I know I might be a little late to the scene but I’ve recently got into podcasts. I know. Where have I been?! But as a fan of Bryony Gordon and her fab Mad World series, not to mention hilarious Instagram stories. I was pretty excited to hear she’s launched a podcast series about mental health. And even more excited when I realised the first guest was none other than Prince Harry talking about mental health. I mean, it’s Prince Harry! Talking about mental health and how it’s OK to not be fine. How it’s OK to ask for help. And to talk to people about how you feel.
And it really struck a nerve with me. Because it should be normal to talk about you feel right? I mean we constantly ask each other ‘how are you’? And all too often we reply with a standard ‘I’m fine’. Because that’s easier than speaking the truth. It’s easier to say I’m fine then have to explain why you’re not fine. How you’re not feeling yourself. How you find yourself feeling down and constantly on the verge of tears. For what feels like no apparent reason.
And if someone as high profile and as likable as Prince Harry can talk about his emotions. And his mental health. Then I think the rest of us can. Can’t we? I haven’t really shared this before. But once of the reasons I’m so passionate about mental health is because of my own experiences. My experience of suddenly going through something that triggered a period where I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t necessarily feel constantly sad. But I didn’t feel happy either. In fact I just felt numb. As if someone had turned the dimmer down on me. I didn’t care about a lot of things. I didn’t have the passion or motivation to do half the things I would normally do.
And I stopped taking care of my appearance. Stopped going to the gym. Stopped seeing people. In fact, given the chance I would have stayed in bed all day if I could. And I didn’t tell anyone. I was too ashamed of how I felt to confide in anyone around me with what was happening to me. Maybe it’s because I felt like a failure. Or maybe I thought I would get through it on my own. But one thing I do know is that not talking about how you feel. Doesn’t make you feel better. No one will feel better by not talking about their feelings.
And all it took was for me to be fed up of having to pretend to be OK. And the next time someone asked how I was. I replied honestly. I told them I wasn’t OK. That there was so many things going on my life that were causing me to not feel like myself. I felt anxious. Overwhelmed. Useless. So many different emotions. But none of them felt like me. And it’s amazing how much better I felt by telling someone this. How letting them in on the thoughts in my head suddenly made the weight I was carrying around lighter.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt like that. And there have been a bunch of techniques I’ve picked up since to help me cope. I now exercise more than I used to. Exercise for me is as much of a mental workout as it is a physical one. It’s a form of escapism that pushes my body to the limits. And it makes me feel so much better. But none of this would have been possible unless I spoke out. It was only by speaking out that I realised I wasn’t alone in feeling like this. And with 1 in 4 people suffering with mental health issues. Chances are if you don’t suffer yourself. You’ll know someone who does.
Which is why I love what Bryony Gordon is doing with her Mad World series and what Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are doing with Heads Together. By normalising the conversation about mental health. We’re removing the stigma, the shame and helping people cope with their emotions. It would just produce a healthier and happier country. And isn’t that what we want?
What do you think about mental health and the work people are doing to normalise the conversation?
As always thank you to Kaye for taking these pictures!