Monday, 12 May 2014

Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (in the UK?)

The lovely Laura brought this to my attention 
by making a wonderful video about mental health and more specific, anxiety 
- the focus point of this MHA-week.

The books I'm familiar with are all in Dutch so it won't do much posting them here,
so I'll just show you some books Laura talked about.

Watch her video:

Some direct links to some of the books she showed:

(More books are below the video on YouTube!!)

Thank you so much Laura for this honest video.
I'm not that brave (yet?) but I'll try my best to write a little bit about myself.

When I was about 15 I started to get really bad migraines. I had to stay home from school a lot and my grades were suffering from it. Chemistry, Physics, German,.. classes I only had for 1h a week were starting to become a constant worry. I was bad at science already and missing those classes made it nearly impossible to catch up and I started to actually fear those 50min. classes. After months of migraines and missing school and various doctors visits, I finally got some answers. My doctor thought the migraines were just "typical for my age". That of course didn't really explain or improve anything. I went to a gynecologist so see if it was something hormonal, and ended up with a neurologist for brain scans.
My parents and I at that point were desperate for answers. Luckily, that neurologist found them. And the problem wasn't in my brain. It was me.
Apparently, I was chronically hyperventilating. This means I don't have attacks where I need a paper bag to breath, I'm just breathing wrong ( = too shallow, so short breaths, only with your chest, not with your belly) all the time... especially at night when my subconsciousness started going over all the things I was worrying about during the day. This made my breathing even more fast and shallow, and resulted in me waking up with a massive headache, blurry vision, dizziness and all sweaty... "migraine". Except it wasn't migraine at all. It was "just me" breathing wrong.
I had a hard time excepting at first that it was ME doing this, that I was making myself sick. I now have to mention my parents again because they were such a great support. I spend hours talking to my mum, figuring out together what it was that made me so anxious in the first place. From that moment on things were starting to get better. I was thought some breathing exercises, but what helped the most was just knowing that there were certain things that "triggered" me. By seeing and accepting that, things started to get better.
I graduated high school with a year's delay and started University. I study the one thing I wanted to do most. I still have moments where my anxiety for all different things: school, personal stuff, get in the way, but there' becoming more and more rare. This doesn't mean that I'm not anxious at all - on the contrary - but for most of the time, I managed to keep my breathing even enough so I won't get (too) ill.
It's not easy to talk about, and it's not easy to deal with. I'm starting a student job at a local supermarket soon: cashier. People keep telling me it's "thé easiest job" and "I'm going to be fine, I'm a university student" (which I find condescending, but that's not the point) but I haven't even started yet and I'm SCARED. I get sweaty and nervous even thinking about it and every time my phone rings, I'm scared it's them to tell me when my first day will be. I want this job because I want to overcome this, and I really want to earn some money myself, but it's NOT easy. 
There are days I'm doing great and days I'm not. I can go from happy and hyper- active to sad and almost depressed in almost a blink of an eye. But over the years I started to get to know myself better and know my 'triggers' and 'traps' and I have the best support system anyone could wish for. (Thank you mum, dad, brother and BF)

Thank you so much Laura for making that video
and talking so honestly about your own experiences.
You're bravery is inspiring :-)


  1. Maryline,
    You are INCREDIBLE. This post has moved me to tears! I am so in awe of your bravery and just want to give you the biggest hug! I can imagine the fear running through your mind at the thought of starting this new job but I promise you that you can TOTALLY do this. It might be a little bit challenging at first and you may have a little wobble but your pure strength and bravery means you'll be able to conquer it <3
    HUGE hugs xxxxxx

    1. Thank you so much Laura <3
      Writing this took a lot of courage and now seeing your response.. Tears!! But good tears - thank you so so much for this <3 Huge hugs back xxxxxx

  2. You are amazing Maryline. I am so proud of you for sharing. Onwards, upwards, reach your dreams xxx

  3. Fab post Mary - you're so brave for sharing your story! I'm so glad you're feeling a bit better now and know how to handle your problems when they get bad. You know we're always here if you ever need to vent or talk anything through <3 xxxxx

    1. Thank you so much for this Jenny - legit crying going on by now - this means so much to me! xxxxxxx

  4. I don't want to make you cry any more even if they are happy or emotional tears but I think that you are really brave. For sharing this, for fighting it, for learning to control it and for following your dreams. I think you can do everything you want and this job is just one more step in your way to do great things! We are all here for you Mayline. xxxxx

    1. You did make me cry even more Alba, but again: good tears. Thank you so much for this <3 xxx Means the world xxxxxx