Monday, 10 October 2016

World Mental Health Day #WMHD16

Today is World Mental Health day, we all have mental health and well being just as much as we all have physical health. There's a good chance that you reading this blog, will know someone who has struggled with their mental health at some point in their lifetime, either you yourself, a relative or a loved one. Mental health affects up to 1 in 4 of us at some point, so it's so important that as much awareness is raised to help remove stigma and discrimination.

This week also comes to the year when it is dyspraxia awareness week and the theme is dyspraxia in the workplace, in my blogs I regularly talk about the links between dyspraxia and mental health. I don't want to repeat myself and say what I have in previous blogs but as it is something very close to my heart it is something which needs to be taken more seriously and something I previously blogged about for Time to Change.

 With many dyspraxics struggling with mental health issues it's so important that there is access to emotional support and not just the physical side of things. Little reasonable adjustments can mean a lot and often free to support someone with their mental health in the workplace, little things such as: giving someone a little bit of structure to help with unpredictability and the unknown, giving someone time to adjust into an environment and letting someone go at their own speed, understanding the need for taking time out to get a little bit of space or fresh air if someone struggles with anxiety attacks or being overwhelmed. Everyone is different and different things work or help people differently. Most importantly I think is to remember someone is a person, and focus on what someone is good at we can all do our best to help build someone up and give them a confidence boost.

I think that is something which is really important when it comes to mental health that everyone is different, when I tell people I struggle with bad anxiety and can go through periods where it can be quite crippling and lead to low mood, I often get a look of shock that I don't look like someone who could have anxiety, mainly given by the amount of awareness work I do to help others and from a young age I've always been a determined soul. But helping others who are struggling and making a difference, gives you that little bit of reassurance to  be determined to step out of your comfort zone as you hope it will educate others.

In quite a few of my blogs I talk about how social anxiety has made me a very good hider, it takes me a long time to come out of my shell and have the confidence to talk to people. I remember at school having the most hacking awful cough and trying to swallow my coughs so that it wouldn't draw any attention to myself.  When you experience bullying and/or ignorance it can make you retreat into your shell and find it difficult to trust others, and my experiences of bullying especially in the workplace have had quite a negative impact on my mental health.

 But when I'm going through a difficult time with my mental health speaking to people who can empathise, reassure and understand means so much to me. Anxiety can something very scary to get your head around, understanding unpleasant physical symptoms, different triggers and feel like you have an anchor holding you down sucking everything out of you on top of not being very kind to yourself. When you add dyspraxia into the mix, the chaos can make you feel like your head is full of tangled spaghetti.

It can make you feel isolated and alone, but there are people who understand, for many years I hid how much I struggled with anxiety, and hid my dyspraxia, I was scared opening up would lead to further bullying and people would run a mile from me, but hiding made me feel lower, this is something which I have written more about in a blog for Scope for their #endtheawkward appeal this year which will hopefully be out soon. But by speaking to others it's given me the courage to seek help and I'm so grateful to those who have been there for me.  You never know who might be affected by mental health, always remember to be kind, but most importantly be kind to yourself.



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