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World Mental Health Day 2016

written by Sarah Hayes 10/10/2016

When I experienced Postpartum Psychosis following the birth of my son I was totally shocked as I had never experienced mental illness previously.

My feelings ranged from confusion, elation, shock and embarrassment to overwhelming fear.

On World Mental Health Day 2016 I would really like to get the message out there to everyone to talk about mental health.

When I hear the statistic that one in four people struggle with their mental health, I believe the figures are more than one in four. Everyone suffers in some way whether it's stress, anxiety, panic, depression or other mental ill health. No-one is exempt.

The fear, shock and anguish of being admitted to a psychiatric hospital, sectioned and separated from my six day old baby affected me in a way that I felt unable to talk about it. My self confidence and self identity was crushed and it was 13 years until I met another person who had experienced Postpartum Psychosis and I began to talk about it.

"The fear and shame became less and less. This was a turning point for me in my recovery."

What I want to say is mental illness can happen to anyone and is likely to affect every one of us at some point in our lives. Let's talk about mental health and get rid of the awful stigma which stops so many of us talking about it.

Following Postpartum Psychosis I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder which is something I found difficult to accept. I find managing bipolar difficult and frightening however I was lucky that for 15 years I was well on Lithium medication. In the last five years it has been a lot more difficult.

I don't know if my medication is less effective now after I stopped it many years ago and went back on it. I have episodes of what may be hormonal depression which affects every aspect of my life. Driving, working, etc. are extremely difficult at these times.

I have a very understanding husband and a very supportive mum. My husband recognises when I am becoming unwell. I talk to him and don't feel afraid to say when I'm feeling awful. I've become very good at putting on a smile and pretending to the outside world that I'm ok. My husband tells me it's ok not to be ok and I don't have to pretend.

What I've learned from over 20 years of the roller coaster of mental illness is not to be afraid to say when I'm not ok and by talking to those who understand, it means I don't have to go through this alone.

Please talk about mental health, educate others and end the stigma. 

If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email info@timetochangewales.org.uk

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