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Last year, Hannah starred in our new series of videos 'Talking about mental health'. In her blog she describes how the experience helped her to open up about her mental health with those close to her.
As I stood outside the café where the filming was going to take place I noticed my body tense and I became breathless. Initially I had been so keen to take part in the videos on depression and low self-esteem, but thinking it and actually doing it, I was realising now, were two very different things. I feared that exposing my inner most feelings and fears to a group of people I had never met before could potentially lower my already wobbly self-esteem. What would people think of me? Would they judge me? What should I say, or not say? All of these thoughts were racing through my mind and the idea of crossing the café’s threshold became ever more terrifying!
Eventually, after a few deep breaths and a little motivational speech to myself I entered the café… and it was one of the best things I ever did. Whilst at first it took us all a little while to adjust to the cameras and get comfortable with each other soon we were off and before we knew it the session had come to an end. All of the crew and the people from Mind were incredibly supportive and helpful but after a while we didn’t even need their pointers and conversation topics!
It was incredibly liberating and empowering to sit and listen and talk to people who have experienced depression and low self-esteem. Whilst no person’s experience is ever the same we noticed similarities in each other’s stories and this allowed us to empathise but also learn from what others had to say.
As I discussed my low self-esteem and how it had affected my life, thoughts and memories came back to me that I had completely forgotten. If someone had told me aged 15 that I would one day be sat, feeling confident enough to tell complete strangers about my most personal moments in life I would not have believed them or thought them ridiculous. Low self- esteem and depression take over your life and often leave you feeling hopeless and alone. But there we were, five individuals, chatting about our lives, our fears and our hopes. We swapped coping techniques and discussed medication and treatments that had worked for us. We laughed, even about the hard times and by the end of the session I felt such a connection with these once “strangers.”
Talking about our mental health is difficult or scary for the majority of us but I cannot recommend it enough. Whilst after the session I was left physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted I have never felt such a release, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I had gotten over the fear of talking to close family and professionals about my life and problems but doing the filming session for Mind was on another level. It isn’t something we should have to be scared about, speech is so powerful and talking to other individuals who have experienced similar problems is the most healing and helpful tool.
Previously I had always felt very alone but meeting these other wonderful people who suffer as I do helped me to realise that I wasn’t, that others can understand and relate to everything I have been through and can help.
As a result of doing these videos for Mind I have become “at peace” with my depression and low self-esteem. I realised whilst chatting to these four incredibly strong and caring individuals that I had no reason to be ashamed or to hide who I really was.
I published the videos on my Facebook account, slightly terrified at the hundreds who may see it but the feedback I have had has been incredible. It made me realise how many other people suffer in silence, or know people who do. These videos and Mind as a whole help not only me and the others involved but help people to realise they are not alone, they can get suggestions on how to seek help or ideas on how to cope. I truly hope that the films have helped even just one person feel supported or comforted in their fight against mental illness or have helped a family member understand what they are going through.
I would encourage anyone to take part in in a mind video, you won’t regret it!
Read about types of mental health problems
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Choose one of the options below to find out more.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.