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NLAW: Hidden Challenges

Our second blog post for Nightline Awareness Week! Today we have a blog post about the hidden mental health and wellbeing challenges that people and communities face.

TW: mental illness, pain, chronic illness, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism

There are challenges, hidden or otherwise, in every aspect of life. These can vary wildly - from deciding what Netflix show to watch, to writing that essay, to getting up and out of bed every day. And everyone is different! That is what makes the world such an exciting, varied and sometimes frustrating place. Even the smallest, simplest of tasks for one person can be a days worth of work for someone else. There are so many factors of why this may be the case - a mental or physical disability can hinder how easy a task is to complete. More often than not, a disability is invisible, which really highlights the importance of kindness and patience when it comes to interacting with others.

Anxiety comes in so many different forms, and those who experience it do see life differently. Sometimes, going to the shops or getting on a bus is too much and it seems easier to just be cocooned in the safety of what is familiar. So many students face anxiety in the form of chronic procrastination, where one assignment that shouldn’t be particularly challenging becomes a task that feels daunting and impossible. You put it off as much as you can until you’re rushed to finish it, because that way it’s easier to have an excuse for if you fail. It’s much easier to justify a bad mark when you can say ‘yeah but I didn’t revise for it’. More often than not this is seen as laziness, and you beat yourself up for it when really it is something to accept and learn from. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure play a much bigger role in our lives than we might think, and being kind and gentle to yourself will provide a mindset that is better prepared to heal and grow.

Invisible physical disabilities, such as living with chronic pain, are often under-recognised to the point where sufferers face discrimination. There’s a lot of trauma in being in constant pain - other than losing the ability to live your life freely, pain perpetuates a cycle of self-hatred. Not being able to exercise or be fully autonomous can trigger body-image issues, anxiety and sadness, and reliving the trauma of pain everyday is not something that most people have to deal with. Those who are fortunate enough to not know what that is like must use their privilege to recognise, spread awareness and support their friends, families, colleagues and even strangers.

It’s fair to say that 2020 so far has been horrible for everyone, but it has brought about admirable camaraderie in the face of racism - millions of people who will never truly understand the challenges people of colour face have educated themselves and taken real steps to becoming more supportive citizens. The phrase ‘I understand that I will never understand, however, I stand’ comes to mind and applies to everyone who doesn’t face regular discrimination in their every day lives. More can still be done to abolish racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and all injustice, but a step in the right direction where the challenges people face are then challenged by others is something to be celebrated.

There are challenges for everyone everywhere, but challenges are made to be overcome. To face tasks that scare you, whether or not you are successful at them is an accomplishment in itself, and I hope you are proud of yourself when you get out of bed everyday and live your life. Sometimes you need a pat on the back for just existing, because existing is difficult at the moment. Be kind to yourself, be compassionate towards others and remember that while no one is ever in the same boat, we are all doing our best to get by in the same storm.

Written by: Serena Shakshir


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