Long Reads

Anxiety, depression and OCD: women share powerful and relatable essays on mental health

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
Published
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For World Mental Health Day 2019, Stylist looks back on some of our most powerful essays on mental health, from living with anxiety and depression to tackling body dysmorphia.

A sobering statistic for World Mental Health Day 2019: more than half (51%) of young women are worried about their mental health.

This figure is 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, shows a concerning trend for fears around issues such as anxiety, depression and OCD.

So how does a woman trapped in a vicious cycle of self-blame and denial finally manage to face her anxiety head on, and tame the beast so she can free her mind? Can the simple act of stepping outside and walking among the trees help form a protective barrier against depression? And how does it feel to inherit the mental illness that you saw take over the lives of your relatives?

mental health support uk
Mental health support: remember, you are not alone.

Stylist is proud to publish the following beautiful and moving essays from women detailing how they manage their mental health. While mental ill 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 hear how some of our most powerful writers faced the challenge of mental ill health, from dealing with anxiety and depression to battling insomnia and even their own genetics.

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

“How therapy helped me through my mum’s suicide”
Mental health support: “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.

Read the essay here

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

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

Read the essay here

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

What it’s really like living with OCD
Mental health support: What it’s really like living with OCD

“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.

Read the essay here

“How holding down a job helps me manage my depression”

woman at work
Mental health support: “How holding down a job helps me manage my depression”

After living with depression for years, author Lauren Slater finally found a quiet relief in the structure of building a career.

Read the essay here

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

“The surprisingly simple way I learned to live with my anxiety”
Mental health support: “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.

Read the essay here

“How it feels to inherit a mental illness”

“How it feels to inherit a mental illness”
Mental health support: “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.

Read the essay here

How one woman is beating depression by developing a passion for running

How one woman is beating depression by developing a passion for running
Mental health support: How one woman is beating depression by developing a passion for running

Young women are at a higher risk of living with mental health problems than any other demographic, demonstrating an ever-growing need for support and information on the topic. Here, stylist.co.uk commissioning editor Sarah Biddlecombe talks to writer Jess Noah Morgan about her determination to beat depression – and the surprising outlet that has kept her low moods at bay.

Read the essay here

“I’m an insomniac: here’s why you should never drive yourself to despair over lack of sleep”

woman insomnia
Mental health support: “I’m an insomniac: here’s why you should never drive yourself to despair over lack of sleep”

Writer Deborah Cicurel has suffered with an insomnia since she was a child, but says it may not be all bad news. In this powerful essay, she explains why finding it a challenge to get eight hours every single night may not be such a terrible thing.

Read the essay here

“How I use video games to curb my anxiety”

“How I use video games to curb my anxiety”
Mental health support: “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.co.uk editor Kayleigh Dray explains how she uses videogames to regain a sense of control whenever she finds herself crippled by anxiety.

Read the essay here

“How being around nature helps me manage my mental health”

“How being around nature helps me manage my mental health”
Mental health support: “How being around nature helps me manage my mental health”

As research reveals the benefits of being around nature, journalist Kate Leaver explains why getting outside has always been a crucial part of her mental healthcare plan.

Read the essay here

“What happened when I took an NHS mindfulness course for my depression”

woman mindfulness course
Mental health support: “What happened when I took an NHS mindfulness course for my depression”

Mindfulness can be a powerful practise, and it’s now even prescribed by the NHS. Here, freelance writer Alice Purkiss checks in for a course of mindful cognitive behavioural therapy to treat her depression.

Read the essay here

This article was originally published in 18 May 2018

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

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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter

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