Every single time another famous name hits the news my heart drops. It was drugs, it was alcohol, it was the fame, the fear, it hurts, deep. The amount of pain and suffering that person must have gone through is a struggle that is all too familiar for many of us. Every loss is a reminder about how important it really is to openly speak about mental health, on how we approach mental health topics and how taking the time to educate ourselves could quite literally save lives. Many of us are saddened to hear when another celeb has taken their own life, for those of us who have struggled or are still struggling with suicidal thoughts - we think about how it could have been ourselves. Suicide is a symptom of a disease, of a battle that many of us are facing and fighting, every day. A celebrity's suicide is yet another warrior we have lost. A person wounded so deep they wanted the pain to stop.

The following is a little poem I wrote about what mental illness is like. I didn't think I was going to write a poem, I just started typing and this is what happened.


Mental illness has many faces,
it is a deceiver,
it smiles, it dances
and then it cries and it slanders.
It stays at home and it goes out,
it makes you scared of your own mind.
It's old, it's young,
both well dressed and can be fun.
It is a little voice that grows bigger and stronger,
why keep on going this much longer.
Mental illness is an abuser,
one that wants to strip away your future.
Suicide is a way for mental illness to make itself known,
in the most terrifying and horrifying way shown.
Hey, I'm here; it says
and the problem is, take a wild guess -
most of us just don't really care.
We don't care because we don't know.
Nothing will change if we don't grow.
Don't wait for the next headline
or for another precious soul to flatline.
Mental illness tears families apart
so the change is now that needs to start.

— Jolien Nathalie 


Mental illness is a topic that is so misunderstood and even I, as a person who's been struggling with depression since childhood, fall into the hands of ignorance surrounding mental health. When I heard of Mike Thalassitis' passing I couldn't quite believe it. He was 26, handsome, strong built and successful. He took his own life. Once again I was reminded of how poor mental health and mental illness doesn't actually 'look' like anything. Mental illness doesn't care about your money, it doesn't care about your status, your job, your success, your looks or your fame. It's often invisible, tucked away for no one to see. It's difficult to deal with for the person who is suffering. Through therapy I learned that my struggle with depression and anxiety was caused by childhood trauma - but it was only until I actually started talking to a professional that I became aware of the fact that I was raised in an abusive environment. I didn't know I needed help and I didn't know people could help me. I just knew that I was extremely sad and that I didn't have any more life to give. This is the reason why I am open about my mental health journey - because I want others to be able to recognise that there are solutions for whatever pain is burning in your chest. No matter how insignificant your feelings seem, they're not. You're not being dramatic. Your feelings are real. If you need help and you don't know where to go, search for the nearest public welfare center in your area. In Belgium you can find them here and/or here. Because I am Flemish I ended up going to the CAW, I walked into one of their facilities during opening hours, cried my eyes out in front of a stranger and ended up where I'm still going to therapy today, 3 years on. The people from the CAW checked up on me while I was on a 6 months waiting list to receive treatment and then helped me to book my first appointment. They take matters very seriously and I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for a public service like this. For some of us, booking an appointment with a doctor or a mental health counselor just isn't that simple or even financially affordable. It's in places like this that you can find what suits your needs. I was very vulnerable at that time and while I had to wait for very long, it was so worth it and I want you to know that, if you're struggling, you're worth it too.