Mental health, it matters.

As this week draws to an end, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share how I’ve really been feeling lately.

This week was mental health awareness week. A week that means so much for so many, a chance to break the stigma, a chance to talk, a chance to try to understand, a chance to admit it’s okay to not be okay. And although I think it’s incredible how far the world has come in terms of discussing mental health, we’re not quite there yet. It’s still very much a taboo subject. It’s something that I’ll admit I still feel quite vulnerable discussing.

At the start of this week I wanted to share my story of my past, and of my battle with my own mental health. My fight with my eating disorders, to my anxiety that has held me back time after time. But the truth is I wasn’t ready to share. I can try to convince the world around me, I can try to convince me. But the truth is sometimes I’m still really not okay. And this week I wasn’t. Which is why I want to share my story now. But not a story from the past, my life right now. I like to think that I am strong, or try to be at least. I don’t show my emotions to anyone really, but this week I know I’m not okay, and that’s okay.

A few weeks ago I fell ill with a suspected chest infection. I’ve had a cough for about 6 weeks and felt I needed to do something about it. That this isn’t right. After realising after taking antibiotics that this was not an infection things have become a little more challenging. No one knows what’s wrong yet, a few words have been thrown about but we are still no closer. But this has been the hardest bit, which has made me realise I’m not as strong as I thought. The doctor mentioned the word cancer. It hit me hard. The probability is very, very minimal but the bit that was harder for me? The fact I was given steroids to help. The second he mentioned they can cause weight gain, I spiralled. Automatically re-thinking what I eat, a thousand thoughts through my head. Old tendencies, old diet tricks. Then it really hit me. I was more scared of gaining weight out of my control than I was of having cancer. Reading that sentence I just wrote makes me feel so disappointed so angry at myself. Because its the truth.

But it’s my mind. My mind that has been through so much. I overthink every thing in life. For so long I thought it was just what everyone did? But it’s not. That’s my anxiety. That’s the little voice of self doubt always there. The one that says they don’t really like you, the one that says you are just not good enough for anyone of anything, the one that says what if you just disappeard would anyone notice? This voice for so long controlled me.

I was discussing mental health with a friend the other day, she mentioned that anxiety and depression is becoming more and more common. That you hear about it so much more than you every used to. And I made a point, a point which I personally think is rather accurate. Just five years ago, mental health was never discusssed. I remember telling people about my eating disorder after diagnosis and so many people not understanding, almost not believing me. ‘You’re not skinny enough to have anorexia or bulimia’. ‘You’re skinny but you don’t look ill’. Eating disorders are usually related to as a physical health problem not a mental health. But the reality is they all start with the mind The reason I think we hear more people opening up about mental health is because we are getting there, we are in tiny, minuscule portions, chipping away at the stigma. More people feel more comfortable discussing mental health because so many more people are opening up. So many are saying do you know what it is okay not to be okay.

I would like to think I’m regards to my mental health that I’m just treading water. I have days where I’m swimming, days where I’m drowning. But mostly just treading. I’m not on any medication, but I do try to practice self care and positive thinking strategies. This is something I haven’t been coping with this week. Taking steroids to help with my physical health has actually made my mental health take a u-turn.

This week a famous celebrity, in my opinion abused her power as a ‘role model’ to hundreds of thousands of people, by promoting an appetite surprisser. I spoke about how disappointed I was briefly but the reality it was I struggled with it. I was really triggered by this. I felt for 16 year old me, popping raspberry keotonez and obsessing over step ups to burn that extra pound. And all I could think was how many 16 year old girls saw that ad and genuinely thought it was a good idea. And then it struck me how many men or woman or children saw that image and thought yes, this could work for me. And that scared me. How could someone with so much social media power abuse it so thoughtlessly?

For a few seconds this week I’ve felt like 16 year old me. Wanting to curl up in a ball, wanting to just stop, wanting to just feel the weight drop off. And it’s so toxic. So this weekend I’ve tried to be more mindful. I’ve tried to focus on positives, I’ve tried not to overthink silly comments. Just telling myself I am worthy, I can do this. Writing down the little achievements. And it regards to social media? I’ve stepped back a little, I’ve given myself the space to focus on reading other people’s stories, taking in others experiences.

The thing is mental health is often sidestepped for importance, as the focus is hugely on physical health whenever the question of health is brought up. But they should both be seen in the same way, which they rarely do. I get health trolls constantly telling me I’m unhealthy, and yes my BMI is obviously higher than others, but I lead what I believe is a average healthy lifestyle. Although even if I didn’t health is so personal, mental and physical. No one has the right to judge you. I run, I eat a massively varied diet and yes sometimes my portions are a little big. Share bag? All for me! But I don’t worry, I don’t worry about eating the cake, enjoying the cuppa. But back in my bad days when I was 18? I was considered to be at a healthy BMI, but I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day, binge drinking at weekends, and eating tablespoons of mayonnaise as I’d have no money left from my self destructive lifestyle.

My mental health is now my priority. I know life is all about the balance but you need to do what’s best for you. You need to find your own methods of coping. For a lot of people medication can be amazing, it’s okay, more than okay. Personally it doesn’t work for me and that’s also okay. I’ve spoken about it before and I find running is amazing for my mental health. I think everyone has different methods of self care. And sometimes it is more than just a bubble bath at the end of the week. Sometimes it’s getting help when you need it, seeing a doctor, speaking to someone or even just letting it all go.

I think what I really wanted to get across from this blog is that you really are never alone. There is always help, always someone to speak to, always someone who can relate, always someone to listen.

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