The Importance of Zayn Leaving

We all know I love One Direction, and I think we're also equally as aware of the fact that Zayn has been my fav since day one when he refused to dance at bootcamp, but to be honest a large part of me sees him leaving as a positive thing. No, I don't think the group will be better off, and on that side of things I'm not happy about it at all. For proof of this you need only look at the fact Fiona and I held a candlelight vigil by our shrine before covering it with a pillowcase for the mourning period. Once again, who let us live together. However, from what I can tell in terms of his mental health and general wellbeing, this is probably the best move he could have made.

As someone who has spent a large portion of the last 4+ years carefully examining every move made by the beautiful specimen that is Zayn Malik, it's become increasingly clear that on one level or another he hasn't been in a good place for a while now. If you compare photos or videos of him in 2011 or 2012 to any from the last year, it's a pretty stark contrast. He barely speaks or smiles, and although he's always been more shy than the others his overall demeanour has changed and his energy is gone. Going purely on what I've seen as someone who doesn't actually know him personally, I think he may be dealing with some kind of depression or anxiety that definitely hasn't been helped by being in the public eye. He's said publicly numerous times that he doesn't deal well with attention or the impact that his fame has on his personal life and the people he cares about, and from where I sit this has been a long time coming.

No, that doesn't make it any less upsetting, but I think we should be focusing on the positive implications of him leaving: namely the opportunity to use this as a springboard to start talking about the importance of prioritising mental health. Whether he's dealing with actual mental illness or not, he's made the decision to put his own wellbeing first - despite the fact that doing so in his situation must be terrifying and unthinkably difficult - and that's something more people should be encouraged to do.

When I was first diagnosed with anxiety in 2013 I was in a position where I was prioritising someone else's wellbeing over my own. I didn't realise the full impact of this at the time, but looking back now the fact that I was putting all of my energy into making sure somebody else was alright at a time when I really should have been looking after myself had an extremely negative effect on my mental health. My anxiety would have been shit either way, because any mental illness is, but once I started focusing wholly on myself and my recovery things started to feel a lot easier.

There's such a stigma attached to mental illness, and a lot of the time it isn't taken as seriously as it should be, which can make it even more difficult to feel justified in making taking care of yourself and your recovery a priority. I'm very lucky in that my family and the people I keep around me are extremely supportive and try their best to sympathise/empathise with and accommodate whatever I'm going through, even if they don't completely understand it themselves. If I still managed to find myself in a situation where I felt guilty for prioritising my own mental health, I can only imagine how difficult it can be for other people without such a strongsupport network to take the same steps.

Nothing about mental illness is easy, but there are things you can do to help yourself and improve your chances of getting better more quickly than you would otherwise. No one else can prioritise your wellbeing for you. Like the decision to accept help, this is one you need to make yourself.

I'm going to be making a more in-depth video specifically about my advice for people dealing with anxiety some time next week (it may be another blog post depending on how overwhelmed I get when I'm trying to film), but I felt like this was an important opportunity to take. If you're struggling with any kind of mental illness, or another situation in your life where you're finding it hard to put yourself first, please take this a sign to prioritise your own wellbeing. You may feel like you have to keep all your balls in the air and don't have any energy left to use on yourself, but ultimately if your mental health deteriorates so will everything else. Focus on yourself now, so you can focus on the rest later.

If you need a place to start:

Farewell, sweet angel. I will still google you every day.

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