Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Guest Post #13 - Mental Health Awareness Month - by Nicola Ann @NicolaAnne84

1) How old were you when you began to experience symptoms of mental illness?

I guess I was in my mid to late teens, though I didn’t realise I was experiencing mental health issues. There wasn’t a lot of information about mental health. I’d heard of depression but never understood much outside of the basics of that. 

2) Did you have support and seek treatment immediately? If not, why?

No, and even when I did seek medical help I was in denial. I refused to believe that I could be that pathetic and weak. Again, I didn’t understand what mental health is. I thought it was a sign of weakness. 

3) What would you tell your younger self knowing what you know now about mental illness?

Listen to the Doctors. Take the steps to help yourself. This won’t get better by itself. You aren’t weak at all, you’ve just been strong for too long and you deserve this help. You deserve to feel good. 

4) What do you think are the biggest misconceptions those with mental illness have to face?

That we’re weak, pathetic, damaged people who deserve pity and to be handled with care. Or we should be completely ignored and told to “get over it.”

5) How do you feel about the stigma surrounding mental illness? Do you feel we’ve taken positive steps? In your opinion, what needs to be done in the future?

I feel that with every step and development we’ve made through history the progression has been slow but we ultimately get there. With people speaking openly about their experiences with mental health and the realities of what it can mean others are becoming more educated. There are a lifetime of stereotypes and misconceptions to change. That change is happening. We see it all over social media. The days of the Asylum are over and mental health is not a thing to be locked away, to shun and fear that it is contagious. It is a modern day reality that we are all learning to be aware of in our own individual lives. Awareness through education is the best way to dissolve ignorance. 

6) What do you do to get through the bad days?

I remind myself, as best I can, that this is just one moment out of millions of  better moments. Depending on what I’m struggling with that day, in regards to my mental health, very much depends on how I try to deal with it. When you suffer with two different mental health disorders that feed each other, but require different treatments, it can be very difficult to implement the coping strategies needed to placate them. For example; Anxiety and Depression. These guys feed each other until you are in a cycle you can’t get out of. 

Things to help treat anxiety:
  • relax
  • Mindfulness/meditation 
  • Being kind to yourself
  • Sit and chill out

Things that can exacerbate anxiety:
  • being busy
  • Socialising
  • Getting out and about

Things to help treat depression:
  • getting out and about
  • Socialising
  • Being busy

Things that can exacerbate depression:
  • Chilling out
  • Relaxing
  • Sitting down and not doing much. 

It’s a fine balance. Everyday is a struggle. 

7) Do you have any projects that you’re working on that could benefit the mental health community?

I joined the Maternal Mental Health Change Agents. They support, educate and bring awareness around maternal mental health issues. Things like Perinatal mood disorders, Post-Natal Depression and Post-Natal Psychoisis. They work throughout Scotland.  They are a very positive, motivated group of women who will change the world. 

I have not been as active as I would like to be. With three young children and my own mental health struggles to deal with at the moment I am hoping to have a more active role in the future. 

8) Please give us some of your social media screen names in case someone wants to get a hold of you.

I am on Twitter @NicolaAnne84. I also write a Mummy blog about my life and my struggles being a Mum. The realities and hardships of being a Mum. It’s called ‘Onwards, Upwards and Slightly to the Left’ at

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