This post has been years in the making, and I attempted to start writing it a few months ago. I finally feel ready to write about my own mental health story and to share it with others in order to try and help and to let you know that you are not alone.
Writing this post has definitely not been without a lot of thought and deliberation about whether I wanted to write about my mental health and how I was going to go about it. It was back in 2017 when Ollie and I were discussing the fact that it was Mental Health Awareness Week, and that I was thinking of writing a post on the subject, but I just didn’t feel totally ready to share my story then. Ollie simply said to me ‘I believe in you’. Those four little words meant so much to me on a day where I felt like everything was crashing down around me. I knew after hearing those words I’d eventually be able to write this post one day.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety for some years. I hadn’t realised it was depression and anxiety until I spoke to my Mum about the different things I was feeling which had continued for years on end. I felt as if there was a murky cloud surrounding my daily life and I felt incredibly low. I had no motivation or desire to do anything and anyone who knows me, knows that this is not like me at all. So deep down I knew something wasn’t quite right but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but speaking out to my Mum was the first point I realised that it was time to talk to a doctor about the way I was feeling.
The doctor diagnosed me with depression and anxiety back in 2013. I spoke to my doctor in confidence about how I was feeling and he prescribed me anti-depressants, I have been on them ever since. At the end of 2016 I tried to come off of them, only to realise after feeling incredible low again and then discussing my feelings with family and loved ones that there is no shame in taking anti-depressants and went back to taking them at the start of 2017. You would take pain-killers if you had a headache or migraine so why should taking anti-depressants for a chemical imbalance in my brain be any different.
When I have had bouts of depression it’s as if alarm bells are ringing and you know that you are headed in a downward spiral but there’s nothing you can do to stop it as you feel yourself becoming consumed by numbness, as well as feeling like everything was happening all at once with no way of controlling it. The antidepressants I take have kept my depression at arms length and I know I would like to keep it that way. I deal with anxiety on a far more regular basis and I am planning to talk to a doctor about trying to address this in another way than just the pills. After starting to read Matt Haig’s ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’ last week I realise I definitely have a chaotic feeling when I feel anxious, always thinking of the worst case scenario in situations, each of those having several versions of different outcomes. Just reading his words on a page and being able to connect with them on such a personal level has given me a push to finally write all of this down to share with others.
Social media can often send me into spells of anxiety but I have started to learn and recognise these. I now choose to take some time away from being online, and disconnecting and being present with what is going on right now is so important for making me feel like me. There’s no harm in taking some time off from social media and it isn’t for everyone. If twitter drives you insane or Facebook is the cause of endless low feelings and insecurities, then you can decide to stop using it. Replacing it and making real connections with friends instead will make you feel so much better mentally in the long run. I removed the Facebook app from my phone last year and it was if an invisible weight was lifted from my shoulders. I don’t have to endlessly and mindlessly scroll through the newsfeed because it has become habit. People who I haven’t spoken to for years no longer get on my nerves (I also removed anyone who I felt was having a negative impact on me, you can now also mute people on Facebook and twitter if unfriending them is too much).
You are not alone and the best thing for both my depression and anxiety is speaking to someone about it. I’m very lucky to have a close support network around me. You may feel judged trying to speak out to someone about the way that you’re feeling but it will be such a relieving feeling when you decide to open up about it. Below I am going to list people, books and resources that have helped me with my mental health.
Matt Haig – His book ‘Reasons to stay Alive’ was recommended to me by Ella Masters back in 2016 and it is one of the most helpful books that I have ever read relating to mental health. As mentioned above I’m currently reading his newest book ‘Notes on a nervous planet’ and am already finding it helpful and relatable after just reading chapter one.
Lindsey Holland – Reset Series on Youtube. This is a really wonderful video series where Lindsey discusses her own mental health issues along with products and items that have helped her personally with improving her own mental health.
Megan – Wonderful You – After reading this post (The face of depression) back in 2017 when I originally thought I was ready to share my own mental health story to try and help others. I thought Megan was so brave and courageous for sharing her story and I admire the amazing content she creates whilst raising awareness for mental health. I’ve also linked to all of Megan’s Self Care related posts here.
Ali Helmsley – I first came across Ali’s blog post about her own mental health and have since been following her on instagram and I love how she’s been raising awareness for mental health and her take on it.
Laura Jane Williams – Laura’s book ‘Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast’ discusses mental health issues she herself has dealt with and reminded me to look out for the little things in life to make you happy. Acting a little more child-like can improve your mood massively. You need to read this book if you haven’t already.
I really hope that by writing this I can encourage even just one person to open up about their own mental health and for them to make a positive change within their life. I will link some resources from NHS regarding helplines for mental health but if you’d like to message me directly then please do I would be happy to help in anyway that I can. Sometimes it can feel as if your in a constant battle to just get up in the morning or get through the day but just know that it can and will get better. I believe in each and every one of you.
Photos of me were all taken by the incredible Ollie at Kenwood House Gardens earlier this year.
Good for you Amber, this is a lovely post & will be very helpful & comforting to anyone reading it who is going through the same as you. Depression, as you say, it is more often caused by a chemical imbalance & srtikes indiscriminately causing devistation in its wake, but is helped massively by talking openly about it & sharing our feeling with others, all the while remembering that things will get better in time. Sending love, hugs & warmest best wishes for continued progress Xxx
Mental health awareness is a serious problem. I wish people knew how hard it was to get through mental health issues. Staying positive isn’t always easy when people don’t understand, but there are ways to effectively deal with difficult people. I’m really proud that you’ve started to open up, keep up the great work.