A business networking speaker has revealed her mental health struggles to raise awareness of rising mental health issues during the pandemic.
Bella Rareworld, whose clients include the Houses of Parliament, o2 Arena, Metro Bank, and NatWest, felt compelled to share her mental health story as issues have escalated for many people during COVID-19.
“Bella decided to take the brave step in revealing that she suffers from bipolar disorder in an effort to increase mental health conversations and break the stigma. By sharing her story she hopes more people recognise the symptoms and will get help early,” said a statement.
COVID-19 has seen a spike in people seeking mental health support services, with the Samaritans providing “emotional support to callers over 1,700,000 times,” since the first lockdown, where “common themes callers express are suicidal feelings included feeling isolated, hopeless about the future, and feeling trapped.”
The workplace has also been impacted, where one in seven people currently experience mental health problems at work. Women suffer the most, with those in full-time employment “nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men.”
While 13% of all sickness absence days in the UK “can be attributed to mental health conditions,” the extent of the mental health problem is clear.
Rareworld said that during times of poor mental health, her business life suffered: “I suffer from short-term memory loss, which means I forget a lot of my achievements, forget my clients, and forget my skills and talents.
“I can also become isolated and don’t want to talk to people. There was a period of my life I isolated myself for over two years, not visiting friends and family, just like a lockdown, which has obviously had a huge impact on my business.”
She added: “Initially, I did not share my diagnosis with my business contacts and colleagues because I was scared that I would be judged. However, I’ve now decided to use my speaking skills to speak up on mental health. I’ve set up a new podcast called Think Tenacity to raise awareness about managing stress and mental health whilst running a business. I want to help other people who are not as brave as me to seek help if they also have mental health issues and to change the culture of the way we view mental health in business.
“The two main things that affect my business daily are mania and depression. With depression, I often feel extremely lethargic and have to schedule a time to sleep during the day. The side effects of my medication also make me drowsy, so I have to schedule zoom meetings at 11.30 am or thereafter.
“When I experience mania, I’m emotionally high and overactive with racing thoughts. During the day, I will experience uncontrollable mood swings and long periods of depression. In my worst depression, I have experienced suicidal thoughts and attempted to end my life.
“I finally feel brave enough to share my story. I no longer feel ashamed to say that I have a mental illness and yes, I’m a suicide attempt survivor. I want to help others who are experiencing symptoms of mental health to be able to seek help.”
You can follow Rareworld on social media by using the hashtag #BellaScooterDay or visit her website here.