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Opening Up About My Mental Health - by Charlie Winton

As the founder of a mental health platform, you would think I would be comfortable talking about mental health to everyone who will listen. Well, this is not always the case.

I struggle with my own mental health at times and with the stigma around the topic it can be difficult to open up to people on social media, in large groups or even to friends and family. That said I believe the more open we are when talking about our own experiences, the better because we open up the opportunity for others to share theirs.

I have found this is the best way to reduce the stigma, showing vulnerability so it becomes the norm rather than the exception. I am someone who has OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and this usually presents itself as intrusive thoughts. Put simply, if I am having a great day or I am particularly happy about something my mind likes to think of the worst things possible to bring myself down. This then leads to a feeling of guilt and stress that keeps presenting itself as you cannot get it out of your head.

I have learned over this process that they are just intrusive thoughts and now that I understand them, they have less power over me on a daily basis. This is not to say it has not taken a massive amount of work and effort to get to this point (it really has) and most importantly the help of other people around me. This required me to open up and having done so things have drastically improved.

The love and support of your family and friends should never be underestimated, but we all have a part to play in reducing the stigma around mental health. Sharing experiences, stories and useful clinical techniques all have a part to play and it is our responsibility to do so more often.

Mental health is such a wide-ranging topic and really makes up everything that affects us emotionally in our lives. This is why I have found that small actions are the easiest ways to maintain your mental health so that we can notice uncomfortable thoughts or emotions and not push them away (building into something bigger).

I hope by sharing my experience of OCD and intrusive thoughts will enable others to open up and share their own. It is not always easy or comfortable, but I have found it well worth it.

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