dead at her home. I was fully engrossed in the 2016 series and really took a liking to Sophie as she was humble in nature. For those of you who watched it, I am sure you will agree she had an infectious smile. So it came as a surprise when I read that she was suffering from depression and anxiety amongst other issues.
Although no formal cause of death has been confirmed, a majority of sources have speculated suicide. Before Sophie passed, she posted about trolling and the affect it has. One of the key things she mentioned was that ‘you can receive tonnes of positive comments and only a few negative comments, but its the negative comments that you take notice of‘. How sad is that. All of the lovely and genuine comments can be wiped out by a few awful people who speak negatively about others.
Trolling is awful. Trolling leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve often read through feeds and noticed really nasty comments, so I can understand the damaging effect it can have. And as much as we say ‘oh just ignore it’- it really is not that easy. When people fire negative comments, I think it is only natural to try and defend ourselves, which can then lead to us second guess who we are. So imagine that on a mass scale! One of my friends once described reading the trolls comments as mental self-harm. I agree. It is definitely mental torture.
On her Instagram page, Sophie appeared happy and successful and her friend’s commented on how happy she was. But clearly she was suffering in silence before her untimely death. And she did not want us to see the story that was going through her mind because like most people, we only upload the stories we want others to see – right?
WHY DIDN’T SHE SPEAK OUT?
This is a question that is often asked time and time again when somebody takes their own life. When I suffered from post natal depression back in 2014, I didn’t get the help I needed because I thought professionals would take my baby away. I was unaware of what help could be provided and feared being labelled as having a mental health issue. Many people did not know that I had suffered, because I put on a brave face. There was a reason I didn’t want people to know that I was not OK. That reason was the fear of being stigmatised. Many people have historically associated mental health issues as a weakness and disgrace and something to be ashamed of and that’s exactly what I was scared of!
But mental health is so real and many people suffer from mental health issues. In fact, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I only wish that more people would feel comfortable and confident to speak openly about the story in their head. Because with the right help, things can get better.
MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE STIGMA CAMPAIGN
I wish that somebody, anybody, had made me aware of how common maternal mental health issues are so I could’ve at least prepared myself ‘just in case’. Raising awareness is one of my main missions in life now and I think it is important to be real about it, rather than painting a perfect picture. Based on my experience, lack of awareness and losing my dad to suicide, I decided to create a campaign to put the stigma of mental health and suicide on its head. The campaign #ONITSHEAD will go live on World Suicide Prevention Day 10th September 2018. I need as many people as possible to join the campaign to help make mental health and suicide a comfortable topic of discussion. When the campaign goes live, I hope it will be a conversation starter and empower more people to talk.
At this stage, all you would need to do is join. But on the day, 10th September 2018, it would be great if you could place your hand on your head and take a selfie. You will then need to rotate it upside down and post it on social media with #ONITSHEAD with an outline about why you are supporting. You can join the campaign today by clicking here and find out more.
I believe it is so important to speak about yourself for good mental health. When you have something on your mind and you need to get it out, you must get it out! I am the type of person that cannot store too many mental notes. Say for example I have an idea, I have to get it out of my head otherwise I feel like I have a whole load of mental baggage. In fact my mind feels like an overloaded luggage belt at the peak of summer! If I don’t off load some baggage, I tend to feel overwhelmed with a whole load of thoughts running through my mind.
I’m on a mission to share my story, inspire & empower others and increase awareness on mental health & suicide. I hope that through public speaking, I can inspire others to look after their mental health too.
Just remember, it is OK not to be OK. By being open about what’s on your mind, it could make it easier to get the help you may need. We often fear the extreme, but help comes in many forms such as talk therapy. Sometimes simply getting it out can make you feel a whole lot better. And remember this- talk about yourself for good mental health.
To a broken family, RIP to your beautiful angel Sophie Gradon. Love Sherene x