This week is mental health awareness week and this is something that is honestly very close to my heart. I for years have suffered with mental health problems and so have many of the people around me.
I first remember having anxiety at around 10 years of age. I was overweight and badly bullied for it. Going anywhere that I thought people would look at me would stress me out to the point where I would avoid going. I wouldn’t go out with kids my own age and I struggled to make friends. Even at such a young age I didn’t feel like I could tell my mum how I felt. I grew up in a family where any problem was met with the response of just get on with it. So I did. I knew what my mum would say and I just carried on life as if nothing was wrong.
However things just escalated. By the time I was 13 I was making myself sick so that I didn’t have to go to school. By the time I was 15 I was having regular panic attacks. Things didn’t get better by pretending nothing was wrong. It wasn’t until I was sitting my exams and my mum witnessed me having a panic attack that I finally sought help. Being told I had anxiety was a different feeling than I could have ever imagined. Knowing that what I felt was something that so many people experienced made me realise that it was okay to be honest about it.
I was put on beta blockers to help control my panic attacks and was sent to see a therapist. Over the years I have seen many people about my anxiety. This first therapist I saw however was not the one for me. I remember leaving my first session in tears feeling more anxious than ever. I feel that when talking through your own problems the most important thing is finding someone you feel comfortable to talk to. It definitely took me a few years to find someone I was comfortable talking to and once I found that person the open conversation really helped.
Fast forward to now and I still have anxiety. I still have days where I struggle to leave my flat and the thought of associating with anyone makes me sick to my stomach. Those days however, are becoming more spread apart and fewer in number. I can tend to bring myself out of the low mood quicker than I’ve ever been able to. Alongside this I am so much more open about my anxiety. If I have a bad day I will tell my friends that my mood might seem different or even that I wont make it out at all. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by friends that understand that my mood can’t always been controlled and that just because I am around them doesn’t mean I am going to be automatically happy.
Being surrounded by people like this has made a huge difference about how I feel. I don’t feel ashamed about how I feel, I can openly discuss it with my friends and family. This for me has been a huge step. Accepting that anxiety is part of my life and not something that should be hidden took a huge weight off my shoulders.
So whether you are struggling yourself or someone you know is, just remember it’s okay not to be okay and there is help out there. Below is some contact details for different organisations that can help.
Samaritans; 116-123 (free helpline) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mind; a charity organisation close to my heart, 0300 466 6463 or mail email@example.com