It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, y’all!
Or as I like to call it: M-HAW.
Not really. That’s a terrible acronym.
Anywho, to kick off the week, GLAMOUR magazine asked me to write a feature for their international site.
So, naturally, I said yes. In a very calm and measured email. When I was actually fist-pumping and skipping around the office, squealing “OMG OMG! GLAMOUR MAG WANTS ME! GLAMOUR MAG WANTS ME!”
While it’s been edited quite a bit, I feel it still captures my voice. And my experience dealing with anxiety and a panic attack that nearly killed me.
I hope it helps shed light on anxiety and mental health. And empowers you to make friends with your anxiety.
What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
M-HAW (nope, still sounds awful) is all about making the world more aware about mental health.
This year’s angle is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’
Here’s how the Mental Health Foundation sums up this year’s event:
“We all have mental health. Good mental health is an asset that helps us to thrive. This is not just the absence of a mental health problem, but having the ability to think, feel and act in a way that allows us to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents. Yet it can be easy to assume that ongoing stress is the price we have to pay to keep our lives on track. It is time to challenge that assumption.“
But surely mental illness isn’t that common?
Sadly, it is.
Here are some sobering facts:
- Only 13% of people say they have ‘good’ mental health
- 25% of people have had a panic attack
- 4 in 10 people have experienced depression
Things have to change. And thankfully, there are some amazing organisations like the Mental Health Foundation getting good things done. Raising awareness. Changing the tide.
Can we ever be 100% mentally well?
I’m a dreamy idealist and eternal optimist. So I hope one day we can turn those stats around.
But just as we have to keep working on our physical health to ward off illness and disease, we have to nurture our mind too. We have to put ‘good mental health’ to the top of our to-do list.
That being said, I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally anxiety-free. Or shake off the last little dregs of depression. It lingers.
So instead of ignoring it, or fighting it, or trying to cure it, I’m trying to take things a little slower. Be a little kinder. And make friends with my anxiety, rather than seeing it as a beastly enemy that wants to ruin my life.
So, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. And I’m still anxious.
But I’m AWARE. And I CARE. And I’m SHARING. And I’m here to support you, in whatever way you need.
And that’s what this life is all about.