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The Fragility of the Mind: The Story of Vicky Bannister

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***The staff at Medium Magazine are not trained in mental health treatments and/or suicide prevention. If you are experiencing troubles, please seek professional help through a licensed therapist or call a suicide hotline from your country.***

There is only one thing I have always been sure of: when I grow up I want to be a strong and independent woman. Little did I know that living up to society’s standards was going to be this hard. Waking up everyday with bags under my eyes, talking to people with a smile on my face, showing the world that I got it all under control. No worries needed. I know exactly what I’m doing. Or do I?

I used to think that people create problems because they need something to deal with constantly, because if we have a problem we also have a way out, an excuse to reassure ourselves when we fail. However, maybe there’s something more. Sometimes we just have to let the barriers down and simply say ‘I’m human and I’m allowed to be fragile’. 

Vicky, 21, showed me that real strength is overcoming your problems and opening up to others, for all you are with your toughness and your flaws.

She is a first-year Anthropology student at the University of Amsterdam and, on New Year’s Eve, she was taken to the Department of Intensive Care, GGZ Ingeest Haarlem, because she was considered a danger to herself.

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Vicky, a day before she was taken to the hospital – Source: Vicky Bannister

How Everything Started (Probably)

“Everyone asks me where everything started, but the truth is that I have no idea,” she told me, referring to her mental health. Everything just happened and she was scared to talk to others about what was going on in her mind because she had to be “strong and independent” like most young women are told to be nowadays. We show this pretty and determined facade to everyone else and we keep the fragilities to ourselves, as we fight them in the dark. Alone. “I was as guilty as everyone else” she explained of “seeming smiley and preppy”. She couldn’t stop looking at her Instagram feed every morning, scrolling through perfectly taken pictures of people smiling and laughing, asking herself why she couldn’t be as happy and free as all of them looked. Although, soon she discovered that it wasn’t all real. 

Social media life is not real life. We show others only what we want them to see and, based on that, they have a certain idea of who and how we are. But it’s just one side of the millions we have. Just one, little facet of the whole. That’s why Vicky decided to make a change and opened an Instagram page called @beingperfectisboring where she just recently started sharing her story. “People feel embarrassed by [talking about] mental health, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about”, she asserted. And we should imprint this clearly in our minds, write it on the walls, talk about it with the people we know because, sometimes, all we need is someone to talk to, someone that will look at us in the eyes and tell us “don’t worry, I got you; you will be fine”. 

Looking Forward… or Backward? 

After being kept in a locked room under sedatives for a couple of days in the hospital, Vicky started to talk with a team of professionals, doctors and psychiatrists that helped her get through every day. She was released after a week, under the condition that she will hop on the next train back to the UK so that her parents could take care of her. But they were part of the group of people that she didn’t want to show her weakness to. “I don’t want them to have a child who is messed up, they did a good job in raising me” she said. But, family is family and they needed to know what was happening to her so, one step at a time, one day after the other, she started opening up. Together they started tracking her progress every day. 

We need to give ourselves credit for all of our achievements and cut ourselves some slack on the rest because we are allowed to make mistakes, we are allowed to learn and experience.

Often we are told that we should not look at the past but instead focus on the present and the future. However, sometimes we need to look back to realize how far we’ve come. We need to give ourselves credit for all of our achievements and cut ourselves some slack on the rest because we are allowed to make mistakes, we are allowed to learn and experience. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to break our hearts, multiple times. But it will be worth it, because we are worth it. 

“It’s okay to not be okay,” Vicky told me with a smile. And she wants others to know that, she wants to help young adults realize that there are some standards that we will never be able to live up to because they are unrealistic. Her mantra is: “Being perfect is boring”. Her boyfriend had told her that sentence once, without even realizing how important it would’ve been for her to hear it and how important it could be for each and everyone of us. 

Don’t Let The Pyramid Crash!

Problems hit us when we feel that something is missing from our lives, and fortunately, there is a scientific explanation to what happens in our minds. The Maslow Pyramid explains that, as humans, we have some basic needs that if not met in our everyday lives, we collapse. This is possibly why when we don’t feel well we don’t eat. Physiological needs are the roots of the pyramid. When Vicky started losing her self-confidence and the sense of connection with the people around her, everything else kind of rolled in. Losing self-esteem can make us believe we are not worthy of the love others give us and, just like that, we don’t feel secure anymore. Everything circles back to the need for food and water, which she didn’t accept anymore either. 

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Source: SimplyPsychology

We Are All In This Together

Once you hit rock bottom it’s hard to stand back up, so it may seem like the fastest and only solution is ending it all. When you wake up but have no reason to start your day and push through, or when you think you have nothing left, the options might seem very limited. But there is someone for you out there, there always is. You just have to ask for them. Sadly, we are proud people and it’s hard to admit our defeat and scream for help, hoping someone will hear us and decide to rescue us. This is why Vicky pushed her pride away and decided to speak up. She wants to help others so that they don’t have to go through what she has, because sitting in an empty room, on your own, without the possibility of leaving, is something she wishes on nobody. 

Mental health is not easy. It’s not simple and talking about it might seem scary but doing so is important because citing a movie Vicky likes, “we are all in this together” and we should never leave each other’s side. So, make sure to check up on the people you love and let them know that, no matter what, you will be there for them. Reach out to people that live far from you, connect with new friends; you’ll never know but one, small text from you could change everything for someone. 

***The staff at Medium Magazine are not trained in mental health treatments and/or suicide prevention. If you are experiencing troubles, please seek professional help through a licensed therapist or call a suicide hotline from your country.***

 

Cover: Hybrid

Edited by: Yili Char

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Asiah Capponi
This is Asiah. Her passions include travelling, talking and watching Gilmore girls. She hopes to inspire others through her writing and let her readers know they are not alone.

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