Women share powerful essays on managing their mental health

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, Stylist looks back on some of our most powerful essays on mental health, to offer support and solidarity during this week and beyond.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we’re talking about our mental health more and more.

Mental health charities have warned that anxiety and stress are on the rise in the UK, while psychiatrists have suggested there could be a “tsunami” of mental illness following lockdown.

And here’s a sobering statistic to consider: even before the coronavirus crisis, more than half (51%) of young women aged 18-30 in the UK said they were currently worried about their mental health. This figure was a sharp rise from 2016, when 38% of young women said they were worried about their mental health. The data, compiled by the Young Women’s Trust last year, shows a concerning trend for fears around issues such as anxiety, depression and OCD.

Stylist is proud to publish the following beautiful and moving essays from women detailing how they manage their mental health. While mental health is a big issue, estimated to affect one in four people in the UK every year, each person will have a unique experience with it – as these women’s words so eloquently prove.

Read on to find out how some of our most powerful writers faced challenges from dealing with anxiety and depression to battling insomnia and even their own genetics.

“I’ve been having therapy over Zoom for a month and it’s completely changed my perspective”

Due to the UK lockdown, therapy sessions are now taking place across online platforms such as Zoom. Here, one writer describes what it’s like to tell a screen about her most intimate feelings.

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“How running every day has made me happier – and why it can for you, too”

Following the breakdown of her marriage and a mental health crisis, Jog On author Bella Mackie turned to running – and she hasn’t looked back since. Here, Bella talks about the brilliant power of exercise for boosting our mental health, and shares her advice on getting started with your own running regime.

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“My postpartum psychosis made me believe I was Cameron Diaz”

Postpartum psychosis is a rare mental health condition that can affect new mums. Here, one writer shares her own experiences of postpartum psychosis and postnatal depression following the birth of her son.

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“How therapy helped me through my mum’s suicide”

Mary-Jane Wiltsher was 16 when her mum took her own life. After burying her grief throughout her twenties, she reconnected with her school therapist – a decision that changed her life.

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The reality of body dysmorphia: “I don’t see myself the way others do”

Freelance journalist Millie Milliken talks about her experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder for the first time, and offers an insight into life with the condition.

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What it’s really like living with OCD: “I’m obsessed with the harm I could cause”

“The intrusive thoughts in my head range from starting fires, to causing car accidents, murder and other possibilities I find hard to write, even now,” says freelance journalist, Lucy Donoughue.

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“The surprisingly simple way I learned to live with my anxiety”

“I can’t banish my anxiety, but I can control it. I can tame it,” writes journalist Kate Townshend.

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“How it feels to inherit a mental illness”

From a young age, author Amy Molloy knew mental illness was rife in her family – especially among the women. Yet, by spending her life studying optimistic coping mechanisms, she believes she has finally broken the cycle. Here, she shares what she has learnt on her journey to happiness.

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“How I use video games to curb my anxiety”

Videogames get a bad rap in the media, but countless studies have shown they’re actually really good for our mental health. Here, Stylist’s digital editor-at-large Kayleigh Dray explains how she uses videogames to regain a sense of control whenever she finds herself crippled by anxiety.

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If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, you can find support and resources on mental health charity Mind’s website or see the NHS’ list of mental health helplines here

This article was originally published in 18 May 2018 but has been updated throughout

Images: Getty, Maaike Nienhuis Jose Fontano, Min An, Holly Mandarich, Joshua Rawson Harris, Ev, MMPR, Pawel Kadysz

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