Mental Health Awareness Week | Part One

12 May 2015

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a week where anyone and everyone can help raise awareness of mental health. The 15th Mental Health Awareness Week, which originally started back in 2000, it is a week where public knowledge can be increased, creating debates around mental health, opening up the discussion for positive progression and ultimately helping to reduce the stigma by educating others on mental health. This year the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is mindfulness. To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week and why mindfulness has been chosen as this year's theme, head over to the Mental Health Foundation website.

Mental Health is a topic close to my heart and a topic I regularly discuss here on Tattooed Tealady. Over the years of writing this blog I have shared my own experiences of mental health as well as starting my Psych Bites series in 2015. Raising awareness of mental health is very important to me, something I discuss in the hopes of reducing stigma associated with mental health. This week I wanted to open up the space for other bloggers to share their stories, and so this is the first of two posts which will be going live on Tattooed Tealady for Mental Health Awareness Week, where bloggers of all niches will be sharing their experiences. A huge thank you for those taking part in this two part series!

For part one I asked the girls four questions; how old they are and what their profession is, what their experience with mental health is, how their experiences with mental health have affected their everyday life and why Mental Health Awareness Week is important to them; I wanted to show how mental health really can affect anyone of any age and lifestyle.

TRIGGER WARNING: This post may include sensitive language and information regarding mental health. If this could be difficult for you to read, please read on with caution. 
I'm Becky, I'm 26 and I'm a primary school teacher.

I have been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder (GAD) and dermatillomania, which I have lived with for 15 years. I am currently on Citalopram and undertaking Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). 

My experience with mental health has hugely affected my day-to-day life. I often cannot work which, being in such a high-pressured profession, just makes me even more stressed. When my anxiety gets really bad, I can't leave the house or do anything for myself so I rely very heavily on my husband.

I still find that there are people who don't understand mental health. It's definitely not treated with the same respect as physical health problems and mental health awareness week is important to change the perceptions of people.

Check out Becky's blog here, and follow her on Twitter @BeckyBedbug
Hello lovely readers of Tattooed Tealady! I am Charlotte, a 21 year old Communications Assistant from Southampton with a passion for all things beauty and theatre. I run a lifestyle blog here on the interweb where I love to share my latest beauty finds and fashion steals. 

I have always been an anxious child and began to show signs of anxiety and compulsions at primary school age. I saw a string of doctors and school nurses until I was finally sent to CAMHS for a proper diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) at the age of 17. Tackling multiple health issues at one time can be very tiring so after I learnt the skills to deal with my OCD, I decided earlier this year to get myself back to treatment where I received a diagnosis for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and emetophobia. 

My experience with mental health affects my life on a daily basis. My GAD makes everyday tiring and stops me from doing things I would love to do, because the worry in the lead up is just too much. I think the one stand-out way that mental health has affected my life is the physical side of anxiety and people's reactions to that. My dry, red and sometimes even bleeding hands, panic attacks, feeling nauseous and feeling hot are all things that come alongside my anxiety, which are harder to keep under wraps and often garner questions from other people making me hyper aware of how I am acting.

When Sophia put out a call for people to join in with her #MHAW15 posts, I jumped at the chance to join in as mental health awareness is something I have been passionate about from a very young age. Awareness is an incredibly important step in improving treatments and decreasing stigma, which is still rife in today's society. 

Check out Charlotte's blog here, and follow her on Twitter @CharlotteLife93
I'm Jess, I'm 19 years old and I'm currently studying Law at the University of Sunderland, as well as working part-time as a Customer Service Advisor on an evening. 

I have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and severe depression. 

To have this stamped against my name - it felt horrible and relieving at the same time. It made me feel like people would judge me and I shut everyone out for a while, didn't go to uni, didn't see my friends. I was terrified of the stigma, and that people would judge me. 

That is why MHAW15 is so important to me - it makes me realise that I am not the only person who feels or has felt like this, and that there are people out there who understand what I am going through and are there for me. 

Check out Jess's blog here, and follow her on Twitter @LipsticksandLaw.
I'm Katy, I'm 19 and a student of Creative Writing and Journalism.

I have been diagnosed with depression, and have seen many family members suffer with the illness too. I was diagnosed the day before Christmas Eve, 2014.

Having depression has affected my life in various ways; feeling unable to participate in social activities, being too sad to get out of bed, not wanting to go to uni, feeling incredibly stressed about things that aren't particularly stressful, not being able to sleep very well/getting bad nightmares, and having to cover up my self-harm. 

MHAW15 is very important to me as there is still a stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and anything that can be done to reduce that even slightly so that myself and others don't feel bad for suffering is exponentially important. To me it means speaking out, sharing your stories if you feel able, and offering your support.

Check out Katy's blog here, and follow her on Twitter @KatyGilroyBlog.
Hi, I'm Lucy, I am 34, and I work as an Arts Development Officer in a Hampshire School as well as blogging over at From Lucy with Love (and attempting to set up a small business, too!).

Since I was 14 years old I have suffered with a roller coaster of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, mild self-harm and mild hallucinations.

When I was younger many of my issues kept me housebound, however these days (call it older and wiser), I am much better at staying positive and spotting the warning signs.

MHAW is so important to me as it helps to bring this important issue, and it's many sufferers, to the forefront of discussion which, inevitably leads to change. Bring it on! 

Check out Lucy's blog here, and follow her on Twitter @LucyCarterArt.
I'm Olivia, a 20 year old Film and Television student, also trying to start out as a Social Media Manager. 

I have been diagnosed with depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and now anxiety on top of that. I also have a number of friends who are also suffering with similar conditions.

I have found my second year at university especially hard as my anxiety has taken a turn for the worse, so I've had  to miss a lot of days at university, to stay at home and recover. My depression and PTSD often mean going outside alone is difficult so I do spend a lot of time indoors on my own.

I think it's so important to spread awareness and I have attempted to do so in a number of blog posts. I think it's great people are now becoming more aware what mental health really is, and the fact that it can hit anyone; anyone from a mother, to a brother, to a friend, to your next door neighbour, teacher, the lady at the supermarket and even celebrities. In 2015 it's becoming more accepted than ever! 

Check out Olivia's blog here, and follow her on Twitter @_OliviaJadexo.

How have you been affected by mental health? Do you think raising awareness is important? Keep an eye out for part two, which will be live here on Tattooed Tealady this Thursday!