This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week. And to see all the positive posts online, the conversations taking place and the breaking down of those barriers has been heartwarming to see. And we mustn’t let it fade away because keeping up the conversation and challenging the stigma is vital for absolutely everyone, for those 1 in 4, and those that love and look out for them.
For me, this week not only marks a positive place in mental health campaigning but a personal victory of my own. This time a year ago I had already spent about 4 months battling with a level of anxiety I had never known before (mainly around food) and I had basically put my life on hold because of it. I cancelled plans with friends, forgot all about my plans to talk to the guy I liked, stopped eating out, lost a ton of weight I couldn’t afford to lose and worried constantly about getting out of the horrible headspace I suddenly found myself in. What made it feel worse was the amazing years I’d had leading up to that moment. I just wanted to be back to the old me.
The anxiety seemed to drag on forever. The world was changing, mostly for the worse, around me and I felt miserable and most of all, stuck. It wasn’t until the autumn when my old self started breaking back through. And what was surprising was that I didn’t want to go back to being just her. Because I also had this new, stronger, more self-aware girl in the mirror. And so with the best of old me and the best of new me, I became myself again. And today I’m a comfortable and happy version of them both.
A lot has thankfully changed in a year and a lot has had to happen to get me here. Would I rather I hadn’t lost all those months in an anxious haze? Of course. But am I glad I’ve found peace at the end of it? Yes. And I’ve learnt a lot of lessons about mental health along the way that I may not have figured out otherwise. And I’ve learnt a lot about how to notice the changes in my mood and anxiety, and what causes it, so I can make changes to my routine or simply take time out for myself.
Life is a journey for us all, and our mental health is just as big a part of that as our physical health and our personal and social lives. One of the biggest things I learnt last year was to let go. The minute I did was the minute I could see a way out of my anxiety. Fighting against it just seemed to fuel it.
Keep talking, keep sharing these stories and keep supporting one and other when they need you.