The 13 -19th May 2019 marks Mental Health Awareness week here in the UK, and whilst it’s not like me to post a time-appropriate blog; bringing awareness to my own mental health this week has organically brought me here.

Mental health is not new! But it is thankfully becoming something we are starting to talk about, blog about and even sing about.

It’s perhaps one of the greatest invisible illnesses and can be the biggest killer, especially amongst men.

There is still so much stigma attached to those two little words, ‘Mental Health’.  Just by speaking them we often get subconsciously divided into camps for the weak and the strong; falling subject to ignorance, judgement and even other people’s unprecedented fear.

Yet through my personal and professional experience of working for many years within health and social care, I know that it actually takes incredible strength and self-awareness to say the words ‘I’M NOT OK‘.   In fact, it’s an admired vulnerability I am still trying to master myself.

Mental health doesn’t fit neatly into a tick-box as it resides on an ever evolving subjective spectrum, nestled somewhere deeply within a very personal healing journey.

It doesn’t always come with a diagnosis and it’s so much more than the commonly labelled and experienced ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety.’

It’s not something that always needs medicating, is a long term issue or inevitably leads to suicide.  It doesn’t belong to a certain pocket of people or age group, as it does not discriminate.  It doesn’t always present as someone crying in a darkened room as it can equally be the tears of insecurity behind someone’s beaming smile.  And above all else, I can guarantee you that it’s something we will all have to work hard to manage at multiple times during our lives.

For some, that battle of course will be a daily occurrence and none of what I say here is said to discredit that very reality.

Mental health is no doubt the increasingly recognised and experienced conditions of depression and anxiety, which given the age of social media show-reels, the filtered selfie, our environmental crisis and political poverty, it’s no wonder so many of us are finding it hard to process our feelings and to cope.

Mental health can be an eating disorder, an addiction, a hormonal imbalance, low self-esteem or poor body image.  It can be something experienced temporarily following traumatic experiences, grief or major life changes.  It can be something that intensifies with transitional birthdays and age brackets, spiritual awakenings, or even something that just runs alongside the relentless impact of a chronic illness.  It’s quite simply anything that becomes all consuming, disabling, life-limiting or keeps us locked into our unforgiving head-space.

But mental health is so much more than a handful of labels, as we are complex beings with an array of emotions and coping strategies.  We naturally fluctuate in mood and the ability to ‘soldier on’ inline with our own journeys, our hormones, our environments and the very cycle of the moon.  We all have endurance limits.

Like many people I have lived with my mental health demons largely behind closed doors, through an on-off love affair with anti-depressants during my adolescence, and going as far as attempting suicide in my early 20’s.  I’ve tried the orthodox route to managing what feels like an overload of emotions at times and have gone running down the alternative corridor, only to find that now the time calls for balance somewhere between the two.

I grew up with depression and would say that I am prone to periods of it even now.

Being bullied throughout the whole of secondary school took it’s toll on my already low self esteem and I have battled an underlying eating disorder and poor body image my whole life.

I was always told I was ‘difficult’, ‘loud’, ‘needy’, ‘intense’ and the best of all ‘too sensitive’ for as long as I can remember, which led to having friendships and relationships with people who just reinforced those negative beliefs.  Struggling to find where I would ever fit in the world or feel ‘enough’ took a long time and is still something I question on my darker days.

I remember wanting to change the world from a young age, feeling ‘different’ somehow and like there was so much more than the life I was living or the God I was told to believe in.   I was no doubt an energy sensitive soul and an indigo child, but sadly I spent too long seeing my suppressed and misunderstood gifts as my weaknesses.  Where I also fell short on changing said world was that until recently I thought it could only come from being anyone else but me!

Since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) there is no doubt about it that my mental health has required more effort.

Some like to put you in said tick-box and just say that depression and MS go hand and hand, but for me I don’t think that’s true.   Past partners have even used this as an excuse for their own shitty behaviour.  But I don’t believe I get depressed because my brain ‘is not wired properly’, but because living with a chronic and largely invisible illness is exhausting and I get down about it.  It limits my dreams and it effects my ability to have fun, to work and to have relationships, so sometimes I am human and I feel resentful of that fact.

Furthermore, since awakening my inner Goddess and empath the journey to good mental health has been an even bigger battle, for I hear the cries of the land, the turmoil of the sea and the sufferings of a collective as if they were happening to my very being.  I am not energy numb.

My healing journey has also unearthed a deep rooted and unhealthy relationship with food, which is an addiction and journey I am  trying to understand and overcome.  Add to that a personal struggle with accepting my sexuality and you have a toxic cocktail for low self-worth and poor mental health!

But all this aside, I would say I am in a good place now.  The very fact I can reflect on my journey so publicly and without shame or fear (thank Agrimony Bach flower) says it all really.

I share some of my story during this week of awareness as I am reminded this week just how hard I have had to work to be where I am today.

I do feel lost and I do get down at times.   I feel an overwhelming guilt and responsibility that I cannot do or be enough to change the world.  But today I treat myself with kinder eyes as I concentrate on how far I have come, not how far I still have to go.

How did I do it?

It’s taken facing my pain rather than projecting it onto others.  It has taken a shed load of Bach remedies, regular therapies, long periods of isolation, kissing A LOT of people I shouldn’t and finding a best friend in Audrey the Yorkie!  And above all else it has taken incredible effort, strength, resilience and personal sacrifice to walk away from anyone and anything that doesn’t serve me, and to dance unapologetically to my own tune.

I do not see myself as a mental health advocate or that my biggest battles are all in my head.  I am not trying to jump on any bandwagon or to say that I am a mental health expert.  But I do see myself as being lucky enough to have a public platform that I can use for change and awareness.  Together with my social work foundations, and now being the owner of a business that is fundamentally set up to support those on a journey of self-discovery, it feels crucial to be amongst the people bringing awareness to this week of wellness.

Through this personal and rather difficult journey I am the person I am today.   I am the healer I am today.  I am the channel and intuitive I am today.  For I can resonate with the shadows as much as the light and I will always turn my pain into empathy to support rather than to tear down.

Be kind to yourselves this week and always.

Yours in love and light,

 

 

 

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