I’m so proud of all the progress I’ve made with my mental health issues – I lead a mostly happy, healthy life, bar the odd anxiety attack and the anorexic voice that whispers in my ear (but gets quieter every day). I’m so proud of all the women I see around me who have made the same changes – who fight for the life they deserve, and there is often no harder fight than the ones in your own mind.
This year’s pledge for International Woman’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. Because I write openly about mental health issues, people often open up to me about their own problems. Every day I hear amazing stories about people who have dared to change – who’ve given it everything they have to break a bad habit or thought pattern, to accept a compliment and fight down a negative thought, who’ve accepted that some days it’s OK just to get through it still breathing. I’ve seen women juggling jobs and families, whilst coping with severe anxiety and carrying on despite just wanting to curl up and sleep. Or run away and hide from life. I’ve spoken to people who’ve reached out and asked for help when their condition has become too much for them to cope with alone. All these are amazing achievements that are battling for change and acknowledging an inner strength that can only make women’s positions in society more powerful.
And I also want to thank those who enable these changes. I’ve had some amazing carers and therapists, all of whom I know must have helped so many women find new reserves they never knew they had. There was Barbara who, when I was hospitalised, taught me to confront the other patient who was bullying me – she showed me I was strong enough and I was worth it. There was Leanne who helped me acknowledge my abusive past relationship and helped me see that it was not my fault and that HE was the weak one – that I was punishing my body because of shame and fear but that I was strong enough to live my life without needing to do that. And now there is Kris who is working on keeping me safe and happy – who is guiding me through memories that are holding me back and allowing me a space to grow and push myself to get everything from life that I deserve. These women – and thousands of others like them – have been bold for me and countless others when we’ve been too afraid. But they’ve passed on their strength and knowledge so that we can dare to be bold too.
Keep helping each other grow. Keep daring to be different. Keep fighting for change – you’re worth it.