*This is a sponsored post. However all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Before I even knew it was Mental Health Awareness week I had been planning to sit down and write a post about anxiety. More specifically my personal journey with health anxiety (let me tell you…having health anxiety in the middle of a global pandemic is a fun old time) and then.
Well then I had a huge panic attack.
And suddenly I didn’t really feel like writing my tips on how to deal with anxiety anymore.
But actually as I sat back and thought about it; when I thought about how important it is to talk about these mental health I thought I’d go a slightly different way. I will, eventually, get round to writing a topic about my tips for dealing with anxiety, the things I have found work and the things that I still struggle with but more importantly I want to talk about the stuff we don’t talk about. Those health topics which just make us feel a little uncomfortable. Topics which sometimes are so taboo that they can actually prevent people from getting treatment.
Obviously the first one has to be mental health. The strides that we have made to make it more acceptable to talk about mental health is huge but it’s still not enough. Anxiety is more than just worrying. Depression is more than just feeling a bit sad or low. Recent research by WHO actually suggests that more than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. A staggering number for something which people still feel awkward discussing openly.
In fact a friend of mine recently openly shared about her journey with mental health, and reaching out to receive some help, and as a result lost a ton of followers on social media. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea for sure but this just goes to show how much of a taboo topic it can still be to some.
I have suffered with health anxiety since 2014 but it’s really only in recent months that I’ve felt about to talk about it more freely on my social media and I am always astonished at the number of people who reach out to me and say me too and there’s no-one else I can talk to about this. There’s almost this weird pride thing where we don’t always feel able to be honest about how we are feeling. So when someone says ‘are you okay?’ we answer ‘yes, fine. Absolutely fine.’ Even when that might not be the case.
Self-care, and looking after our mental health is so important and part of that is being able to freely talk about it with family, friends and even work colleagues. Mental Health is not something that we need to be ashamed about. I hope one day it won’t need to appear on a list like this!
What is it about discussing women’s health that makes us so uncomfortable? I was really pleased to recently see the influencer Zoella attempting to normalise women’s health issues by documenting going for a smear test; something which can literally save lives and yet is still something we are funny about discussing openly.
Taking care of your health, receiving proper and regular check ups is such an important thing and shouldn’t be something we are embarrassed to openly discuss, after all, so many of us do it! The same goes for topics such as menstruation, bladder incontinence (something you may experience after giving birth. Avoid those garden trampolines mamas) and even post-partum depression. All things which affect many, many people and yet something we sometimes feel we can’t openly discuss.
Despite this being connected with women’s health I wanted to give miscarriage its own section because it has to be one of the most taboo topics out there and yet it is one which affects so many people. 1 in 4 women in fact. And it can be so emotionally devastating, not to mention incredibly isolating.
A mis-managed, traumatic miscarriage is actually what triggered my health anxiety in 2014 so it’s something which is particularly close to my heart. We made the decision to be extremely open about the fact that we’d had a miscarriage but the sheer number of people who didn’t like to discuss it with us, or pulled away as we walked through our grief was…well, it was a lot of people.
It may not be surprising then to learn that the experience of miscarriage, and the fact it is not something we often openly discuss can lead to lack of processing and mental health issues. That is certainly my own experience despite the fact that we tried to be as honest and open as we could about what we had been through.
Although this post may have made you uncomfortable, I hope it may also have helped you to gain a better understanding of why we need to talk about these things. Each of the three I have chosen could be explored in so much more detail but I just wanted to take the time to briefly highlight them, especially as it is Mental Health Week.
Have you any experience of the above topics? I’d love to hear some insight from you.