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Ross-shire MSP Gail Ross opens up on mental health challenges

By Hector MacKenzie

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Gail Ross MSP.
Gail Ross MSP.

A ROSS-SHIRE MSP has opened out on the toll 10 years as an elected member has taken on her health.

Gail Ross made her remarks on her Twitter feed this afternoon on what is World Suicide Prevention Day in a bid to encourage others to consider their own mental health and wellbeing and to look after themselves.

The Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MP wrote: "One of the reasons I'm not standing for re-election is that for 10 years as an elected member I have been completely focussed on helping others, to the detriment of my own mental and physical health. I now know that self care is not selfish, it's essential.

"We are very ready to tweet and tell people #ItsOkayNotToBeOkay or #ItsGoodToTalk but sometimes you don't want to admit you feel this way or you don't want to be a burden.

"Sometimes when someone asks you 'how are you today?' You just rely on the old...'fine'. Paint that smile on. Because anything else requires energy or honesty. The worst thing is when you eventually do open up, whether it's in a considered way or a spur of the moment way and you are dismissed.

"Your feelings are not seen as valid or your concerns are ignored.It makes you feel worse.

"Some people really do want to help so here's a bit of advice – if you know someone that is struggling - listen. Hear them.Don't dismiss them.Don't joke about them behind their back.Don't patronise them.

"Don't ever assume you know them or what they are going through.When someone says to me 'hey stranger' or 'I've not seen you for ages' that's because I've come home and closed the door because I'm exhausted with all the travelling. Or have a mountain of papers and emails to get through.Or simply just can't face the world for a bit.

"I wake up in the middle of the night and lay awake for hours. I worry uncontrollably about things I can't control.I worry how my mental health issues are affecting my family.I worry about being so far away and something going wrong. I worry about worrying too much.

"This has been really difficult for me to open up about because I am an intensely private person and my overriding instinct is that this is my business and no-one else's.

But if I am going to tell people #MentalHealthMatters then mine does too."

She signed off with #WorldSuicidePreventionDay.

The thread has already drawn praise for its openness. Duncan Hothersall wrote: "So, so powerful that you have done this. It is brave and you should be proud, and I don't mean either of those things in a glib way but absolutely sincerely. This will help people, and I know that because it has already helped me. Thank you, and take care."

Related: WATCH - Staggies' stars: It's okay not to be okay

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