Mental Health: My Story

Its world mental health day! As well as keeping healthy and fit on the outside, you have to remember to keep healthy and fit on the inside too, your brain is a muscle and it needs to relax, just like your body does.

However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Especially if you have a mental health condition. I do, and the factors that help me personally get through it are; reading, music, surrounding myself with positive friends and family, talking and being open – but most of all: fitness and going to the gym.

My experience with the gym didn’t start until February 2017. Before this, my view of the gym, body image especially and my relationship with food definitely was not at the top of my fun to do list. It actually started off my low moods and anxiety about not liking my photo being taken or not wanting to go to parties and pools or hot tubs. It’s only very very very recently I have opened up to that idea. But when I say very recently, I mean last week!

But my mental health started going south when I was diagnosed with epilepsy, a long term chronic health condition. That was in April 2016, the weekend of my 18th birthday which I spent in hospital for three days post-club and celebrating. This, was okay to deal with as I had exams to focus on and not many people knew – or rather cared – about it so it didn’t affect me. However, towards my exams, I had about 3 fits / seizures every month. It slowed down in summer, but still continued regardless. During this process, after that hurdle, I came to University. However, my mental health took a turn for the worse. I was being investigated for another long term condition: an auto-immune disease called Lupus. For me, (it affects people in different ways), it causes blood clots, a bone deficiency (connective tissue disease) and cells in which are common in miscarriages and birth defects. Then during both of these, I received the news I have an irregularity in my heart. I have a abnormal / non-existent blood flow to my aortic arch. Aka: blood clots and an irregular heart = not a great combo.

Now. Back in February (when I started the gym) it was purely about aesthetics, but as time moved to March and April, the gym became something different for me. It became my training. I wanted to run the 2017 Royal Parks Half Marathon. Then the last week of university (as I am writing this it is the second week post-getting this brief of creating a fashion film) I got told I needed to pull out. It doesn’t mean I can never do it, but I need to give myself time to figure out what is wrong and my health came first.

While my physical health is great, my mental health, has increased to a bad stage and I have times when I completely break down, but the things that keep me going is my family and the gym. The gym is the one place I can offload everything. I can offload all my frustrations onto those squats and TRX machines. Because I am simply a warrior.

So the point of the story? This is personal, this is my journey and I want to make a statement. I want to make a difference, whether its an Instagram account or a Pinterest account re-pinning quotes and motivation images, or making a short film at my university. I want to do something.

Combining mental and physical health is important and I think brands should be more aware of this, and the models or message, to make a difference. The rise of social media, new pressures on younger and older people are insane in terms of negative mental health. So this is me doing my part.

Thank you for reading my story till the end. You are an incredible human and life isn’t meant to be wasted.

Lots of Koala Hugs and until next time,
Hannah xxxxxx

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