Mental Health: What I Wish I Knew Then

For those who are yet to know me, my name is Harriet Broom, but please call me Harri.

Most people know me through being the new girl in primary school, working in the little village from where I have grown up, being awkward and having a crazy fashion sense in secondary school, but most people also know that I am extremely open and honest about my mental health difficulties on social media platforms. Mental health issues are still undeniably the ‘elephant in the room’ so to speak, but I’ll let you in on a secret- we all have mental health. It is when mental health becomes a mental health issue is when it becomes noticeable and therefore brings on the societal convention of being afraid to speak about such a thing. The mere notion that I was going to be susceptible to suffering so much with anxiety was a distant imagination, something I had only envisioned in movies, nothing I would think would become a reality.

Ten years ago, I had just turned eleven, just started BIG school. What would I want to know back then using the knowledge I have now?

Periods suck and so does puberty. Sorry gal, but also know that you won’t have to wear those massive cushions mum gave us for too much longer. Puberty is weird, but it has given us a lot more body confidence and so much more. Relationships and friendships at school are taken at face value, deeper meaningful relationships come later for you. Don’t take your worth based on what you see reflecting back at you in the mirror. Your brain matters, and again, not just the physical organ yet all of those thoughts and feelings inside.

Do you know what an anxiety disorder is? No? I thought as much. Well what school fails to show you is that feeling like you can’t breathe when doing daily tasks is far from normal. The overbearing weight on your chest and shoulders is not something to be dismissed.

Anxiety is nothing to be afraid of, our ancestors used to rely on it to sense danger. But nowadays, we don’t need all the chemicals in our body that cause us the feeling of anxiety like we used to need. Some people have an imbalance of them. But again, please don’t be scared. Just talk to mum about it- she knows most things…apart from comfortable period wear!

Keep making mistakes, shove your hand up in class, because you’ll only mutter the right answer under your breath simultaneously to the answer being given. But most importantly, BE YOU.

I don’t normally sit and ponder about the past, yet having done so I find myself becoming angry over the lack of mental health provision in my area. I never understood when my parents would talk about the postcode lottery, in as much as we become less likely to get help from a service on the basis of where we live. Shame because I was hoping to win the jackpot. But the real jackpot would be for the people around me to be aware of what was happening, have the knowledge to recognise the signs, but most of all- not be afraid of the unknown. Not wince every time I have to declare on a form that I suffer from a mental health condition.

It is not scary. It is not something to be hidden away. It is called Mental Health Awareness.

Read more of Harriet’s work and watch her incredible ‘but I still am’ project via the links below: 

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Mental Health: What I Wish I Knew Then

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