Mental health problems can be so very isolating at times. Last week I was a bit of a social butterfly, catching up with three friends who I've not seen in far too long. Some days it's tricky, there have been times when seeing people has just been really hard and I've avoided certain social situations. This is a message to my friends...
To help distract your child's attention away from exam results, perhaps suggest going out for a walk or for lunch or encourage them to spend time doing something they enjoy whether that's shopping or going out with friends.
We are more than content to share our happiest moments on social media, but imagine a world where we would feel obliged to share out most depressing moments with one another? With this support network, many of the problems that seem unmanageable suddenly become manageable.
I had found myself panicking and dreading it all. For no reason other than the way I was handling balancing my long term pain with trying to be the person I want people to think I am - a sassy PR with a penchant for gin and tonic and not a care in the world, basically taking fake it till you make it a wee bit too far until I knew something had to give.
I'm sociable, I really am. Everyone I meet pegs me as an extrovert, the proverbial life and soul (burning bright but fast). I feed off interesting people like some kind of creature of the night, but afterwards I definitely need to recharge, assuming I haven't run out of battery mid-way through a party and am left standing paralysed in the full beam of small talk (or hiding in the loo, as above).
The key thing to remember seems to be not to give in. No matter how bad it feels, you are unlikely to die. You are afraid. It WON'T last forever. So breathe. Breathe again. Talk to someone.
Mental health campaigner and OBE recipient Ruby Wax recently told The Times: "When people say, 'Should you tell them at work?', I say: 'Are you crazy?' You have to lie. If you have someone who is physically ill, they can't fire you. They can't fire you for mental health problems but they'll say it's for another reason. Just say you have emphysema."
In the high powered, fast moving society we live in and with many companies downsizing, today's employees are expected to do more with less, as demands rise time diminishes, creating an alarming trend of workplace stress and overwhelm.
Last week I did the nursery run on my own for the first time.
My anxiety and depressive episodes in recent years have impacted upon my life considerably. But finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I write to offer a message of hope, a message that hopefully will resonate with many mental health sufferers. It gets better.
As someone who has lived with chronic pain and associated conditions since my early adulthood, I have tried scores of aids, medications, complementary products and stimulation devices in order to try and reduce my pain and allow me to live a fuller life. I've had the pleasure of discovering the MediPen recently and I've never tried anything quite like it!
People don't talk about sleep problems, because they're embarrassed; they've accepted it as a perpetual part of their lives and others might treat it as a triviality or selfish indulgence that you choose to yield to - you've made your bed, so now you (can't) lie in it.
I always say that finding out that I had tumours in my brain and spine (on the day of my school prom) was definitely the low point of my teenage years. But in a lot of ways, despite the fact that my eyesight and hearing have been seriously affected by the horrible treatment I've been through, cancer has changed my life for the better.
Now these may just sound like the ramblings of an insecure twenty-something and I can't apply this effect to everyone that uses social media, however after conversations with various friends I realised I'm not alone.
The agoraphobic could be the girl who's sitting in the car, not getting out for five minutes, ten minutes, or not at all. It could be the girl who looks so perfectly happy and contented at home on the sofa that you wouldn't have any idea how fast that can change if you ask her to go into a situation that distresses her.
Anxiety is a state of being distracted and worried, but it goes further than that. It starts as unease, and in fact it ticks away as that unsettling feeling in the background when you suffer for long enough, but it grows like mould. It spreads slowly but surely over time with the right conditions.