Mental Health Awareness Day: A story from our Real Comms and Marketing Coordinator

To mark Mental Health Awareness Day our comms and marketing coordinator talks about her experience of mental health. She considers the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which is ‘Mental Health for All’.

 

My Story

I have had depression since I was 13. I got better when I was 23 but then relapsed when I was 24. It was the process of getting better that made me realise I was sick. I was like a grey fog lifted and I was like ‘oh this is what the world should feel like’. Since then I’ve been on medication, and had lots of therapy, which allows me to manage it.

My mental health journey doesn’t end there though. When I was 28 I was in a serious road incident and as a result I ended up with PTSD. I’ve experienced flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts on a regular basis. I wasn’t offered any mental health support by the hospital which feels crazy given the level of trauma I’d experienced. It just shows that we still have a way to go in our mental healthcare being as robust as our physical healthcare.

Recovery

I started out having therapy on the NHS after being on a waiting list for over 3 months. I initially signed up when I felt myself starting to relapse from depression. By the time I got it I was desperate. I had 6 sessions but then my mental health was categorised as not serious enough for my support to continue. My mental health wasn’t acute, it was low level but persistent and cast a shadow over everything I did. I was lucky to find a low-cost private service that I could afford which allowed me to continue

I also take anti-depressants. I remember being very uncertain about medication when I started it and for a while after. I remember my doctor saying to me, this won’t stop you from feeling it will just allow things like missing the bus to not totally ruin your day. When I started taking it things were bumpy for a while, but since then I’ve never looked back. Medication is something that really works for me. It also oddly has cured my fear of spiders. Not a side effect you’ll find on the box!

I think a big part of recovery was self-care. But not the self-care we so often see advertised. Sure, I like a good candle and face mask, but to me that’s luxury. My energy is quite limited because of my mobility disability. So, self-care is giving myself time to do everyday tasks that tell me I’m taking care of myself. That means making my bed, making sure I eat vegetables and not beating myself when I don’t manage to do these things.

How I view Mental Health

I view mental health as something everyone has like physical health. My mental health is sometimes bad, sometimes it’s good. Sometimes I get ill and have depression. At the moment I’m ill with PTSD. For some people I know depression can be short like a bout of cold. For others it sets in like chronic flu. That was what it was like for me. Curing it took a lot of time and investment in my health.

I know this year Mental Health Awareness Day is about mental health for all. I think people, especially young people, are getting better at talking about mental health. I think we have a long way to go before mental healthcare is accessible to everyone as it should be and when they need it.