Blog: Julie – how the stress of physical illness can affect mental health

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Today is Stress Awareness Day. Being under pressure is a normal part of life, but factors such as poor physical health, can result in stress affecting your mental health.

Julie is our new Corporate Fundraising Manager – in this blog, she talks about her personal experiences and why she feels so passionate about raising funds and awareness for Mid & North East Essex Mind:

“I have been very fortunate to have mostly been in good health, both physically and mentally during my life, however in 2017 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Following an operation, 15 sessions of radiotherapy and a year of physical recovery I was deemed as NED.  NED for those who have never heard of it, like me when I first read it on my results sheet, stands for no evidence of disease.  Hooray, I was cured, it was all over, so why did I feel so awful? I should feel elated to be alive, I’d survived, so why did I feel so low, unhappy and crying all the time?

Little did I know I was experiencing an emotional breakdown, my body may well have been disease free, but my mental health had taken a huge battering.  Having never experienced anything like this before I really didn’t understand what was going on, or how to help myself to feel better.  I just knew that something wasn’t right and following, a then regular outburst of tears at work, I was sent to see my GP. 

A self-referral to Health in Mind was prescribed by the Doctor who was very understanding and suggested it best for me not to be at work until I was feeling better.  Working for the hospital charity to raise funds for a new cancer centre wasn’t helping the situation.  Thanks to a fantastic therapist and six sessions of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) I was able to recognise that I had put myself in a protection zone mentally whilst going through the cancer treatment and not really considered what was happening, then once it was all over the realisation of what I had been through sank in.  My analogy was, feeling like a helium balloon at the end of the party which has lost all of its helium, is now flailing around on the floor and nobody knows what to do with it.  You don’t really want to throw it away, but it’s lost its purpose.

I am pleased to say that the helium has been replaced, a few life changes have occurred and I have a new job as Corporate Fundraising Manager at Mid & North East Essex Mind.  I am delighted to be a part of this fantastic team and hope to be able to, not only raise valuable funds for all the services we currently provide but also to provide more specialised services in the future.

Because I have realised that mental health is just as important as physical health and by raising awareness of this, we can hopefully help a growing number of people to recognise when they may need some assistance before their situation becomes a crisis.”