October 10th 2017: World Mental Health Day
A day dedicated to fundraising and raising awareness about mental health, breaking down stigma’s and speaking out about the reality of our illnesses.
Roughly around this time last year I was diagnosed with depression which had a huge impact on my life, it changed everything about me but it also brought me to creating my blog. I’ll link my story with depression here. Something I don’t think I’ve really spoken or written about is anxiety and considering I’ve dealt with it for as long as I can possibly remember, I guess today would be the day to speak about it.
What is anxiety???
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): feelings of unease such as worry or fear that can be mild or severe – NHS. OR: Regular or uncontrollable worries about many different things in your everyday life – Mind.
Social Anxiety Disorder: extreme fear or anxiety triggered by social situations e.g parties, workplaces or any situation where you encounter others – Mind.
I’ve dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember, I’d say I was anywhere between age 13-15 when I first noticed it but I didn’t know what it was. I had the typical symptoms like increased heart rate and sweating and I think my dad was the first person I’d mentioned it to. He said it sounded like anxiety but he didn’t really explain what that meant so I guess I just ignored it for a while. As life went on, I learnt to understand what it was and how it worked for me. I realised it was based on my thoughts or worries or anything that made me feel nervous. I would have anxiety meeting new people, going to new places, interviews or exams, talking to people I wasn’t very comfortable with etc. I never went to a doctor or really told anybody about it because it really just became a part of me and I learnt to live with it.
The only time I had any help with my anxiety was when I was diagnosed with depression. I was taking anti-depressants for a few months which also helped make me feel less anxious and considering I no longer take any medication, looking back now I see how much it really helped. Anxiety affects me literally everyday and back then, I was anxiety free for months! Having depression and anxiety at the same time is the equivalent of having a devil and an angel on your shoulder. Depression meant that I didn’t care about anything, the world could pass me by and I wouldn’t have cared but anxiety was a constant reminder of everything I should have been worrying about – a mental battle. At times when I would be quite stressed out or have a lot going on, I’d wake up in the morning and my instant and first thoughts would be me worrying. Whether it was an upcoming deadline, a family issue, bills I had to pay or my incomplete but urgent to-do-list, I’d be thinking of it. First thing in the morning – anxiety.
Lately my anxiety has been extremely social and situational based. I developed social anxiety almost a year ago at a time when I had a lot going on. It started with university and I never wanted to go in, I honestly feared seeing people I knew or being around so many people. I’d avoid it at all costs and if I ever had to go, I’d go at a time when I new it would be quiet and I’d be in-and-out as fast as I possibly could. I was dealing with a situation that everyone seemed to think they knew about. At that time my stress, my pain and my problems was simply everyone else’s entertainment and gossip and I hated that. I just wanted to hide from everyone and I guess that’s where my social anxiety started.
Recently, my anxiety has been fuelled by all the recent and frequent incidents and attacks happening. I never used to live in fear and I always said I wouldn’t but it’s becoming harder not to. Acid attacks, bombs on trains, vehicles mounting pavements – I never used to think “tomorrow isn’t promised”, I just never thought like that at all but unfortunately, those are some of my everyday worries now. I hate to think that anything could happen to myself or a loved one and it makes me feel uneasy knowing there are people I’m not on the best terms with right now.
Mental illnesses are real. There is so much stigma that surrounds mental health, a lot of disbelief and a lot of downplaying, but as someone who has experienced mental illness I want to speak up and encourage others to do the same. When I was diagnosed with depression I didn’t actually speak to people about it for a while because I didn’t think I’d be taken seriously. A lot of people don’t understand it because they can’t see it and it’s not always easily explained. If someone breaks their leg, you can physically see the problem but if someone asked me to explain depression I wouldn’t know how to. Be kind, be sensitive and be as understanding as you possibly can. If you don’t know, aim to educate yourself. It’s okay to ask questions, as long as they’re not asked in an insensitive or malicious way.
If you have experienced mental illness, I encourage you to speak out. Feel free to comment below! If you want to share your story or know more about mine or just have any general questions but want to stay anonymous, you can email me at email@example.com or simply fill out my contact form.