“Through trial and error I have finally learned what I need to do to maintain my wellness” – Angela on how self management has changed with age.

We are delighted to present the first post in our Age and Wellbeing series from writer and mental health activist, Angela McCrimmon.

How has changing age affected my mental wellbeing?……..Getting older is a privilege denied to many and there have been a few times in my life when I didn’t think or even want it to happen. However, here I am at 41 years old and I couldn’t be more happy to be this age. Some of my friends took turning 40 really badly, whereas I jumped up and punched the air thinking, “Yes! I made it, I’m still here!”.

With age I would say that it has brought a lot of self awareness around my mental wellbeing. It’s been a long journey to learn how to self manage my condition but through trial and error I have finally learned what I need to do to maintain my wellness. The main one being always take time out for myself to write. Get those thoughts out of my head and onto paper before they grow arms and legs and put me in danger of self-sabotaging my health.

If I could magically go back to 16 again, would I?…..absolutely not! Some people might say yes because they could go back and know how not to make the mistakes they’ve made in life but it’s my mistakes that have made me the person I am today. I can see now that if things hadn’t gotten so bad I wouldn’t know how it feels to feel this good because I wouldn’t know any different. My mental illness was starting to emerge around this age so it’s another reason I wouldn’t want to go back to that age. I was in a constant battle with myself trying to cope with the extreme highs and lows whilst trying desperately to make sure nobody noticed I was actually drowning. I did well in school but even now when I pass my old high school where I was at 16 I feel physically sick because I know the anxiety that ate me up to perform at the level people expected of me in that building. The fact that at 41 I can still feel the dread of being near my High School only confirms I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to being that age.

What would my 16 year old self say if they could see me now?….Probably something like “You go girl!!” because she’d be so proud that I found my way out of the darkness and never ending rollercoaster that I thought would be my life forever. She would encourage me to stand up for myself and others and to help people learn about the reality of living with a mental illness but also that you can always rediscover hope. She would simply be so happy that I’m still part of the world and not only that, trying my best to make the world a better and kinder place.

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