For World Mental Health Day some truth from my head and my heart.This much I know:Mental illness does not and should not disqualify you. Do not disqualify yourself because of it. What you perceive as weakness might be the truth someone else needs to hear, or give you the perception to understand how someone else is feeling. You are not disqualified. For more: read this. You are allowed to do what you need or want to do. This is true always but especially when it comes to managing and protecting you mental health. You need to cancel an appointment,...

Last week for Mental Health Awareness Week, on Facebook and Instagram, I posted daily about my battle with anxiety and panic attacks.I have summarised these posts here. I hope they might bring comfort to you if you are struggling, and serve as a reminder that you are not alone.Part 1. RECOGNITION Growing up I never really thought about my brain. It was just there, ticking over, doing what I needed it to. As a straight-A student, education was not a problem and apart from a few (obligatory) crappy teenage years I was outgoing and popular. I was brought up to know I was loved...

Today I am delighted to welcome Tim Grayburn to the blog.Tim Grayburn is a former advertising executive turned performance artist, actor and writer. He co-wrote and performed in his debut theatre show “Fake it til You Make it’ which focused on his own experience of depression. It went on to win ‘Best Theatre’ award at Perth & Adelaide 2015 Fringe festivals. The tour continued with further success in a sold out 4 week run during the Edinburgh 2015 Fringe winning the Herald Angel ‘Best Theatre’ award. He is the author of – ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ an autobiographical tale and exploration...

I was raised on testimonies of healing. I was taught about the miraculous, Jesus healing the blind man, that meeting in South America when someone was raised from the dead, the missions in Africa where people had seen limbs re-grow and hearing restored.I thought healing was the only answer to the question of illness, because illness was always a sign something was badly wrong in your soul or heart or the world, right?I spent a long time waiting for the happy ending when I would stand and say I was now better. That my mental health was inviolable.When I would proclaim the...

I had my first panic attack at 22.Except I didn't know that was what it was called, or that it was symptomatic of the fact I was suffering with a mental illness.Mental health was not on my radar.At all.I didn't think of my brain as being healthy or unhealthy. I didn't think about it having moving or corruptible parts. It just was. It existed and enabled me to get on with life.When I did allow myself to think about these panic attacks (mostly I liked to pretend I had imagined the whole thing) I believed these aberrations were caused by...

On the 1st December I started to write an Alternative Advent Calendar. I have been posting these 'gifts' daily on Facebook and Instagram.Christmas is busy, and expectations are high. It can become stressful and overwhelming very quickly. My Advent Calendar is an antidote to this. Each day I have been writing short thoughts about ways to manage this season, ideas about how to stay sane, maintain mental health and hopefully enjoy the festive period.I am writing to remind myself. To talk truth to myself.And to remind you. To talk truth to you.Here are the first seven daysDec 1st The Gift of...

This is for you if you are in despair.I know how you feel.I have been you; terrified to leave the house, feeling I had no control over my own body.I have felt my brain was alien and unpredictable and I could no longer rely on it to tell me the truth.I know what it is like to wake in the night and be consumed with fear, able to hear my blood pumping around my body, the sound loud in my ears.I have wanted to hide, and felt shame. I have not known who I was or how to go on....

My therapist tells me that she believes it probably won't be long until there is a test, a blood test or something, that will tell what is chemically happening in your brain. To ascertain that something isn't right, some chemical or hormone isn't being released correctly or in the right amount (forgive me - I am no scientist).This would distinguish between mental illnesses that requires chemical intervention and those mental illnesses that can be alleviated by environmental changes and talking therapies, without the need for the pills.And although we shouldn't have to prove it, we shouldn't need that validation, it...