Mental Health Awareness Week

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I haven’t written a blog for a while; mainly because I’ve been busy fundraising ahead of my walk for CALM in a couple of weeks time (there’s still time to sponsor me, see here!). Well that and taking 5 million pictures of my beautiful new niece, more of which later.

Anyway, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought it was a fitting time to get back into this blog malarky. Now, every week in my mind should be Mental Health Awareness Week but it’s very refreshing to see so many people sharing their stories this week and the media paying particular attention to it. It’s also great that it comes off the back of the London Marathon and the sterling work Wills, Kate and Harry did with the Heads Together campaign. It really feels like there’s some momentum with talking about our mental health problems becoming far more “normal”, I just hope it’s not a fad and the great work continues.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’m currently in the throws of fundraising for CALM, a charity specifically aimed at fighting the stigma surrounding male mental health and reducing the number of male suicides in the UK. You don’t need me to tell you that there’s still massive strides that need to be made to allow men to feel comfortable talking about the intricacies of their emotions and feelings. It’s been hugely encouraging to see the likes of Rio Ferdinand talk so publically about the subject, especially given Rio in many ways is a stereotypical man’s man and one of the last people you’d expect to be so vocal about his struggles with bereavement.

Whilst I applaud anyone who speaks openly about their mental health, it always feels that bit more thought provoking when it’s a man as historically we’re told men don’t talk about these things. And yesterday I read a piece by award winning Dad blogger Jamie Day on his blog A Day In The Life Dad that felt utterly compelling. Not only is it frank and honest but it’s helpful; offering up advice to those who might be in a similar situation. So often you read pieces and they’re harrowing, but they offer little hope, which can be dangerous when you’re already feeling completely hopeless. It also felt that bit special as I follow Jamie and his beautiful wife on Instagram; they have the cutest children and a picturesque life in the country and he’s one of the last people I would have expected to have struggled with their mental health. Of course it’s important to remember that what we see isn’t always the full picture and anyone can, at any time in their life, be affected by mental health problems and it’s not a sign of weakness speaking up about it. So thank you Jamie for being so open.

In the spirit of openness, here’s little gambit on where I’m at with my mental health at the moment. Because I’ve been so busy recently, I’ve not really had much time to feel anxious or down but as it did last year, my birthday this weekend, was something of a catalyst for something of an emotional breakdown.

I recently became an aunty for the first time to the most gorgeous little monkey called Cara. And it’s safe to say that I’m utterly in love. I didn’t think it possible to love such a tiny little thing so much. I’ve been home a lot recently to spend time with her and every time I leave it feels like my heart breaks in two. Dramatic I know but there’s this physical feeling of sadness that engulfs me and lasts for a couple of days whilst I get back in to London life. It’s hideous. I cry my eyes out and my mind is just filled with her face  and it feels much like those all  encompassing feelings of grief when you’ve lost someone. And of course that’s ridiculous because I’m going to see her again in 6 weeks time, but it’s a very real, visceral feeling. I’ve always hated saying goodbye to anyone and often get tearful when I’ve had a lovely time and it’s over but those feelings I have after being home for a few days and return to reality are the worst. I feel everything all at once.

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Tom described it perfectly as he was wiping my tears away on the train; and it somehow helped me rationalise it a little. He said that I feel things more deeply than most – when I’m happy, I’m delirious, but when I’m sad, I’m deeply sad. And that seems to be a good way of looking at it; a way of looking at it that makes me think that I’m not completely stir crazy. I’m just overflowing with emotions.

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