Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety 

Last week was mental health awareness week. Whilst I have written about this subject before, including most recently for Time To Talk back in February, I actually find it a difficult subject to write about. Hence the late post about it, well at least in part anyway!

Here’s the thing, I wholeheartedly believe that people need to know that they are not alone when it comes to mental health issues. The stigma that exists really does need to be tackled; people need far more support and understanding… and far less judgement. I consider myself a mental health advocate infact. But when I post information or words of support, I purposely don’t share details of our personal story. I initially thought it was perhaps obvious why this might be but as time has gone on, I have discovered that sometimes the lack of openness about this subject is met with confusion, as I guess it does perhaps appear contradictory on the surface, and sometimes leads to (wrong) assumptions, occasionally even suspicion. So I thought it might be useful to blog about why I don’t blog about it! 

First and foremost – it comes down to RESPECT. It is not my story to tell. Squiggle has an anxiety disorder, I am open about that fact. But whilst as a family we welcome sharing our feelings, encourage openess, understand and support mental health issues – and we certainly do not in any way indicate that it is something to be embarassed of – we do also respect her feelings on the matter. We respect her RIGHTS to privacy and respect the things she has shared with us in CONFIDENCE. It is about TRUST

In short, it is her perogative to choose who she wants to share personal information with and how much to share. As far as I am concerned, this applies to anyone sharing personal information about themselves in any context, regardless of age or subject. 

(Of course there are rare occasions it has been necessary to discuss and I have done so, for example when speaking to professionals to seek help for her, but that is an exception). 

The other thing is that I want my blog to be somewhere that I would feel comfortable with her reading. Today, next month, in a year, in a decade, even in 20 or 30 years… if she ever came across anything that I have written I want her to feel safe and comfortable reading it. I don’t want it to trigger her anxiety, or cause her stress. Especially not when she works so hard to overcome it! If she ever chooses to use her experience to help others, that is her choice. But it is up to her. And it should never come at the expense of her own mental health. You know what they say, you have to fit your own gas mask before you can help others! 

Ultimately, everyone is different. Some people choose to write about really personal things and that is ok. But it is also ok not to as well. We should all just do what we feel is right for our situation. And whilst I know I don’t need to explain my actions or reasons, I have chosen to because I hope in doing so, it might help people understand a little more about it. 

On that note, what I would like to share with you all are a few useful resources that we have found really helpful…

Self-help books that are really useful for children with anxiety or OCD:

What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck ~ £12.50

What To Do When You Worry Too Much ~ £12.50

What To Do When You Grumble Too Much ~ £12.50

Self- help book for parents:

Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step By Step Guide For Parents ~ £15.24

Thrive App: 

Thrive ~ I already love this app, even though I have actually only just discovered it! It guides you through meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation and other useful strategies. Plus my particular favourite; creating a zen garden. It also has great additional features like mood tracker and support network. In my opinion it can be used by the whole family. The app has various cost options: £4.99 per month, £9.99 for 3 months unlimited use or £1.99 per month for one year subscription. 

Thrive app, anxiety, mental health, cbt, mindfulness, stress, depression, meditation, zen, relaxation, Living Life Our Way

Lastly, here are some recent blog posts written about mental health: 

The Parent and Pupil Coach (great tips for helping children with anxiety)

Pink Pear Bear (letter to anxious child)

Someone’s Mum (about her own anxiety)

A Blonde and A Baby (describing her anxiety

Two Little Misters (how to help a friend with anxiety)

Emma Reed (ending the stigma of counselling)

Surviving Life’s Hurdles (on how getting outdoors helps)


*The books are affiliate links.



#TimeToTalk Mental Health 

As it is Time To Talk day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some facts about mental health.

Time To Change, Mental Health, #timetotalk, mental illness, Living Life Our Way

Mental health can affect anyone of any age, at any time. In the UK alone, one in four adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001). Furthermore, one in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. (The Office for National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005).

People of any age suffering from mental health issues need to be taken seriously and supported by those around them. The stigma that sometimes still exists around this subject in our society must be broken down, because people need to talk openly about mental health problems with the expectation of understanding and acceptance. Sufferers must never feel they have to hide their true feelings from the world, for that is the most dangerous thing of all.

However, as MQ Mental Health research suggests, the majority of young people are not in touch with mental health services and there is a serious lack of funding for such services too. In addition to this, around half of young people with mental illness are concerned about stigma and how they will be treated. This has to change.

As a parent of a child with an anxiety disorder, I know how important it is to talk about this subject and to ensure your child receives the treatment and support they need. Childhood mental health needs to be taken as seriously as adult mental health, and that also should be seen as just as important as any other health issue. But many people believe young children cannot possibly suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues; this is simply not the case. And having a ‘happy childhood’ does not guarantee against it either.

As an article from The Guardian explains “depression (like all mental illnesses) typically doesn’t take personal factors into account. Mental illness can affect anyone….

…Smoking may be a major cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can end up with it. And a person’s lifestyle doesn’t automatically reduce their suffering. Depression doesn’t work like that…

…Perhaps none of it makes sense from a logical perspective, but insisting on logical thinking from someone in the grips of a mental illness is like insisting that someone with a broken leg walks normally; logically, you shouldn’t do that.”

I’ll leave you from the following message from Jason Manford, written shortly after the death of Robin Williams: 

“If you feel alone and down, anxious and low. If you feel deep sadness but can’t find a root cause. If people tell you to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘things can only get better’ or ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, know that it’s simply not always true. Sometimes it does kill you. Please seek help. No one will think you’re being melodramatic, I swear. No one will think you’re silly or wasting people’s time. No one will say ‘what? But you’re always so happy, maybe you’re just having a bad day’. For some people, every day is a bad day and they get through it, but sometimes they stop getting through it.

If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world’s greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time. If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague. I always remind myself of the quote from Watchmen: “Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” 

Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don’t want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP. The world needs you even if you don’t think it does. I promise, we need you here, now.” (Jason Manford, August 2014)

If you need more information on mental health and/or where you can find help please visit mentalhealth.org.uk 

Spectrum Sunday