The mental health mask. Anxiety, depression and panic attacks are often invisible.

This is me at half the age that I am now.  I hope you agree that I look as though I should be confident, courageous and happy…. I will share with you my secret I was desperately unhappy and struggling daily with my mental health.

Recently I was going through old photos.  This one stopped me in my tracks as the person I was looking at was very different to who I was living with at that time.  Others might see an attractive, confident young lady but when I looked at this photo memories of my poor mental health reminded me that things are not always as they seem.

I was deeply unhappy in my own skin.  Looking back I was in my prime yet I was full of self doubt, anxiety and panic attacks were a to frequent companion.

From an outsider looking in I look perfectly acceptable, who wouldn’t respect those eyebrows.

I am thankful to report that I am in a completely different place and this younger me now seems a complete stranger.

Keeping up Appearances

It lead me to ask questions, how many of us seem like we have it all on the outside yet inside struggling with self belief, anxiety and depression?  How many people put the mask on to keep up the appearance?  The job, the outfits, the car, the holidays.  Putting on an appearance is polite.

There are guidelines, books on how to sell yourself whether it be a job interview or dating.  Yet unless you are at peace on the inside you cannot be authentic.

Your internal voice will either make you or break you.  It makes life so much easier when you train it to be your best friend rather than your worst critic.

Of course I am now much later on in life but I do reflect back and wish ‘if only’.  If I had sourced help then maybe the path to where I am now would have been much smoother.  Although I am thankful and proud of who I am now I know that it is never to soon to reach out and get help.

If I am not open, honest and authentic about my own experience and journey with mental health then I cannot expect my clients to be.

Thankfully my much younger self is a distant stranger but I must be grateful for the teachings I experienced and overcome before it had a detrimental effect on my later years.

Not all learnings come from training courses and books and although we are all individuals and experience life differently, having a raw understanding allows me to help with integrity.

Taking care of our mental health is imperative to our wellbeing, success and ultimately our happiness.

I wish back then I had me!