January 26, 2016

There’s a good chance that you, or a friend or loved one, has struggled with a mental health issue at some point in their life. Everyone has mental health, just as everyone has physical health, but because mental health can’t be visibly seen, a lot of people are scared of talking about it – they are scared of being judged. But just because something can’t be seen doesn’t mean someone can’t be struggling. 

For me, I’ve been a worrier ever since I can remember, my mind would always come to the worst possible solutions, and I would feel constantly sick and terrified with worry. For years however I lived behind a mask and concealed my anxiety and social anxiety which lead to me experiencing depression. For ages I thought it was just me being me. But in reality anxiety was slowly taking over my life, stopping me enjoying the things I loved and leaving me fearful, low and constantly on edge, unable to sleep and with zero confidence and self-esteem.  

I spent my life helping other people, believing that I wasn’t worth any help myself. But after a particularly low period I decided things couldn’t go on the way they were and I decided to talk to my boyfriend how I felt. I realised I wasn’t alone and with his support and his words of encouragement and kindness I found the courage to seek help.

This gave me the boost I needed to talk to other people about my experiences. I found that there were others who had similar experiences of anxiety. I felt like I could slowly remove my mask and that I deserved to help myself.

Mental illness can affect anyone at anyone at any time in their lives for many different reasons, some for no reason at all. But it’s so important to remember that mental illness isn’t a choice. Comments like “but you have nothing to be sad about” or “stop worrying” can be unhelpful and increase the feeling of isolation, and make people less likely to have the confidence to open up and seek the help they need.

You don’t need to be an expert to talk about mental health and the small things can mean so much. It can be as simple as asking, “how are you?” or just meeting up with someone for a chat. I would hate for someone to suffer in silence for so long like I did and feel too scared to speak about how they were feeling. That’s why Time to talk Day is so important: the more we talk about mental health and the more conversations which will happen, the more we are doing to help stop stigma and let people know that they aren’t alone. 

My name's Rosie and I'll be talking for Surrey this Time to Talk Day, please join me and let's get the nation talking. You can also follow my personal blog if you'd like to hear more about me and my experiences. 

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.