11 Years Strong

22nd June 2021

Always that day of mixed emotions . . . today is my birthday and I turn 44, but is also the anniversary of the day when I came close to taking my own life. There will be flashbacks of that day and associated feelings feel very raw again once more, but today I celebrate 11 years strong!!! Anxiety and depression remain a part of my life and yes I struggle, I struggle a lot, but I just don’t quit! Like so many, this last year or so has really challenged me and at times my mental health has not been good and I have really struggled. I know now though that it’s OK to not be OK and that it’s OK to share those feelings and emotions. Some may find it strange that I share these feelings and experiences so publicly, but it is so vitally important that we remove the stigma surrounded with mental health. I came close to taking my own life because I felt alone, I felt like ‘a freak’, I felt like the only person feeling such emotions and the constant pressure of such thoughts over 18 months or so brought me close to suicide as the only way to escape those negative thoughts. More than ever in life we must take the time to speak and listen to our friends and colleagues and remember to ‘ask twice’. If we are going to ask someone ‘how are you?’, ‘how was your weekend?’ etc, then we must take the time to listen . . . not everyone will have had a good one!!! It’s also so easy for someone to reply ‘fine’, so make sure that you ask twice! It is good to talk, simply having someone to listen, to stop, to ask and to care can make such a difference. My birthday wish is for us to all do that and for the stigma surrounding mental health to be removed.