Mental Health vs. The World | Bethan Taylor
Written by Courtney Weston on 9 May 2018
My name is Courtney Weston. I’m a freelance personal trainer and health coach, studying a degree in Music Management. Throughout my life, I’ve suffered greatly with general anxiety disorder and depression, however in 2017, I found myself falling into severe depression and when thinking about suicide became a ten times a day thing, I knew that something wasn’t right. I’ve been on medication ever since, to help me live a ‘normal’ life, however whenever I try and talk about this, I find people still become uncomfortable when it’s mentioned. I’m on a personal mission to try and reduce the stigma that still stands around mental health, one person at a time. In this series, I talk to five women that I met through the fitness industry, both clients and trainers alike, and hopefully, along the way, we can help you understand that you are not alone.
Interview one – Bethan Taylor
Courtney: Hey Bethan! I hope you’re well, and not too stressed about starting your new job! So we know each other briefly through the fitness industry, Instagram bringing people together as always! We’ve never spoken about mental health with one another; so let’s just dive right in. Everybody I’ve met has had different experiences with mental health; let me know a little bit about your own personal struggles.
Bethan: Hey Courtney! New job stress is under control and enjoying it so far, which is great. So, I suffer badly with general anxiety disorder and intrusive thoughts. These days my condition is really under control, but in the past I’ve found life very difficult and it’s really affected my relationships.
Courtney: Amazing that you’ve managed to get it under control, it takes a lot of hard work so it’s really inspiring to hear. When did you realise something didn’t feel right?
Bethan: Thank you! Well, for as long as I can remember I’ve felt anxious. As a very young child I remember finding it difficult to sleep, so I’d tidy my room! I think I thought it’d mitigate any telling off I’d get from my mum for still being up! I also remember having tummy aches when I felt stress, which was pretty distressing. The first time I knew something was really wrong though was at aged 12 when I had an episode at school and was referred to a child psychologist. That was over 20 years ago.
Courtney: Oh, wow! That’s a really young age, and I doubt being referred to a child psychologist at 12 years old helped put your mind at ease. Did it help at all?
Bethan: Well, as seeking help initially was out of my hands, my parents and my school worked hard to get me to see the right people at a local centre of excellence. However, as I’ve got older I’ve naturally taken more responsibility for my care, with varying degrees of success! In the past I’ll admit that I’ve been in a bit of denial and refused to acknowledge that I needed support, which obviously affects how effective any treatment is. However, in the last couple of years I’ve taken real ownership of the situation, and I’ve never felt better. It’s amazing the difference opening up, being honest and owning where you’re at can make!
Courtney: Agreed! Being open and honest, especially to people you trust can do a world of wonder. That’s the main reason I’m carrying out these interviews – to let people that may be suffering in silence understand that there is nothing to be ashamed about. Did you feel ashamed about it?
Bethan: I used to feel ashamed. When you’re in the midst of an episode the world can become a really confusing and overwhelming place and it can be hard to find the reason that you need not to feel shame. There were also a few negative people in my life that compounded that shame. Today I’m open and far from ashamed, anxiety really is just one, minor, part of me.
Courtney: A really wonderful outlook to have! And too right. What is your opinion on therapy and medication? Have you ever tried either?
Bethan: I’ve tried most things, and different approaches have worked at different times. I was very lucky to have access to private talking therapies for around 5 years – a luxury not many people have. Talking had a massive impact and helped me work through some very difficult things in my life at that time. These days I take medication, and that has been life changing. There’s a lot of noise out there about medication and there can be stigma, but I don’t feel any shame, the medication simply helps me lead a normal life.
Courtney: I agree. You were very lucky in that sense. I understand the medication stigma, too! I take Sertraline and it’s really helped me the past year. I’m so proud at how far I have come and I’m not embarrassed to say a lot of my progress has been because of medication, but I also still get uncomfortable reactions when people find out. Are there any specific steps you took that you can remember, to overcome these struggles?
Bethan: My history is fairly complex, and extensive, so it’s taken a long time to work through everything. There’ve been times when I’ve become very frustrated and upset by the process, but it’s been worth it as I’m in a really good space! I do have to keep focused to stay well, anxiety is likely to be something I’ll have to deal with for my whole life, but these days I feel much more empowered when it comes to my care and my options.
Courtney: So wonderful to hear, and at the end of the day it’s all a part of the wonderful and inspiring woman that you have become. How do you feel day to day? Do you find that you still struggle now and then?
Bethan: I’m in such a great place right now! As I said, I take medication each day, and that has it’s own challenges as there are quite a few side effects, but they are worth it as the meds mean I have a much better quality of life than I’ve had before. I have reviews every few months and work hard to stay attuned to how I feel and take steps to make sure my wellbeing is front and centre in everything I do.
Courtney: Of course, health is wealth! So you run a fitness blog, and as I said I know you from the fitness industry, did you find that fitness helped you and do you feel it can help others?
Bethan: Movement is so important to me, something as simple as getting outside for a walk can help me manage a tough day. I am resistant to the idea that exercise is a ‘cure’ for mental health conditions, and mindful that piling on the expectations that go with a training plan can be detrimental if I’m already anxious, so I practice mindful movement and I’ve found that it really helps me tune into my body and wellbeing. I am constantly asking myself questions about how I feel and then working out why I feel that way, it have totally changed how I manage myself.
Courtney: I agree! One last question, if you could tell young you anything about mental health, what would it be?
Bethan: You have nothing to be ashamed of, and you are not alone. Big love.
Courtney: Thank you so much for your time, you’ve come a long way and it’s wonderful to see. I wish you well on your journey.
If you or somebody you know is struggling with mental health, you can find help and more information here: www.time-to-change.org.uk