This week was mental health awareness week and we felt it so important to acknowledge that 1 in 4 of us will be affected by mental health difficulties at some point in our lives. This means that all of us are affected. We shared our stories on our social media and decided to share them with you too.
It is no secret that many of us suffer with our mental health, and I am one of them. With the platform of Instagram and it being #mentalhealthawarenessweek , I thought it was super important to talk about this.⠀
Mental health is something I have dealt with for around 8 years now, and I have had numerous counselling, therapy and other methods of help. On my journey, I have come a long way, but this last year has been the hardest. I returned home from uni in March last year, and as the world around me stopped due to COVID, so did I. I found myself dealing with issues that happened 10 years ago, but now I know that’s okay and if I didn’t deal with them, they would still be bubbling away. In December I found myself unexpectedly struggling again.
In January I suffered burnout. My way of ‘coping’ is keeping busy – but I made myself too busy. I found myself stressed, terrible headaches, lack of concentration and could not do my day to day activities. It was time to stop. Luckily for me I have such a supportive sister and she knew this was no good for me. I took a few weeks off (which I struggled with) took some time for myself and over lockdown found my love of walking.
Coincidently, this year's mental health awareness is related to Nature, but isn’t there just nothing more beautiful? In the picture above, I felt the worst I ever felt, but this one walk made me feel so much better.⠀
I am fortunate to say that at the moment I feel the best I have ever felt, and I feel really good, but I am still on my journey and my journey is full of lessons.⠀
I won’t be afraid to tell you that this week I’ve had 2 panic attacks and I’ve been paralysed by anxiety at moments. I can also tell you, that I’ve had some really nice moments this week. Happy moments. Good moments. Beautiful moments. I’ve made it through another week, I’ve achieved a lot and I look forward to next week with positivity.
Last year, I began wild swimming. Something that has helped me #connectwithnature and manage my anxieties in a healthy way. There’s something about swimming in nature that I can’t describe. It triggers endorphins, serotonin and it’s exhilarating.
But it also slows my mind, rather than 50 anxious thoughts in a second, there’s 1. Then a different one. Then a different one. It helps give you some perspective that in that moment, you only have to survive, nothing else. I carry that forward into my life, if all I can do in this moment in survive then I’m living.
I sat on a bench yesterday and thought ‘will I always feel this way?’ The likelihood is yes I will and I felt sad. But every day I learn more about myself, I change the way I respond to these moments and every bad moment is different. We are ever evolving and everything is temporary. I try and remember that when it’s tough - this too shall pass.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible life, I’m grateful for support around me, ongoing professional help and the ability to make choices each day that support me. People who don’t know me might not even think twice when they interact with me, because I don’t ‘show any signs’ or I’m completely functional. But maybe that’s the point. You don’t know what anyone else is going through and everyone will have some experience of mental health difficulties, either themselves or through someone around them.
I live with anxiety. I’ll probably always live with anxiety, but sometimes I think it makes me a better person. At least I’m always prepared for every eventuality.
We were together this weekend and we started at 4.45am and hit the beach for sunrise. Hot chocolate, fresh air and a perfect way to start the weekend. It doesn't solve everything but it's there.
This is our opportunity to say to please reach out to TOPA if you are struggling, our DMs and email are always open for a chat, don’t stop talking, reach out and #connectwithnature.
Other places to find help:⠀
Mind: 0300 123 3393⠀
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774⠀
Calm: 0800 58 58 58⠀
Mental Health Foundation: www.mentalhealth.org.uk⠀
Samaritans: 116 123⠀
Young Minds UK: buff.ly/2tBO8Ko
Text Shout: Text 85258