Since I’ve been more open with my mental health, I’ve had so many wonderful messages and emails from plenty of you thanking me for being so honest. While it’s nothing new – and there are so many mental health advocates out there – it can be hard to find others with similar experiences to you.
My most recent wave of messages has been after I appeared on Metro UK’s podcast, Mentally Yours. I was invited by hosts Yvette Caster and Ellen Scott to talk about my experiences with health anxiety and how it has affected my life. I also touched on my experiences with cognitive behavioural therapy (you can listen here via their website, or download here on iTunes).
It was so refreshing to talk about my experiences, especially in a space where I felt like I wasn’t being judged. But I wasn’t anticipating so many of you emailing me and messaging me.
After all, when you’re stuck in your anxious bubble, you often feel as though no one else in the world can understand how you’re feeling.
‘You might as well have been talking about my life word for word,’ one woman wrote to me. While another said: ‘Thank you again for choosing to speak out about your experience and making me realise that I’m not the only person to have struggled with health anxiety.’
While being open about your mental health can be scary – especially when you’re worried about the repercussions (job opportunities, what your friends and family will think etc.) – doing it may just help someone else seriously in need.
My messages have been varied. Some have just wanted to share their struggles, their experiences and worries, while others have wanted more info on my CBT therapy sessions.
But more than anything, I’ve realised that a lot of people that got in touch just wanted to not feel alone anymore…
And I totally get that. When I began researching health anxiety I really struggled to find voices that I could relate to. Firstly, I’m young, and a lot of first person pieces about HA were women or men in their forties with experiences I just couldn’t relate to.
Other people had HA alongside severe depression, or another mental health disorder that I couldn’t relate to. And some, I just felt didn’t tell me the whole story. They spoke about their therapy, and their doctor’s visits in a very clinical way, but they didn’t talk about the subject of HA behind closed doors: the panic attacks, the obsessive checking, the late night Googling.
So I’ve decided to more honest, with zero f**ks given to the repercussions of my honesty. Because after all, honesty is the best policy and I feel so much healthier knowing that a.) I’m not lying about myself, b.) I’m not keeping things all locked up and c.) I might actually help other people who are struggling too.
And if you have anxiety, or another mental health disorder but totally cannot relate to what I’m talking about – no fear! There are plenty of people out there with powerful voices, interesting stories and someone who you’ll definitely be able to relate to.
Please do start with the aforementioned Mentally Yours podcast. I’ve already redirected a few people to different episodes – each with a new voice, and a different mental health issue.
And remember, it’s OK TO TALK ABOUT IT. In fact, it’s better than OK… it’s essential that you talk about it. Whether that’s with your GP, trusted friends or family, your therapist, or a mental health advocate who is totally open about their experiences. There is someone, and you’re never alone.
Main photo by JOHN TOWNER