We are supposedly living in a time where mental illness is de-stigmatised and everyone should feel free to ‘speak out’ and express themselves. Everyday I see articles and ‘motivational’ quotes telling me to practice self-care and don’t be afraid to ask for help etc.

This is all well and good, a step in the right direction at least. However, I do find it kind of difficult to swallow sometimes. In real life how good are we at sharing our negative inner dialogue?

How easy is it to sit down with friends, family or work colleagues and have a brutally honest and open conversation about anxiety, or depression, or self harm or suicidal thoughts.

Sharing how we are feeling can make us and others uncomfortable, and I am not sure what the solution to that is.

I am okay telling you that I have enrolled on a course with Healthy Minds to help educate myself on coping strategies to deal with anxiety and low moods. I went to my first group session last week and was pleasantly surprised by what I encountered...

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I walked into a room full of ‘normal’ people; old, young, black, white, fat, thin, middle class, working class, religious, not religious.

It was a room full of life's rich and diverse tapestry and standing there in the old hall I had an epiphany that whilst mildly bleak was also very comforting.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

At some point in life’s arduous journey we will go through periods of intense lows; anxiety and depression is part of the human condition.

I am yet to meet someone who hasn’t been through some kind of mental struggle, it makes sense really, our brains work harder than any other part of us.

We seem to accept our body getting poorly and needing some time to recuperate, but we don’t give our brains the same courtesy.

I am looking forward to going back to the group next week and I’m hoping that by sharing my journey with you we will all be a little bit closer to talking about mental illness in the same way we talk about the common cold.

If you would like to share your experience with mental health with our readers you can contact me on 01905 742258 or Jemma.Bufton@newsquest.co.uk