Until last Tuesday, I had no idea that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Speaking personally, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Seems like a weird thing to say about mental health issues, when is there ever a perfect time! What I mean is, just two weeks ago I was coming to terms with the fact that I’ve been struggling with anxiety for a long time and began to seek help. I’ve seen some photographers opening up on Twitter about their challenges with mental health and it has inspired me to do the same.
For years I’ve carried on, blissfully unaware that the tension I’ve been holding within me isn’t healthy. By constantly striving to be better and to do more, I thought I was just being ambitious. I thought this was normal for anyone chasing their dreams of being a full time photographer, or any job they feel passionate about. Turns out it wasn’t. At least not in the way I’ve been experiencing it. Admitting this fact and seeking help is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
My anxiety often manifests itself through a condition called ‘Trichotillomania‘ (pronounced try-cot-ill-omania). If I can raise awareness of anything during Mental Health Awareness Week, it would be of this disorder. It seems nobody has ever heard of it. As I type, I notice that the word ‘Trichotillomania’ is showing with a red underscore to highlight that the word isn’t even in the Dictionary.
The NHS website describes Trichotillomania (or ‘trich’ as it’s known) like this:
People with trich feel an intense urge to pull their hair out and they experience growing tension until they do. After pulling their hair out, they feel a sense of relief.
I’m lucky in that I only seem to have a very mild form of this disorder. I’m not pulling my hair out from the root, but I do pull on it when feeling anxious, often breaking off the ends. It can be embarrassing when, every time I go to get my hair cut, the barber asks ‘what’s happened to your hair, it looks like you’ve singed it’.
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
All is not what it seems. If we can all be more mindful of the fact that that person who seemed a bit grumpy or up tight might be dealing with some serious issues, I think the World would be a better place. I include myself in this. I’m not using this blog as a platform for preaching to others.
Something I’m trying to work on every day is being more tolerant of others. I have no clue what the people I interact with on a daily basis might be going through. Improving my awareness of this fact will hopefully bring more inner peace for myself too.
Over the coming days or weeks, I’m going to be sharing some things I do to help me manage my anxiety. If this might be of interest to you, please follow along using the ‘subscribe to blog via email’ form.