Holly, 25, Manchester

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“‘You look fine’ or ‘you’re such a confident person’ are common responses I have had when telling people I suffer with a mental health disorder. Whenever I hear comments like this I wonder what people think a mental health disorder looks like in a person.

The easiest way for me to describe it is that it’s a part of you that’s always there, that no one else can see unless you let them. For me it is like having the radio on all the time. The volume may be low, the sound may be muffled but you can still hear it and in the deeper, darker times the volume is so loud you cannot hear anyone or anything else, no matter how hard you try it won’t turn off. I am Holly and I have depression and anxiety and yes I am confident and I look fine (most of the time).
I am in my 25th year on this planet and I finally feel like my disorders are mine. After years of GP appointments and failed counselling sessions and in the early days telling people ‘I’m not depressed just sad’, I am now at peace with what it means to be depressed and anxious. My early journey of self loathing and seclusion left me fearful if I would ever be normal, but what is normal and why do we have this idea that we have to be normal? Circumstances change, our environment can change and an external change can cause an even bigger internal change leading to mental health issues. There is no rule book for life let alone life with a mental health disorder and I think normal is pretty boring anyway.
The biggest turning point for me in the last five years was having a mental breakdown in my early twenties which was the second time that this had happened to me in my lifetime. I had drained all of my power, I had lost all the words in my mouth and my mind was empty and I stood completely neutral in my own skin with no choice but to rebuild and start again. We have the ability to take control of any situation, we just need to have the belief in ourselves and to trust that we can make it through.
The moment I committed to being open with myself and others was the moment a shift occurred in my life. This doesn’t mean my depression got easier, it means I eliminated some of the pressure and somehow became prepared to face it on a daily basis.
We live in a World where there is an alternative arena of help for us to access at the click of a button: the internet. The day I started typing and posting online everything changed for me and the even bigger change came when I shared my posts with my friends. I will never forget that day when I was feeling exceptionally brave and decided to post about my blog on Instagram. The influx of kindness and support from close friends and old friends was so very beautiful and one of the most poignant moments in my journey. For the first time I sat and I cried with happiness about this thing which had tormented me for so long, now it was aiding and healing me.
Do not be afraid to talk about it in whatever capacity, however big or small! For so long I believed the only person I should confide in was a healthcare professional but at my lowest point one of the kindest doctors I have ever met, who truly altered my path put her arm around me and told me not to forget my friends and family. She went on to tell me about the power of the people close to us and after her showing me both love and sharing her knowledge I went home and told a member of my family what was happening.
After being diagnosed with depression the diagnosis of anxiety came a few years after. I could no longer go into town shopping or meet friends and I even struggled with public transport  and as someone who doesn’t drive I felt like I was trapped at home with the same four walls and no outlet. And then I saw it, my resolution and it was on my doorstep. I started walking in the park and around my local streets, just walking and existing. I was outside come rain or shine and my greatest comfort came from open spaces with only a few people frequenting the same path.
My greatest words of wisdom when it comes to self-care if you will is to find what works for you. There are a million ways to deal with depression and anxiety but you may only need one and do not be afraid if a hot bath and a brew is your biggest form of self-care, it is self-care all the same.
We can do this and more importantly we can do this together!
Please feel free to join me over on my blog.”

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