I'm quite happy to be open about my mental health issues - I think the more we talk about them and normalise them, the faster we break stigma and hopefully change perceptions of mental health. I have struggled with mental health issues for about 8 years or so, which I've talked more about in my post here. I actually enjoy talking about it - not to get attention or anything like that, but because it's what I know. My adult life started with mental health, and for the foreseeable future, that's what it's gonna stick with. And by that, I don't mean things won't always get better - there will be ups and downs and I will do my best to deal with them - but because I want to do something with my life that will be beneficial to the mental health population; whether that's training to be a therapist, fundraising for charities, or even just supporting people I know with their struggles. It's found me it seems!

I thought, after finishing my second round of CBT last year, that I had finally hit the nail on the head when it came to my mental illness. I thought I had everything finally sorted, and everything was pretty much smooth sailing from there. I've not been entirely wrong either - mostly, things have been better, give or take the odd day here and there which I always try not to beat myself up about. However, in the last couple of weeks, I had multiple anxiety attacks, to the level of which I'd not had since I was in my final year of uni. I lost my appetite, I didn't sleep well, I couldn't concentrate on anything, and I just stopped caring about anything else; my anxiety consumed all my energy. Thankfully, those attacks have since passed and I'm feeling calmer and mostly happier.

What a lot of people don't talk about (and what isn't always obvious) when it comes to mental health is the aftermath. Whether it be from an episode of low mood, a time of crisis, a panic attack...getting back to normal after it's passed is really bloody hard. I've been nearly falling asleep at work and napping every single day because of all the sleep I lost that's now catching up with me; my appetite is through the roof causing me to eat when I don't really need to; and my concentration levels are still fairly low, but that's because of the energy I don't have to focus, rather than energy being used up thinking about so many things at once. My hormones are all out of kilter and I'm even more emotional than my emotionally-charged self haha! I've felt, for the first time in a long time, scared of what the future will be like dealing with my mental health. I have days where I think 'this is never going to go away' but then that thought goes away, and I feel better. I'm slowly working my way back towards my 'normal' self again, but this time, I want to keep going even further.

Mental illness can turn people into different versions of themselves that they didn't know were possible; and coming out of that can be really difficult - physically, mentally and emotionally. I was talking to my mum the other day about everything, and we were talking about the progress I made; it really hit me hearing from her perspective how different I was to who I felt I was, and who I feel I am now. She told me that since I've been getting treatment, she got her little girl back. (Needless to say, I cried!) The last couple of weeks have shaken my life up and into perspective, and so now I've re-referred for more CBT - because frankly, I'm so fed up of having anxiety attacks - and ready to finally walk away from all the versions I once was. It's very liberating to take control of your life and say 'I want to look after myself'. I'm really really proud of how far I've come, and even though there's still so much to do, and I'm really, really tired, I can't wait.

M x