My World and Mental Health

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I thought I would write a blog about mental health; the effects it has had on me and how common it is in today’s society.

   So lets start with the facts; one in four of us will suffer from a mental health disorder in our lifetime and currently there are approximately 450 million people suffering world-wide. That is an astonishing figure. The number of medicines dispensed for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks has doubled in the past 10 years. Why is this? Is it because more people are coming forward and being open about their struggles or is it from the pressure of our modern world where technology and social media rules our lives?

 Lets face it, I’m sure at some point one of us has compared our lives to others on Facebook or Instagram. Who has had the latest amazing holiday in Bali to who has just bought a brand new sports car. I certainly have been guilty of doing this. Social media can be an amazing benefit to our world but I definitely believe it is a contributing factor to this epidemic.

I read a twitter post by the artist James Arthur the other day about how he experienced a panic attack whilst on stage and how he was able to carry on and not outwardly show his struggle. He expressed how he felt he was going to die and how terrified he was.

 ” I had an anxiety attack on stage in front of 12,000 people tonight and no one would’ve known but I thought i was gunna die on stage which is maybe the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life “

It just goes to show that mental health can affect anyone and everyone. Statistics say that more woman are affected than men although unfortunately more men are more likely to commit suicide.

My battle with mental health started at the age of 14. I remembered I would wake up everyday feeling low and miserable. I didn’t know why I felt this way. I just did and it affected my social and school life immensely. I was referred for counselling and by the time I was 17 I was given my first low dose of antidepressants. Over the years I trialled so many different drugs until I found the right one for me that didn’t give me any nasty side effects.

In my mid 20s I developed my own coping mechanisms and my depression eased. I managed to go quite a few years without any medication at all. Unfortunately a few months ago I had to go back to the doctors and ask for help. I started to experience full-blown panic attacks. I have never suffered from anxiety before so I didn’t really know what was happening to me and it is very scary.

Imagine the sheer panic, every hair sticking up from your body,  adrenaline pulsating through every vein and the world feeling like its enclosing on you. Times that by 100. My anxiety actually causes me to have physical symptoms; numbness and a horrible burning sensation throughout the top half of my body. Like James Arthur I have got very good at hiding these attacks and have what you call high functioning anxiety.

I am not ashamed of having mental health problems, it does not define who I am. I still continue to push myself and try to achieve the goals I set in life. Its not a choice, its something i’ve had to adapt to live with.

I do believe that there is still a negative stigma around mental health and some people see it as a weakness. I really hope this continues to change.

 “Its ok not to be ok”

There are so many positive mental health campaigns out there that are raising awareness and support for mental health. I believe these campaigns are literally saving thousands of lives if not millions a year. What can we do to help? You may think we are only one person what can I do to help anyone. You would be surprised at how a small gesture can make someones day. Smile, pay someone a compliment. Ask how someone is. Chances are they will say they are fine but the thought means a lot. Be kind, always. You never know what struggles other people are facing. Peoples lives can seem perfect and idyllic on social media but it isn’t always as its portrayed. Talk about mental health to friends, family and colleagues and lets end the stigma once and for all.

Lots of love guys,

Annahands holding letters spelling out Mental Health

links: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved

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