Ash here as Sam is enjoying herself in Brighton for her best friend Holly's hen party
This week is mental health awareness week and, as you know, mental health and wellbeing is something Sam and I are both very passionate about - it's why we created SMASH! Hopefully you have seen some interesting, helpful and informative posts on social media, interviews in magazines/newspapers or articles on the radio and TV? This shows we are getting much better at talking about mental health and trying to remove the stigma around being open and honest about our mental wellbeing, but there is still some way to go until it becomes something we can discuss openly and honestly without fear or worry about reaction, and it starts with us...
All of us will probably suffer some form of mental health decline at some point in our lives and, just like our physical health, it will be something that is very different and personal for each of us. Over the years I have experienced anxiety and stress and when I was young I suffered a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (something I still have now to a lesser degree - although Simon may say otherwise as it takes me 10 minutes to make sure the house is secure before I go to bed!). I remember when I was about 10 I had an obsession with making sure the taps were completely off and that there were no drips, whatsoever. I used to close them so tight that sometimes my Mum couldn't wash her hands (and she would get very annoyed!) and one day I even managed to take the tap off - water went gushing everywhere! I was convinced that if I didn't do things a certain way then bad things would happen to people I loved so I made sure that I did everything the same way every day, counting in my head to a certain number to convince myself the tap was off or the window was closed or the gas was off on the oven. So many times I had to return home to make sure I had locked the front door or that my rabbits weren't able to escape from their hutch! Thankfully this has got better as I have got older but, like I said, it is still there a little bit and probably will be for the rest of my life - it has just become a lot more manageable and less extreme and I understand now that it is something that I am in control of. This makes a huge difference! The good news is that most mental health conditions are manageable once we have a better understanding of our own minds or seek treatment, and share our experiences with others.
How is your mental health?
This is something we should be asking ourselves, and all those we care about. The more we sincerely ask, the more it opens conversation - maybe not the first time, but it will happen eventually. Something is only taboo when it is not spoken about honestly, freely and openly. We need to make mental health discussion something we aren't ashamed of. We need to understand that we can all benefit by talking more, and we need to talk with pride. We should be able to express when we are feeling low or just having an 'off' day and not be made to feel that we need to 'snap out of it'. We need to admit that we are working on building stronger mental health, just like we want good physical health. We need to get talking and encourage each other! Reach out to those you care about and love, talk to a stranger if you get the opportunity. Ask people how their mental health is and what they are doing to improve or maintain it. We can all learn so much from each other.
Be honest, be open, be you.
Remove the stigma.
The Time Is Now.
Have a wonderful weekend and be kind to yourself in every way that you can
Sam and Ash