Why I Am So Open About My Mental Health | World Mental Health Day

It took me a long while to have the guts to open up about anxiety to those closest to me as I felt alone, ashamed and like no-one would understand or care.

The stigma surrounding mental health was very different when I got diagnosed with anxiety ten years ago at the age of sixteen. Mental health was never spoken about at school so when I first got diagnosed I had no idea what anxiety actually was. Of course I knew you could feel anxious, but anxiety and anxiety attacks boggled my mind.

There were times I thought I was going mad and that the physical symptoms I kept getting were all in my head. My first panic attack frightened me so much I still get anxious about having another. I felt like I was dying. My hurt felt like it was ripping and I couldn’t breathe properly. My poor parents bundled me into the family car to visit an out-of-hours doctor who ended up being completely useless and couldn’t diagnose me. Looking back I know it was a panic attack.

I don’t know how I would have got through my teenage years without my parents. My mum slept next to me on the nights I didn’t want to be alone. They put up with my anxiety-provoked anger. Food would be made for me on those days I felt too fed up with life to eat. I was too anxious to drive so my dad drove me everywhere. My mum would reassure me when I told her I didn’t want to be here anymore. I am beyond thankful to have had them there for me; more than words can explain.

I have a vivid and heartbreaking memory of a seventeen year old me sitting at my Dell dial-up desktop searching for blogs on anxiety. There were about three different posts I looked at but I couldn’t find anything to give me a glimmer of hope or understanding. Not like there is today.

I felt frightened, alone and confused and I feel so bad for my younger self.

Why am I so open about my mental health?

Because I would hate to feel like there are others out there who are feeling the way I did at sixteen. The fact of the matter is that 1 in 4 people in the UK suffer a mental health problem each year yet so many feel abandoned and afraid. The more that people speak up about it, the less stigma there will be attached to it.

I am also not ashamed anymore. I am a normal twenty six year old that has a full-time job, in a relationship, has a handful of friends, that loves to be active and is a chocoholic. Having anxiety does not define me and I live a normal life. There is such a misunderstanding of mental health that you can’t function properly or are not a valued member of society, but that is totally wrong.

I have been made to feel weak, like an outcast and weird by those who don’t understand. The reality is that I am probably a lot stronger and more resilient than those people will ever be. Mental health sufferers are not weak.

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5 Comments

  1. October 11, 2017 / 7:32 am

    I believe the more it is spoken about and the more people who share their story, the more people will understand, the more people will be helped. You’re doing a great thing by sharing your story and opening up.

    Steph x
    http://www.wanderlustpulse.com

  2. October 12, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    Beautiful post. The idea that sufferers are weak is one of the worst misconceptions surrounding mental health. Thank you for posting about it and hope you’re doing well. xx

    • wellnessandwander
      Author
      October 13, 2017 / 9:55 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read it. I hope I can help others 🙂

  3. January 31, 2018 / 5:54 pm

    Im a bit late in discovering your blog, but just want to say what a great read it is! There is nothing more refreshing than reading posts that are open, honest and allows you to connect with the readers. Look forward to reading more!

    • wellnessandwander
      Author
      February 7, 2018 / 12:09 pm

      Thank you so, so much! That means the world to me. One of the main aims of my blog is to be real and honest, so I am glad that comes across x

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