Langford’s Hannah Brown, who set up peer-to-peer support group An Ear To Hear after her own experiences of anorexia, gives her thoughts on World Mental Health Day.

I recently started to read an old diary of mine which I had penned during some of my most difficult of times – times where I was receiving intensive inpatient care for my anorexia and where terms such as recovery, hope and opportunity had become more synonymous to a fairytale than my own life.

“Jan 6, 2012, the beginning of a new start”.

“Jan 9 – thanks for telling me the no trouser rule when I am wearing no knickers”… it was an interesting experience being weighed at 6.30am every morning, stark naked… degrading doesn’t come close.

I guess these feeling of being exposed have been an inherent part of my mental illness. Now, with my perfectly plumped skirt truly down by my ankles, I have decided to make my mental health struggles well and truly front page news.

Occasionally this decision proves to have been the wrong one, having to negotiate tricky comments often said with the best of intentions but causing devastating impacts through my warped interpretation.

Far more commonly, however, is the overwhelming love and kindness shown almost by strangers and of course loved ones, who recognise that – despite everything I do, all the exposure and awareness raising – I still struggle with my mental health. They continue to offer unconditional support that I am truly blessed to received.

Speaking out, has brought a wealth of ‘opportunity’ to my door – a real buzz word in the field of recovery work.

As my recovery continues to organically grow and flourish, I find that I am given more and more opportunities.

The opportunity to live, and develop, both professionally and personally. The opportunity to say yes and, of course, no.

To cry with laughter and joy – but also with sorrow and grief feeling real emotions, raw and true.

Experience new things, to excel and fail (I tried art and craft – not for me!).

To perhaps fall in love, to experience that terrifying senselessness and perhaps even have my heart broken.

Opportunity is simply everything in recovery from any form of chronic illness – mental and physical. By building our resilience to the challenges we face, we give ourselves the continued opportunity to thrive and develop – to be everything that we could have ever of dreamt of. Health is health – mental or physical, there is no room for disparity. Mental illness kills, it brings challenges and terrifying moments of solitude but it can bring opportunity, hope and new dreams.

Don’t dwell, don’t pause but step forward into your own limelight and find your recovery, your opportunity and your hope.

For more about An Ear to Hear visit