• Emily Elizabeth May

Mental Health Awareness | Breaking the Taboo

Updated: Oct 26, 2018

After just 24 hours of having my blog online, I had several messages from people telling me that they could relate to my first post and that they also wanted to ‘make a choice’ to take charge of their lives. Having this feedback from friends and readers was one of the main reasons I began the blog in the first place. To show others out there that so many of us suffer from mental health problems and that we don’t need to suffer in silence.
Sometimes when you are going through something terrible, or you are having distressing thoughts and worries it is often hard to see that other people have these similar problems too. When I went to my first group anxiety workshop, I remember messaging my boyfriend before and saying something along the lines of…

“I am going, but I am not saying a word! I swear to you, I am not opening my mouth!”


NEXT MINUTE …

I’m 15 minutes into my first workshop, listening to other people speak about their anxiety, their stresses and their worries, and I’m finding I’m not only nodding in agreement, but I’m basically shouting out “here, here” when I can relate to their stories. So quickly there was a buzz in the room when everyone realised we were all there for the same reason.

In my head I laughed about the lie I told my boyfriend before going into the workshop, and I raised my hand in the group, feeling nervous but liberated. The leader acknowledged me and asked what I had to say. The first thing I said in my group therapy session was:

“I am so happy to hear that people have the same problems as me!”
… a strange thing to be “happy” about… but a very true statement indeed. I instantly received an agreement from the room. After that point, you really couldn’t shut me up if you tried! I had always thought group therapy was a way for the NHS to “bulk treat” their patients, but now I had a better understanding of why it is so beneficial. I realised why I was there in a group, and not just a one-on-one session.

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. In a way, I can see Mental Health Awareness Week as being a big group therapy session for the whole of Britain! People are sharing their stories, experiences and solutions. And others are listening, relating and understanding that they are not alone.
This is one of my best friends Lily. We both suffer from anxiety. We’ve helped each other over the years by sharing our stories and supporting each other. Lily has recently shared her story on her Instagram and admits that speaking openly about it has lifted a weight off her shoulders – You can find her on Instagram here @lilyamberosborne

Breaking The Mental Health Taboo

In the past mental health has been seen as a sign of weakness. I believe society is now slowly beginning to move away from the stigma associated with mental health. I think that my generation is one that feels more comfortable talking openly about our emotions. We still have a long way to go, but we are on our way. That is why it is so important for us all to keep talking about it, long after Mental Health Awareness Week is over.
Bringing awareness to mental health is about educating the public about the reality that mental health affects all of us, indirectly or directly. Education on mental health will help guide us all to focus on connecting with people as individuals and not a diagnosis. The stigma of mental health won’t go away unless we talk about it! Hearing others speak in my group therapy session made me realise this is a part of me, and that’s okay.

It’s okay to not be okay

It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to talk about your problems, it’s okay to not be okay. There is no weakness in seeking help if you need it. Wonderful things can happen to you once you understand your own condition. Living a life where you have mastered your mental health can be a completely different life to the one you lived before. Having the ability to speak to someone really makes a difference.
Talking openly about mental health is the only way we can break the taboo. So keep it up! Share your feelings, open up to those closest to you, and don’t be afraid, we are in this together.

xx Emily

Email me anytime if you want to chat: contact@emilyelizabethmay.com

Mental health services are free to access on the NHS. Make an appointment with your GP and ask for a referral.

Self-referral is available for some services. Follow this link to find services nearest to you. (The right column will indicate if self-referral is available).

samaritins.org is also a great website. You can call them for free, at any time, to talk about anything on 116 123 (UK)

Emily Elizabeth May

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Emily Elizabeth May

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