This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I wanted to take the opportunity to write a little bit about my experiences with it and hopefully help one or two people along the way.

Over the years I have written a number of articles about my mental health including a lengthy piece for CALM back in 2013 which went into a lot of detail about my psychosis, depression and near suicide attempt.

Since then I have had continued ‘Up’s and Down’s’ with my mental health and still go through very dark bouts of depression, self-doubt, anxiety and generally just feeling shit.

But as time goes on I have started to deal with it all a little better. A large part of this is knowing myself more as I get older and also having people around me who I trust and feel ok being able to say ‘I feel crap at the moment’.

Some of the steps I have taken recently to deal with things better include doing more exercise throughout the week, being utterly open and honest and trying to take each day as it comes and switching my thoughts to let go of some of the negatives and focus on positives. All easier said than done.

I realise it is not always that easy and believe me I still have days where I get lost in dark clouds but knowing I am in them and knowing they won’t last forever does help.

The other side of being aware of my own Mental Health is that it gives me the ability to understand when others are going through bad times. We can all do things to help others such as really making sure people are ok and taking the time to listen to them if they need to talk.

We live in such a fast paced world these days that it can be easy to get caught up in your own dilemmas and be dismissive of other people.

Sometimes all it takes is a smile and saying to a friend ‘I’m here if you need me’. Often people find it hard to start those difficult conversations so do what you can to help facilitate them.

If you are going through something at the moment don’t feel scared or ashamed to say that you are not feeling right. Just because it’s a mental illness doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing. It is just a part of you that needs a little bit of care.