So big title this one. I have touched upon anxiety in past blogs but I thought I would dedicate this blog to solely discussing my journey with it and what I see in the future.
Why I wanted to share this? I felt it was important to voice this because I was really comforted to find other people on the internet going through the same things as I was. I also think there are STILL some misconceptions when it comes to anxiety and other mental health problems. Oh sorry did I say Mental Health. Well, that is what it is and we need to stop being scared to say those words, its 2017 folks.
The main misconception is that people often have this image of what someone with anxiety or someone who suffers from depression looks like. I’m sure my family and friends would use words like confident and loud to describe me sometimes but I do suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and low mood. Mental Health is all the stuff going on in the brain, it isn’t always visible like a broken leg is. Closed minded people who have previously been apart of my life haven’t understood my anxiety and would say ‘you must be faking it’ or ‘you’re making it up’. Honestly, no one would fake this if they knew what it was really like.
Where did it all start?
I don’t think I can really pinpoint specifically where my anxiety started but there are a few things that I think contributed to it. From the age of about 9/10, I have suffered from fainting episodes with no real diagnosis ever. It meant I would faint uncontrollably without notice at least once a day. It meant doing regular teenage things became very difficult, near enough impossible because I would have to do my own risk assessment for myself and whether it would be safe for me to do those things. It made me become quite socially isolated because friends wanted to do things which I didn’t always feel comfortable. Sometimes when I forced myself to do things I would then panic whilst doing them because I was so scared I’d faint and hurt myself or cause a scene. As my fainting has got better I am still suffering from anxiety which obviously sucks but I am working on it.
Panic attacks can be different for everyone but they often include shortness of breath, sweating, pins and needles in your feet and hands, feeling lighted hearted and a fast heart rate. These can happen in any order and are all to do with the fact you lose control of your body. A panic attack is basically the sympathetic nervous system having a moment. A metaphor a therapist once said to me was that I am like those cars whose alarms go off when a leaf falls on it rather than the normal cars who wouldn’t have even flinched. Panic attacks can last from 5 mins to 25 mins and can happen sporadically for a while. The reasons people have panic attacks differ from each person. Personally, situations where I can’t leave, such as a hair dresses or restaurant or dinner with a lot of people. Clubs and crowded places also spark anxiety in me. I sometimes don’t know why I feel anxious and it will just jump and surprise me. Transport is quite a big one for me, I find trains, buses and the tube quite difficult, meaning I really have to syke myself up for these things and have lots of things with me to feel comfortable and pre-occupied. Sometimes a dinner with even 5 people fills me with dread because what if I need to leave how rude will they think I am?
This can lead to feeling isolated because you are choosing not to go out or do things. This is a vicious cycle because getting fresh air and light exercise is actually really good for mental health. It can also make people feel depressed and down. I definitely feel this from time to time. It is mainly that I get down that I gave up and didn’t join in or go out or that I do feel anxious about something I know is silly.
What have I done about this?
I went to see my school counsellor who was really helpful and it worked well into my school schedule. We used lots of techniques such as meditation. However when I left school I couldn’t see her anymore so I went to my GP who wasn’t particularly helpful if I’m honest, they gave me a card with some numbers to ring but also informed me of a 12 weeks waiting list for an appointment. This really put me off and I never rang the number. When I moved back to Guildford this August I found a private therapist who I had four sessions with and I absolutely loved them and I felt positive that I would see a change in myself after the 12-week programme. However due to some financial problems I wasn’t able to continue with these. The waiting list for an NHS therapist is pretty long here too. So in the meantime, I am trying to kick anxiety in the arse on my own.
Kicking Anxiety up the bum!
I have made a real conscious decision to try to stop this getting in the way of my life. It is hard and I haven’t always been successful but I have only just started basically undoing a lifetime of bad mental habits and brain function, so I am giving myself some credit. Surrounding myself with positive people is something I would recommend. People who understand and support you are important to have in your life when overcoming something like this. Petty people aren’t good for anyone but they are just not in my life anymore, I don’t have any leftover energy to waste on people like that. Set goals for yourself but work on them in your own time, don’t set an unrealistic time restraint because it will only stress you out more.
These links have helpful tips, online chat or hotline numbers.
I hope this has helped people or if not then it was interesting for you here about anxiety from someone with it. Even if this helped one of you lovelies to realise you’re not alone then I will be happy.
P.S I’m always tweeting random stuff so follow me @katyelizabeth__ for updates and somewhere to chat if you need to.