May is mental health awareness month. A time to share experiences and challenge stigma.And one thing you are sure to hear is someone to say: it is time to talk.Being vulnerable about your mental health can be beneficial and aid recovery, but to be brave and start a conversation often feels impossible.It did for me.My diagnosis with post-natal depression and anxiety took me by surprise. I didn't know what it meant. I felt ashamed and afraid of how others would react.Better to deal with this in private and keep my friends, than be honest and risk losing them, I thought.But...

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. I was exercising at home and for no obvious reason, maybe I wasn't fully paying attention, maybe I was being a little gung-ho, I went over on my ankle and fell to the ground. As I fell I heard a loud snapping sound, turning my stomach and convincing me it was broken. I shouted, a lot and loudly. Then I tentatively undid my trainer, eased my foot out and removed my sock. I watched, with fascination as my ankle doubled in size before my eyes.I was in pain and I was angry. This was...

Last week I was tired. A combination of over-work, broken nights and an increase in the emotional needs of the kids had worn me out.I was physically tired, but more than that I was emotionally and mentally tired. My body and brain had been operating at more than full capacity for a while and I needed a break.There are times we have to over-exert ourselves; a busy patch at work, a friend or loved one falls ill and needs caring for, a house move or other circumstantial change. There are seasons when we all have to dig deep and work...

I was out and about somewhere this week, I forget where, and I could hear a toddler whining.The child wasn't very upset, but were obviously struggling to get their point across, to let the parent who was with them know exactly what they wanted. I then heard the Mum who was with this little boy, who must have been about two and a half, say a phrase I have said myself many times. She said,"Use your words."She wanted her son to stop his whining and tell her what it was that was upsetting him, or what it was he wanted....

In the morning when you wake the dread is already on your shoulder. You feel the panic rising and swallow hard to stop it. It all feels too much.  You pull up your big girl pants and give yourself the pep-talk you have well-rehearsed about just getting on, just doing it, not quitting, not stopping.Throughout the day you struggle to make decisions. You find yourself rushing from one thing to another, worrying about what won't get done. Your breath catches in your chest. You feel you are always dropping the ball. The other shoe is about to fall. You are...

I find change hard. I like familiarity and routine. I like tradition and rituals. These are the things that help me to orient myself in the world. To make sense of life's unpredictable moments.But if we know one thing we know change is the only constant. The only thing we can be sure will follow us.Sometimes life changes and we have no choice but to accept it even though it is devastating; we experience tragedy and have to learn to live with it.We lose a loved one, a friend moves away, we are ill, our job role changes, we experience...

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,...

You have permission to make a changeI am giving it to you.Not that you need me to.You were already allowed.If something is not how you want it to be, if you are not getting what you need, if something else would make you happier, you are allowed to change it. You are allowed to try something else. You are allowed to quit, or have a go, or say no this time even though you have always said yes.You have permission to make a change.Life is big and busy and full and it can feel easier to stick with the status...

Recently I asked my email list* what they were struggling with.I don't have all the answers but I want to know my readers better and write about the things that are on their hearts.I was overwhelmed by the response and felt so privileged that so many took the time to share their stories with me.There were a few themes that emerged, common threads between the responses. So often we think the things that make us feel ashamed or scared separate us from everyone else, when actually it is these struggles that unite us. If only we knew how like each other...

I experienced my first panic attack in my car while attempting a three point turn in the road outside my parents' house. I was 22.One minute I was turning the steering wheel, focused on the manoeuvre, the next I was sweating with fear. My mind raced through a theatre performance I had recently seen, the most devastating moment playing over and over again on the screen of my mind. My body reacted as though this performance was not just real, but was a part of me. I was the dying man collapsing on the ground, I was the one losing...