10OCT World Mental Health Day: Emma’s Story
On World Mental Health Day, Emma Hick from the Reach Nestle team wanted to share her story, to let everyone know that they are not alone and that it is good to talk about your mental wellbeing.
“Mental illness is not selective – it does not care about your sex, race, religion, orientation or status. It can effect anyone at any time. If you are suffering remember this – there are many more people out there just like you who understand how you feel.
Looking back at my life, I have probably suffered with a mental illness for half of it. I have suffered with an eating disorder, low to non-existent self-esteem, depression and anxiety. I can’t say I’ve had a bad life, yes there have been difficult parts like everyone has but ultimately it’s always been full of friends, family and lots of love.
However, this is what people don’t understand. I have a job that I love, my own house, some fantastic friends, a loving family and I recently got married to the love of my life – so how on earth could I be depressed?
Depression raises its head in many ways, it could be from an upsetting or stressful event in your life, it could be biological or it could be a result of how you cope with day to day life. For me I believe it is a mixture of all three of these. I have had some sadness and stress in my life, my family has a long history of depression and how do I cope? I keep going, ignoring all the stress until I crash. I don’t choose to feel the way I do and no, I can’t just “snap out of it” or “pull myself together”.
I have always been quite open about my mental health with those close to me, however, I have never talked about it in work or with my managers – that is until joining Reach.
Last year I was able to take part in the Spotlight Awards and as part of my presentation I talked openly about my mental health experiences. I felt that I worked for a company that was open and non-judgemental enough to do so and gosh I was right. After presenting I spoke to so many friends, colleagues and even strangers, who shared their own experiences with me and thanked me for being so open and honest.
Despite getting married this year and having the happiest year of my life, I have also probably had one of the hardest years in terms of my depression. I have had many days where I can’t face the world and want to hide away in my own little bubble at home, upset and anxious for no specific reason.
I have however been so lucky to have the most supportive manager who has helped me on those not so great weeks. He understands, listens, lets me vent but – most importantly – never judges. Through work I have also managed to get additional support through Medicash, Grocery Aid and other schemes, all absolute blessings as unfortunately the NHS waiting lists for support in my area have always been over a year. Thanks to Acosta Europe’s health schemes and promotion of Grocery Aid, I have now been seeing a counsellor regularly who is really helping me work though all of my issues.
While everyone is different there are a few things that help me get through the bad spells that I would like to share.
- Make time for yourself – I more often than not focus on everyone else’s happiness first. DON’T! Give yourself some time for you, it may be a 15 minute walk, a facemask on a Sunday night, or binge watching your favourite box set. Whatever it is do something that brings YOU joy!
- Make the effort – At your lowest this may seem like the hardest thing to do when you just want to hide but even if you manage to take a shower and get dressed, do some washing up, or make some lunch you will feel a sense of achievement, no matter how small, which can help boost your mood.
- Try some Mindfulness activities – there are so many different techniques online, have a search and give one a go! If you take 5 minutes a day to practice it will help so much more on the days you really need it.
- Talk! – You don’t necessarily have to speak about how you are feeling but picking up the phone to someone for a chat can help you feel less isolated. If you do want to speak about your feelings think about who you could speak to; your partner, friends, family and colleagues. Even online forums and helplines are there to support you, if you would prefer to speak to a stranger – just please don’t keep quiet!
I still have depression. I am still taking tablets. I still have low self-esteem and still have dark days but I will not be beaten. By talking about my struggles and sharing my story with you all I hope for those of you struggling this reassures you that you are not alone in how you feel.
Thank you to Emma for speaking so openly and honestly as a way to talk openly about mental wellbeing and help others.