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19 June 2015

Anxiety and Me

19 June 2015
Anxiety and mental disorders on the whole have always been a largely taboo subject, however in more recent years discussions surrounding the topic have grown and our understanding of what they are has increased. This is definitely for the best, although that doesn't mean that there still isn't a vast amount of negative stigma which surrounds mental disorders and those who suffer from them. 

Lets try and change that! The blogging community has such a power influence and voice in the world of today, and with many bloggers already opening up about their mental disorders, it is true that we have the power to positively change perceptions on mental illness.

I know that one person can't change the world, but every little piece of a hugely misunderstood puzzle will help.

So, here is my story.

I've always been a stressed and anxious person. That's just who I am. From as long as I can remember, I've always worried about... well, pretty much everything. It's not good at all, but it's what I've always done. However, once I hit my teens it began getting progressively worse. I can't remember every time it's affected my life - there are far too many -, but it truly began when I was around 14 years old and was getting ready for a trip to Belgium with school. I was up all night stressing, crying, panicking about going, so much so that I missed out. From that moment on, everything seemed to go downhill.

I can't remember how old I was, but I went to the doctors with my mom about my problems and at that time I was in a pretty bad state; however, they refused to give me any medication due to my age and instead suggested counselling. For me, that wasn't an option. I'm not someone who is openly emotional in front of anyone, even my closes friends; so the idea of talking to a complete stranger about my problems - and god forbid getting upset in front of them - was a firm no. 

Fastforward a few years.

(I'm not saying I was fine in these other years at all... it's just that I'm talking about the key turning points in my journey or else we would be here forever!)

In 2010 - while I was in the midst of year 11 and my GCSE's - my dad was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour, and sadly died a year later. In that year, I was a carer in his life and spend my time juggling exams, revision, school work as well as spending my free time being a carer. It's strange, but at that time in my life I was probably the least stressed and anxious that I have been for many years. I think when you're put in a situation like that, you just get on with it. To be honest, I don't think I had any time to be anxious... I was purely focused on my school work and looking after a family member I loved so very much.

A year after his death in 2012, I was all set to take the leap and move away to university. We drove the 5 hours from the Midlands down to Falmouth in Cornwall, and unpacked my room; then, my mom and sister left to go to a hotel for the night and I began my university life.... however, it was short lived. Very short lived. I don't know whether it was a panic attack, or just a huge freakout/stress, but in the morning I just couldn't stay there, and after a lot of crying and talking with my mom and sister, we packed up my stuff and I moved back home.

 It was at that moment that I decided I needed to get some help. 

Almost straight away I went back to the doctors and was diagnosed with anxiety. I agreed to try counselling this time and was also given a 50mg prescription of Sertraline (an antidepressant) to take daily. 

Counselling wasn't at all what I thought it would be, and I definitely recommend giving it a try if it is offered to you. For me, it was less about problem sharing and more about coping mechanisms; and since finishing my sessions as well as taking my medication, I have progressively gotten better.

I dont regret coming back from Falmouth, as it has led to me taking a different path and one which has already given me so many amazing opportunities, but it's safe to say that my anxiety doesn't rule my life anymore, although it is never going to be completely gone. Now, I know how to cope with situations better and how to calm my self down if I start to panic which helps to prevent such major events happening anymore. I did try and come of the tablets a year or so ago, however I began to feel myself getting worse again so I'm back on them now, and think I will be for the foreseeable future. 

At the end of the day, they aren't a high dose and I'd much rather take one little tiny tablet every day, then spend my life feeling bad, stressing and then regretting.

Be open about who you are, mental disorders aren't 'baggage', they are a part of us, and it is far better to talk about/deal with the issues then push them down inside until one day, they explode.

This is just one girl's story. What's yours?

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