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. I respect her RIGHT to privacy and respect the thoughts she has shared with me in CONFIDENCE. It is about TRUST.
In short, it is her perogative to choose who she wants to share personal information and feelings with, and how much to share. As far as I am concerned, this applies to anyone 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 on a daily basis. If she ever chooses to use her experience to help others, that is her choice. And I would be amazingly proud of her if so. But it is up to her. And it should never come at the expense of her own mental health. You have to fit your own oxygen 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 You Worry Too Much ~ £12.50
What To Do When You Grumble Too Much ~ £12.50
Self- help book for parents:
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.
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.