Mental Health Awareness week 18-24th May 2020

This week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK.

I've seen a lot of my favourite bloggers and influencers on social media come forward with their stories and it has inspired me to write a post of my own!

It's not a secret that i have anxiety and have suffered a little from depression in the past (hands up if your bored of me talking about it!). 

I feel like I am quite open with talking about what i am/have been through. Some people may view this as repetitive or boring but actually it is SO important to keep awareness at the surface.

For years I was ashamed of admitting to people that i was unhappy for fear of being labelled but now i realise that the best way to work through that sadness and anxiety is to TALK about it - make people aware of what your going through.

Image of me by Tim Steele
My Story - quick notes version!

Ever since i was a child i suffered with anxiety - meeting new people, taking exams, going to parties - even eating in front of people! I have such a vivid memory of being around 5 or 6 years old at my childminder's friends house. She offered me some nuts to eat but because i didn't know the friend I hid behind my childminder's back on the sofa to eat them... no idea why... and ever since then I've been anxious to eat in front of new people! 
Even in my 20's, when i was going on dates, i always insisted on drinks or a coffee until i felt comfortable enough with them... so weird.

I used to get a lot of tummy aches as a kid and my parents, doctors, specialists couldn't figure out why... looking back and talking with my mum, we figured out it was probably anxiety.

I was "OK" from age 18-22, I was in a relationship with my first boyfriend. He had a lot going on in his life that made my issues seem so small - and actually he often pointed that out. So I learnt to bottle things up and stay silent. This made things a lot worse for me when we finally broke up in 2015. 
Suddenly i was allowed to feel sad again, and i met people who actually wanted to listen to me. Lottie from "The Tummy Diaries" explained her experience like "flood gates opening" and waves just keep coming. Exactly like it was for me.

Image of me by Tim Steele

This was heightened when my daughter was born. I was low all the time and anxious and emotional about nothing! Just leaving the house took me so long! I didn't want to see my friends, which actually meant i lost touch with a few friends from uni, and became more distant with others. I felt really alone.
I didn't know why i was so sad all the time when i had this beautiful little girl and a supportive fiance. 

Going back to work was really hard as well. As i was so anxious and emotional, readjusting was difficult. I felt helpless, like i needed to be hand held with everything, My confidence in myself was non existent, which led to a breakdown at work that just tipped me over the edge.

It was seeing my fiance upset about me being upset that made me realise I should think about getting some help. I made an appointment with my GP who was so lovely. She told that i wasnt alone and shouldn't feel ashamed. She said it was likely i have a bit of postnatal depression as well as the anxiety and referred me for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). 

Doing CBT with my therapist was great - i was able to talk through my issues with a complete stranger. She taught me to open up and talk about things, to shake off the habit i'd learned when i was 18 to bottle things up and to stop thinking that my issues and feelings didn't matter.
She made me realise that I needed to speak up. People are not mind readers and are not going to know whats going on until you tell them. People as a human race are naturally selfish, not in a bad way, but they are not always aware of whats going on with other people until they are told! She even said to me on our first appointment -"you sitting in the waiting room - i would not of guessed you were my next appointment. You, like so many other girls of your generation, dress well, take pride in your appearance etc. I would not have known you were suffering until you had told me."

Photo of me by Gemma Fenlon

What Has Helped:

  • Talking -
    I can definitely recommend CBT. I was adamant that i didn't want to take medication for the depression. There is nothing wrong with it, it's just not what i wanted. I was prescribed a very mild beta blocker to help with symptoms of my anxiety attacks (fast heart beat, light headed, tingly fingers, inability to focus etc) but that's it.
    CBT worked in a way that it had to get worse to get better. My therapist opened a lot of old wounds that went back right into my childhood and brought forward memories and issues i didn't even know i was holding on to. But by doing this i was able to talk through them and find a way to sort of get over it!
    She gave me a lot of exercises and ways to think through and deal with new problems. I've gained wonderful life skills.  
  • Books -
    There is SO much literature out there about anxiety. There are self help books that are not for everybody, but they're good if you don't know where to start. I even got books to help me with the little things i was struggling with! For example, I live in a tiny flat, and was getting depressed that i didn't live in a bright and airy space that's super tidy and clean... so i bought a book that helped me to strategise how to clean my home. it might sound silly, but i was getting so bogged down about my home i wasn't taking care of it properly and when i did clean it was very day for hours and i hated it. So i bought a book that would tell me what to do and give me a clear plan on how to move forward . Simple.

    Some helpful books:

    - Its not OK to feel blue (and other lies).
    A collection of stories, poems and personal accounts from celebrities and influencers about their experiences with depression and anxiety. A great reminder that even celebrities can feel this way! Link Here

    - The Organised Mum Method 
    the book that gave me back the motivation to take care of my home!
    Link here

    - The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
    A modern Self help book that cuts through all the crap out there regarding anxiety and depression
    Link Here

    - Write it Down, Let it Go
    A nice little journal to write down all your worries to help you work through them. 
    Link Here
  • Positive Social Media -
    Limit your time on social media if it is making your depression or anxiety worse. I found that looking at these "perfect" Instagram accounts that show rich unobtainable lifestyles was making me feel bad about my life, even though i am actually so happy and content with my little family and lifestyle I've got going on. If its making you feel worse, just unfollow those accounts! They are so heavily edited anyway... probably not even a true reflection of their day to day life.

    Try and find accounts that will be a positive influence on you. Some accounts that i love:

    Lottie - founder of #mybloatedwardrobe. Mainly writes about dealing with IBS but very positive posts about body image and generally a very upbeat account to follow. Has had experiences with depression in the past and has some very helpful insights into dealing with it.

    Another body positive account! Great look on life and just a real person just winning at life! Very honest, uplifting and refreshing posts. Genuinley looks like a wonderful human being!

    Really helpful quotes and videos on life and dealing with anxiety and depression. Generally, just motivating!

    Lovely feed, she is mainly a fashionista but she has these posts that remind me that Instagram is all about the angles and editing. she posts "insta vs reality" pictures that are so funny but also so comforting! Her InstaStories are also very funny and relatable!

    I also try and make my instagram content as honest and relatable as i can. I post motivational quotes that I know have helped me in the past and pictures that make me feel good! 

There is so much information out there, you just need to filter through and find what helps you. I would definitely say if you learn anything from this post is to start with your circle, your world around you.
Look at what is influencing you - friends, family, social media, work etc. 
What can you do that will make you happier? Spending less time on social media? cutting out toxic friends? calling your family more? Figure out what makes you feel good and home in on that.

Next thing i would advise is visiting your GP. They're not just there for when your feeling ill. They can offer so much more in terms of someone to just have a chat with. They can refer you on to a service that can help you more if you needed, but they are a great first step into getting some help!

Obviously, Depression and anxiety are not the only mental health issues, but they are the ones that i can relate to.
I hope maybe this has helped if you are going through a similar situation... Please comment or contact me through Instagram if you need any advice or someone to just chat to!

If you would like more info on mental health or how you can get involved this week, please visit 


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