I'm no medical expert on anxieties but I have had my fair share of them. People have anxiety issues for many reasons and sometimes you don't even know why they happen and sometimes people who don't suffer have no idea of what that person is going through, how could they?
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression can be closely linked, yet there seems to be such a stigma that haunts sufferers and they never want to admit it publicly.
When I had anxiety issues, I wanted to be a hermit crab or a tortoise. I wanted to crawl inside my shell, away from the outside world. I wanted to be alone. The last thing I wanted to do is draw attention to myself as I wanted to deflect people's attentions as much as possible. I felt like nobody in the world felt as I did, and nobody could understand!
I don't talk about my personal issues often, but maybe it's about time I set an example and broke the mould. Maybe if people felt like they could share these times of issues without feeling they have demeaned themselves, and feeling it was OK to do so, it would help.
At school, I developed agorophobia. I had panic attacks at the thought of being out in the open or in large buildings, was constantly on edge, and the isolation caused me to feel depressed. I was 13 years old, all my friends wanted to go out and about, talking about boys and make-up. I couldn't cope with change.
I remember I telephoned my friend one day, as at first I had good days and bad days and I was prepared to go out. My friend told me we were going on some sort of ramble - a long walk and to wear trainers and trackies but I then changed my mind and said I wouldn't bother going. I was in jeans, boots and had put my make up on and wasn't about to change my outfit. I wanted to cry just because I didn't expect this change. I stayed in and I don't think I bothered going back out with my group of friends any more after that as I started to have more bad days than good.
Not long after that, I started to develop tonsilitis every few weeks and I was highly stressed out. Everytime I suffered from tonsilitis, it got into my blood stream and caused large bruises on my legs and fluid in my ankles. It was painful to wear trousers but I looked ridiculous in skirts. My doctor took blood tests for things like Leukaemia as I also suffered from nose bleeds. Those times were frightening and scared me even more. Eventually I was taken out of school to relieve some of the stress and I attended an EOTAS unit (education other than at school), on a part-time basis.
The panic attacks continued and I left school without qualifications. It took a lot to get me back on my feet, and I have spells now and then when traits re-appear and I have to give myself a good talking to. I don't always want to leave the house, I don't always want visitors, or to chat, but I suppose that now I am a different person - I'm stronger and I know I can get myself out of it - this isn't possible for everyone.
Against the odds, I decided what I wanted and I took it. Maybe it was a bit later than the ordinary person but I did it when I was ready. There are days when I just don't want to go out, or get up, but I do it anyway. I have to now for my kids. I don't think it ever fully goes away and I know when I have had to cope with difficult situations, I can still feel my issues lingering, in the back of my mind.
I suppose my point is that no matter how bad it seems, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you suffer from anxieties just know, you are not alone! I always have it in the back of my mind but the difference is now I cope. Sure, somedays I have days in or a little time alone - everyone needs this!
Five steps of how I dealt with my anxiety
1. I once went on a mental health awareness course and I was taught the seven/eleven breathing technique. Breath in for seven, and out for eleven. The idea is to breath out for longer than you breath in so if you can't manage seven/eleven, try six/ten. This is supposed to calm you down and I've found it worked for me.
2. Write - have a diary or notebook and when you feel anxious, angry or depressed, write it down. Be as irrational as you want!
3. Have someone who you can talk to. This can be a friend or a family member. If you don't have anyone or don't feel comfortable, try mental health charities like Mind. Try to talk and work through your problems.
4. Don't be afraid to go to your doctor and tell him how you're feeling and what's happening.
5. Reward yourself! Everyone likes a reward so plan some things you would like to do that is different, that you wouldn't usually do. When you do it, give yourself a reward - this can be a square of chocolate, a homemade facial, or even a pair of shoes.
I don't expect my ideas to change your life or remove the problem, I just want you to know you're not alone and you can get through it. You should always go to your doctor if it's bad as they are trained professionals.
Let's break the stigma - it's not embarrassing to talk about mental health issues, it's liberating! If you are suffering now you are not alone and it's OK to share your worries. If you have suffered and have came out of the other side, share your stories!
Take care! :)