World Mental Health Day – What it meant to me

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I was pretty overwhelmed by all the social media posts and felt compelled to share my own experiences…

I have thought long and hard about sharing this, but I know I am one of the lucky ones – Mental Health manifests itself in many forms both inwards and outwards. From early childhood, I suffered odd behaviour and odd thinking but was completely unaware this was not the norm.

Moving into my teenage years I began to bang my head on things especially pavements which developed into cutting of arms and legs and latterly the soles of my feet. This was nearly 40 years ago and I assumed no one else did this, there was no internet, I was ashamed and guilty and spent many summer months in long sleeves, I was 11 going on 90.

Flash forward over many decades there were many manifestations and periods of wellness mixed with crippling anxiety, suicidal thoughts, isolation and lots of mask wearing. I didn’t realise how much I was impacting others around me, family and friends who watched me destroying myself.

My illness also made me selfish. I received lots of help from services and friends. I was so lucky that my local health services especially my GP’S signposted, supports, offered and even mandated support. But I was also so lost in my head I was unable to have any clarity so got help, assumed I was cured and moved on without running the course.

Medication did help manage some of the physical aspects of the illness but I needed to do more than manage life. Some years ago I took a leap of faith and decided to be honest about myself and everything in my life.

Guess what it came as no surprise to those in the profession and those around me……to cut along story short I know I have an illness, but I know it’s manageable, I know I am cared about and I know I am one of the lucky ones to have received NHS support over the years that I can truthfully say saved my life.

Please please if anyone out there thinks I am a professional, I can’t have an illness, I can’t suffer from mental health problems, what will people say…please don’t be ashamed, please don’t think you can’t have an illness and a profession and a life, you can.

Please reach out and talk to someone, take those steps…