Mental Health Awareness Week: I’m sharing my story

As it’s #MentalHealthAwareness week I wanted to share with you my personal struggles with my mental health. I know from the outside it can look like I am a confident business owner who loves my job and lives a perfect life. And sure, that’s mostly true. But it’s not always easy and I think you deserve to know that.

Since I was a teenager (and maybe even before then) I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression. For a long time I hid all of my feelings from everyone around me. Literally everyone. I got some very useful counselling and CBT while at university. But then I had the unfortunate, but not unusual, experience of all of my concerns being dismissed by a string of healthcare professionals. I once told a nurse that I thought the hormonal birth control I was taking was making me feel depressed. She said I had “nothing to worry about”. She was telling me that my depression was to be expected; just accept it and live with it. One particularly helpful GP told me, “You are young. Just be happy.” I’m not trashing GPs or nurses – they work bloody hard and face an impossibly long list of problems each day with increasingly limited resources and often times insufficient training. I don’t think anyone ever meant to cause me harm. But it means that for the better part of a decade I suffered in silence.

Things got better for me after I had my daughter. In my experience, post-natal care put a lot of focus on my mental health. I was constantly being asked by well-meaning, well-trained people how I was coping. It was then that I found a GP who really helped me. He referred me to a number of tools I could access (at a cost, tbf) and prescribed me Sertraline. Once I started taking Sertraline it was like coming up for air after being underwater for years. Medication doesn’t erase my anxiety or depression, but it is like having it at low tide. It’s there, ebbing at the edges of my mind. But it’s rare that I experience crashing waves of uncontrollable feelings.

I’ve recently returned to therapy with BetterHelp. I can’t say I enjoy it because it’s hard work. My therapist told me it’s like having surgery. You sign yourself up for a trauma that you know is going to cause you pain, have a long recovery time, and prevent you from doing things that you love for a while. But you only do that to repair the things that are broken. To heal the wounds. At the moment I’m wide open on the table and it hurts. But I trust that things will get better.

I think you deserve to hear my story because I think it’s pretty ordinary. I think lots of people struggle with the same things that I do. I felt alone for a long time. And I don’t want anyone else to ever feel alone. If any part of my story resonates and you want to chat, please get in touch. I’ll be here to listen. I’m not a mental health professional, so I can’t help you. But I can listen. And I can hold your hand (figuratively or literally) while you ask for help.

If you need someone to talk to, email me.


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