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

October 10, 2017

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.

5 responses to “Why I Am So Open About My Mental Health | World Mental Health Day”

  1. Steph Dring says:

    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

  2. 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

  3. Natalie says:

    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 says:

      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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