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Monday, October 10, 2016

Mental Health Awareness Day - My Story

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Day, I really want to talk on this very important topic that is actually very dear to my heart. Just a quick back ground on Mental Health Awareness Day, it is held on the 10th October every year and each year is a different theme, this years theme is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress. Find out more about it here. 

Funny enough, I've been wanting to share a post like this for a very long time but I'm not the best at writing and I didn't know how I could put it across in a way that people would understand what I was saying.. but there's something about this day that has inspired me to just sit here and simply write. Coming from an African background, things such as mental health aren't looked at as something serious. "You feel down? It doesn't matter, you'll get over it." Is how a lot.. not all but a lot of African parents would look at it; even though there could be something much deeper to it. I feel lucky enough to have been raised in an environment where mental health is actually talked about and over the years there has been more awareness raised and I feel like there will only be more awareness and help given to those suffering with this. I know a lot of people still look down on mental illness as if it's nothing serious to talk about but like a lot of people today I want to raise awareness at just how serious this is and how much people suffering with this need support. 

So how has mental health affected me?
One thing I've always struggled with is anxiety and for sometime I also went through depression. It was the year of 2014 where a lot was going.. wrong in my life. I won't get into too much detail about it but things just weren't going well and my mind just took me into this dark place where I felt I wouldn't get out of. Mid 2014 is when I experienced my first panic attack, I had no idea that was happening to me at that moment because around that time is when I fell quite ill, nothing too serious but because of this, it's what I thought was linked to what was making me ill. It's only when we went to the minor injuries unit and spoke to a doctor, that we were informed that I had a panic attack. I couldn't believe it, I never really understood what a panic attack was, how it happened or how it felt so to hear that it was what I experienced really opened my eyes. I remember going home and doing my research on panic attacks and the word 'anxiety' is what stood out the most to me as this was a word I heard so much about but also never knew exactly what it was. Yes, I was very ignorant to it all and after doing my research, I actually found out a lot and as expected, I had the symptoms. It all made sense, all the times I'd start over thinking things or stop myself doing something as simple as walking into a room of people, I was simply anxious.. but it wasn't that 'simple' at all. 

How did I begin to tackle my anxiety and depression?
After establishing that I suffered from anxiety, I now had to tackle my depression. I knew it was right for me to find ways to get out of it but I didn't know how.. correction, I knew how, I just wouldn't allow myself to get the help I needed. My mum has this funny way of knowing when I'm not okay, it probably is just a mothers intuition but even when I thought I hadn't made it obvious.. she just knew when something was up. She really did her best to get me to open up, her support helped me so much and honestly, it was that constant support from her and my boyfriend specifically who helped me get through it all. They were the only ones who knew what was really going on at the time. Regardless of just knowing what was going on, one of my cousins and my older brother were also a big help. Their words of wisdom made me see so much and I've always been someone who gets very inspired and uplifted by powerful words from people so I must stress that this was a huge part in helping me. Another thing that helped me tackle this was time.. it's really true what they say about time being the best healer, that doesn't just apply to break ups you know lol. Overcoming anxiety or depression is a process, once you acknowledge that it will take time to deal with, the process becomes a lot easier. One last thing.. books! Reading self motivational books also helped, because of this I learnt to add more positivity to my life but I'll get into that on another post. 

Do I still suffer from anxiety and depression?
Thankfully, I'm no longer depressed, although I do still struggle with my down days which can sometimes turn into weeks of feeling low and just unhappy with things but this has become much easier to deal with. I definitely still deal with my anxiety though, I'd be lying if I said I've completely over come this, it's still a battle for me to not let my anxiety stop me from doing things or get me back in that dark place but again, it's become a lot easier to deal with. I actually have a vision board in my room where I write positive quotes to help me, I can't tell you how much being positive has helped me to over come my anxiety at times and I would encourage anyone dealing with this to look at bringing more positivity into your life.

Any advice?

  • Take each day as it comes. Don't worry so much about tomorrow when you still have time to change it. 
  • Surround yourself with people who will support you through those difficult times.
  • Start training your mind to get out of that dark place. Support from others really helps with this, also I mentioned reading books on positivity, that was such a big help for me. 
  • Confine in someone, it's so important that you talk to someone about what's going on. I know this is a tough one because it would be a lot easier to keep it all to yourself but that only does more damage. If you're not comfortable talking to a family member or friend then there are so many organisations that can help with this and their so easy to find. 
  • Give yourself credit! You know the battle you deal with each and every day and guess what.. you're still here. Acknowledge how far you've come in your journey and just how strong you are.

Final point..
I understand that dealing with mental health is so much easier said than done but I want anyone who is currently going through any form of mental health to know that you're not alone. There is always someone who can help. I have friends and family members who have struggled with some form of mental health and got that support they needed, I've seen what help from others can do and how much they've overcome these issues. I just want the same for anyone dealing with this. I hope that for anyone else who may feel like they didn't know enough about mental illness will be slightly informed after reading this and for those who may not have seen it is as something serious, don't wait for it to affect you first in order to take it serious. 

Remember.. "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, be kind." 

Love Sham x



  1. So glad you decided to address this issue. I too am from an African home and I understand what you mean. Africans don't really look at mental illness as a problem and that's really sad, I want to believe that it's because of the lack of education on subject but I could be wrong. Thanks for sharing your story I can totally relate to this because I was depressed for a couple of years and I also had severe anxiety about my skin color and I use to have panic attacks. It feels good to know I'm not the only person that have gone through this. This was really inspirational thank you.

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked the post, I hope your anxiety has become easier to deal with.. I know is not easy but it gets better x

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