Mental illness isn’t something that affects other people. Mental illness affects EVERY Australian
According to the Black Dog Institute, 1 in 2 Australians will experience some form of mental illness and those around them witness or are affected by its impacts.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2011 after mistaking a panic attack for a heart attack. In hindsight I can see a much longer history of mental illness and I wonder whether my breakdown might have been prevented had I:
- better understood the many guises of mental illness
- known how to look after my own mental wellbeing
- felt like mental illness was normal, not something to be concealed out of shame or fear of consequences
- had someone to talk openly to about the thoughts, emotions and feelings I was experiencing.
My recent blog post, From Breakdown to Breakthrough details my experience and, although it was the first time I’d telling the story in such detail, most people in my life know that the Black Dog is a regular and unwelcome house guest.
As painful and awkward as it may be, I believe it is my responsibility to speak openly about my experience
Mental illness is an enormously complex and sensitive issue and I know that what works for me may not work for you. But I hope that sharing my story increases awareness and reduces the shame, stigma and fear associated with mental illness.
If, by talking openly about my experience, I can make it a little bit easier for one person to seek help I will have succeeded
October is Mental Health Month and it’s easy to get involved. Help build awareness by starting a conversations about mental health with your family, friends and work mates. For expert information about how to support yourself and the people in your life, check out these resources:
Lifeline: 13 11 14