It's Mental Health Awareness Week. For me, every week is mental health awareness week because I always want to keep trying to raise awareness and get conversations going. Whether we're struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar, eating disorders, addiction or any mental illness, it is hard. Every day is hard. There can be good days and there can be bad days and it's important that we know where to get help when we need it. I suffered in silence for too long, and it almost cost me my life. I've found that by talking about my experience and sharing my story, it's helped other people to open up and know they're not alone. I want to share Three Ways to Get Help With Mental Health. I'll also be sharing some places you can read my mental health story.
If you want to talk to do something about how you are feeling then here are three ways you can get help with your mental health.
You can chat to someone on the phone, via email, through letter or by visiting them in branch. You will not be judged by the person on the other end. You don't need to be suicidal to call them. They are there to support people having a hard time. In the UK phone 116 123, all calls are free.
Mind is a brilliant mental health charity. Their website is packed full of information that is well worth reading through. They have great guides about mental illness, how to get help, talking to your GP and many more.
Talk to your GP.
Sometimes if you're really struggling it can be a good idea to discuss your options with a GP. They may advise medication or therapy services that are available in your area. It can be really hard to discuss your mental health with a GP, invite a friend to come along with you if that helps and remember that GPs are there to help.
Here are three things I wish I'd have known when I was really struggling:
- It is ok to open up and talk about it. A problem shared is a problem halved. When my anxiety or depression is really bad I get inside my head. I build things up and make myself feel worse. Simply saying out loud how I was feeling to a friend was a life saver. It made it real. It got the bully out of my head and out into the open. I always imagined the negative thoughts in my head to be a bit like a monster. Like a bully that liked to hide in the dark corners of my brain, but it was a bully who shrunk more and more when I talked about it.
- You are not alone. You may feel crushingly alone, but you are not alone. You have people who care about you. You have people who want you around. You have people who will notice if you're not there. You have people who love you.
- You are not a burden and you are allowed to feel how you feel. You don't have to have a big problem in your life to be depressed. You don't have to have had a "valid reason" for your anxiety. These things happen sometimes for no reason. Just because there are other people in the world that are worse off than you doesn't mean you can't ask for help with your struggle.
Maybe you are concerned about a friend? Let them know you are there for them. Let them know they can open up. It doesn't always have to be about that friend reaching out, as often times, this won't happen. You can also reach in and be there for them.
I'm also running 75 miles this month (although it is looking a bit more like 100) as part of runr's #MilesForMind to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity. You can donate here, on my JustGiving page, and all money will go to Mind, who are doing some great things for mental health.