Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people every year and no one should feel ashamed. By sharing our experiences, together we can end the stigma.

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Talking about mental health isn't attention seeking

For years I didn’t speak about my mental health issues. They began to affect me seriously when I was about 14 years old. School became challenging, I experienced bouts of paralysing depression, I developed a panic disorder and had real trouble with pretty much everything from work and relationships to food, sleep and self worth. I didn’t think I’d make it to 30. It just didn’t seem feasible. 

Education is key in order to erase mental health stigma

Having a mood disorder doesn’t make you a bad person, or someone incapable of living a full and meaningful life. I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder at the age of 25, after a long and painful process of navigating the mental health system. Since then I have had people ask me if I am violent, if I might ‘lose the plot’ and attack them, and if I am too vulnerable to do my job. I have always been open and honest about my illness, it doesn’t define me as a person and I don’t feel the need to apologise for it.

It's hard to understand anxiety, but you can still support someone

I was diagnosed with anxiety when I was 15 and it’s something I still struggle with today in my twenties. For a while now it seems like it’s all I’ve known, and a big portion of my life has been either trying to hide it or desperately trying to find people that I can open up to that will be kind and give me the support I need. I dare say I’ve found those people.

5 ways talking about mental health changed my life

People often say that a problem shared is a problem halved. Unfortunately I’ve learnt first hand that this is sometimes easier said than done when it comes to mental health. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar and Anxiety Disorder when I was 19, I spent 10 years never really talking about my mental health.

I have always been open about my diagnosis but when it came to really talking about it, discussing what it meant, how it felt and most importantly how to deal with it, that was a conversation that only ever happened internally.

To support someone, just listen without judgement

I used to be embarrassed of my anxiety, but now I embrace it. I have suffered from anxiety since I was little, but it only really started to show a few years ago. 

I found myself cancelling plans with friends, family and colleagues. I would accept an invite and then a couple of days before I would cancel and make something up. 

I started calling in sick to work more often because I didn't feel well enough to go in. Not because I had a stomach bug etc, but because my anxiety was really bad. 

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