Opening up about mental health

Recently, you might have noticed that my Instagram captions are getting longer and I’m being more open about my experiences of anxiety, panic attacks and chronic illness. I’ve received so many wonderful comments and messages of support from old friends, new friends, and people I don’t know! So firstly – thank you to all of those lovely people!

Over the past year especially, it seems like we’ve taken such huge strides forward in talking about mental health and I think it’s so important to be a part of that discussion. There’s some things that I’m not comfortable with sharing on social media, and that’s okay, but I’ll always do my best to be open and honest when I feel able to. I think it’s really important that we share our experiences to remove the stigma of mental health problems and all support one another.

The first time I truly spoke to someone about my mental wellbeing was shortly after my M.E and Fibromyalgia diagnosis. I remember the conservation well – I was sitting across from my Doctor (a wonderfully supportive man, who I don’t think I’d have coped without) and I told him I was feeling low. It wasn’t the sort of low that I had felt when I was thirteen and I’d cried for days because the guy I liked didn’t like me back. It wasn’t the sort of low that I’d felt when someone close to me had died. I couldn’t describe it..

“I think I’m… depressed”

I’d practically whispered the words, hoping that if I said them quietly enough we could just forget they’d exited my mouth. I held my breath as I waited for his response. But the words he said weren’t what I’d expected:

“Of course you’re depressed. You’re living in constant pain. Who wouldn’t be depressed?”

Suddenly, it clicked. Of course! Why was I thinking of my mental health as some monster that had to be hidden away? I wasn’t scared of telling people that I had a chronic illness – why was I so scared of saying that I might be depressed?

In that moment, I made a promise to myself: I will treat any mental health problems I face the same as I’d treat any physical illness. If you broke your leg, you wouldn’t run around without a cast on – you’d seek help… and so, I did. Over the past six years, I’ve struggled with my mental health for various reasons and every time that I needed it – I’ve got help. I’m definitely going to try to blog more about all aspects of my wellbeing, including my mental health, but let me just say one last thing:

If you’re suffering from any mental health problems, please remember that analogy. Look after yourself. Give your mental health the same care and attention you do your physical health.

If anyone has been affected by anything I’ve discussed in this post, please seek the appropriate help – click here if you’re in the UK to see a great list of helplines. Otherwise, my messages are always open.

Ali Hemsley
Ali Hemsley

Ali is a 24 year old lifestyle blogger. She combines her advocacy and awareness work for chronic illness and mental health with her love for fashion. You can follow Ali on social media @alihemsley

Leave a comment

  1. Chris
    April 27, 2017 / 1:12 pm

    Overcoming the stigma of mental illness can be as much of an issue as the illness itself. Thanks for spreading the fact that it’s OK to admit to a problem and then get help with it when you need it.

  2. April 27, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    Great post, anxiety is a constant battle but you will always overcome it and be stronger. I really recommend hypnotherapy it really worked for me but if you ever need a chat I’m here xxxx

  3. carolyn
    April 27, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    Ali, well done on being brave and talking about this. I love how people are being more honest now but it does take courage so I admire you for this hugely. You make all of us who suffer from anxiety or depression feel better and less alone xx

  4. April 27, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    What a wonderful post. I can identify. xo

  5. April 29, 2017 / 9:28 am

    Well done for sharing this. I had a similar moment of revelation at a CBT group for chronic pain where they said "it’s normal to feel like this in response to chronic pain." And I breathed a sigh of relief. Still had a lot of hard work to do to get me back on track but I think that helped me let go of the guilt and blame I had put on myself for not coping in the first place.

  6. May 1, 2017 / 12:21 pm

    Shared link on PainPals Monday Magic – Inspiring blogs – can’t comment on CIB facebook thread any more, but liked! Great post!! xx

  7. May 1, 2017 / 2:43 pm

    Such an open and honest post – I suffered from anxiety and depression for a long time but I found it really helped when I started being more open about it. Loved the part where you said you had an anxiety attack and then spent the next day taking time out. That was important to me too. Thank you for talking about it, it’s right that mental issues should be treated as important as physical ones.

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