The lady and me #EndTheStigma

The other day I met a lady who reminded me of me.

She stood in front of me, shaking, scared, hyperventilating, trying to speak through a stream of tears and fear. She wanted help, but she didn’t have anyone to turn to.

Something small, probably trivial to you or any other onlooker, had made her think all of the worst things in the world were happening to her at once.

She was terrified.

And my heart imploded.

Because she is me.


I know that fear. It follows me round too. A sickening dread, as if something terrible is about to happen and there is no way I will be able to stop it. Except there isn’t anything bad going to happen. Or if there is, it is something that to most people is so small and insignificant, something that can be rationalised and a likely outcome can be guessed. Something mundane and everyday.

Or if there is no fear there is a niggly doubt. A little gremliny thought that nibbles and worms its way around my head, goading me. Something I can’t put my finger on, although I do my best searching my mind for what it could be.  On good days, when my medication (yes that’s right, I have medication, lucky me!) is working the daemons fade, the dementors shrink and I can smile. My sense of humour, my ‘patronus’, can ward off the darkness and keep the anxiety at bay.


On bad days, throwaway comments or gentle teasing by others will hit me like daggers,stabbing at my insecurities. For most people, these comments would slide over their head like rain off a ducks back. But the lady and me, we aren’t like ‘most’ people. We are one of the ‘1 in 4’ mental health statistic that you might have heard about. Mental health practitioners (and society in general) like labels. My particular labels are ‘General Anxiety Disorder’ and ‘Depression’. I could probably have a small sticky label with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder too, but that one isn’t official yet.


I don’t like labels. Labels define, pigeonhole and box people in. My problems are not well defined shades of black and white. They are grey. But society likes labels. They like to know what they are dealing with. They like to be able to categorise, and separate ‘normal’ from ‘not normal’. I guess to most , the lady and I would fall into ‘not normal’. I can’t speak for her, but I can speak for me, and I’m ok with that. I don’t want to be normal. But I don’t want to be ‘crazy’ either.


‘Crazy’ is how other people saw the lady. ‘She’s acting weird’ they said ‘She’s crazy’. No, I tried to explain. She has anxiety. Her brain works differently to yours, and she is scared. She thinks the worst thing is happening. She might even think she is going to die. You need to reassure her. You need to calm her. You don’t need pity her.  You don’t need to be afraid of her. Talk to her normally,don’t roll your eyes or snigger behind her back. Don’t say she is being silly, however silly or small or pointless you think her fear is. To her it is real. And that is all that matters.











30 days wild -what it means to me.

Heart hands @Dani Cox.jpg

‘Never cast a clout til May is out’ – an old English saying, meaning don’t go outdoors without your coat  May is almost out now, and June heralds the arrival of the ’30 Days Wild’ challenge from the Wildlife Trust. I thought I’d take this opportunity to write down why I’ve signed up to take part.

2016 is whizzing by,  but I really wish I could slow time down. I have 4 months of my maternity leave left (I know I am fortunate that I can take this long), and I’m just starting to enjoy my life again. I have suffered with postnatal depression and anxiety after the birth of both my children, and life has not been easy.

I usually describe my mental health issues as being like J.K Rowling’s ‘Dementors’. They have sucked all hope, happiness and joy out of life, and destroyed my sense of identity. On bad days I feel useless, a failure and have a constant feeling of despair and dread. My brain flits from one idea to the next, I start a million jobs but never feel like I finish any. I put all my energy into making sure my girls never, ever notice how I feel, which is exhausting to maintain. Over time I have stopped doing things that I enjoyed previously: reading, writing, hiking. Depression sucks the fun out of everything. I have hidden how I feel from everybody apart from my partner F. It took until my second child was 5 months old before I had enough strength to ask for ‘outside help’. 2 months later, and I am just starting to feel a little bit more like my old self again. I have gradually begun to do things for enjoyments sake, blogging  and photographing nature being two of these things.

I guess blogging is my own version of  J.K Rowling’s ‘patronus spell’ (for those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter, these spells are performed by wizards and witches to defend themselves against evil). Immersing myself in nature, thinking about what I will write about tomorrow, being creative, getting out in the fresh air, walking, teaching my two wild spirits about the world they live in … all things that will help me fend off the ‘darkness’ . I am hoping that the ’30 Days wild’ challenge will give me something to focus my efforts on, and give me something to look forward to doing with my girls.  If I’m having a bad day, I can try and achieve something small, even if it just means going outside to get a photo of the sparrows or check on the house martins nest.  I also like the feeling of being part of an extended community, who are blogging and tweeting their way through their own  30 day challenge. This sense of belonging helps to chip away at the loneliness and isolation my PND causes. I really think the next month will be an enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to the adventures we are going to have .

If you feel like participating there is still time to sign up here. Come and join us!