Sunday, 3 July 2016

Anxiety // Guest post

I've never had anyone guest posting on my blog before (except for when my mum tells me what she likes about a product and makes me write the post...) but today, my lovely lil' friend Rachel is here talking about her experience with anxiety. We both feel that talking about mental health is SO important, and I'm excited to give her a platform to do so.


"With it coming up to 6 years since I was first diagnosed with anxiety I wanted to share my experience in the hope of changing perceptions, even if it’s just one person. I have always been anxious even as a child, being worried of doing little things that other kids weren’t. I was afraid I was going to feel sick when I did anything out of routine, so even the thought of feeling sick made me feel sick. At the time I didn’t realise that the nausea was anxiety; I thought I was physically ill. At the beginning of year 10 my anxiety got worse and I began coming home from school early and taking days off as I still thought I was physically ill; feeling sick, light headed and tight chested. This is when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and referred for CBT. When I think back to that first referral, I had no understanding of anxiety which shows the lack of education surrounding mental illness for young people. With 8 months of CBT I began to understand what anxiety is and started to do more things, facing my anxiety in situations I never believed I could face, realising that I wasn’t physically ill and that being worried and anxious was making me feel this way.

I was never 100% better; although I was seen to be improving this was because I was pushing through my anxiety even though I still felt it every day. I now understand that I have been suffering from generalised anxiety disorder – this means I don’t ever switch off from worrying from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep I’ll be worrying about something. It’s exhausting. I constantly feel a higher level of anxiety than “normal” every day, which in certain situations may be increased to very high and sometimes turns into panic attacks. I don’t think I’ve gone a day in 6 years without feeling anxious.  



This year my anxiety got a lot worse again, making it extremely difficult for me to attend university - especially labs which were a huge portion of my course. After pushing through my difficulties until Easter break this year, I finally decided Chemistry was not the course for me and decided to leave the University of Liverpool. I plan to transfer to the Open University, starting there in September. After what feels like the hardest year of my life and one the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, having some time away from university has made me see how much it affected so many aspects of my life. I know I have made the right decision for me.

It’s taken a long time but I now accept I will never get rid of anxiety: it is a part of me. I am on the waiting list for another 12 weeks of CBT and I hope that this will help me to learn to cope and deal with my symptoms of anxiety so it doesn’t take over my life as much as much as it has been. I don’t feel as though I’m in a position to give advice to people with anxiety as I still don’t feel I’ve found the answers to cope with it myself. But what I can say is that the most invaluable thing is to surround yourself with people that care about you and that you care about. Anxiety can be debilitating, but I am so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing family and friends, especially my parents who support me through my most difficult times and never say my anxiety is too much for them. I will always be grateful to them for this because without them I wouldn’t have even got to university in the first place, let alone manged to stay for a year and a half. 


If you can be there for someone with anxiety or any mental health difficulties when they need you that can be the biggest help as there is nothing worse than trying to face your mental health difficulties daily, at the same time as feeling alone. Anxiety is so difficult to understand, especially to those not suffering with mental health problems, so to have someone that listens, supports and cares even if they don't fully understand what you're going through, is really helpful.

I now have the whole summer to look forward to working in a lovely cafĂ©, with some lovely people, and a holiday with my family before preparing myself to start the Open University. If this year has taught me one thing it’s that the most important thing in life is to be happy with what you’re doing. No degree or exam or job is worth it if you aren’t happy, and I’m slowly starting to feel happy and positive about what the next year will bring."

Thanks for reading, guys - I know it's a bit of a long one, but it's important so I'm not going to apologise for it!

 

2 comments:

  1. I know how you feel! I have OCD and emetophobia. Although I don't have GAD, my mental illnesses make me worry a lot about being sick, contamination and germs. I know how debilitating anxiety in any form can be. I am glad to hear CBT helped you out a bit and good luck studying with the open university xx

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  2. You're very brave for sharing your story! I have anxiety too and I had no idea what was happening for a long time, there really needs to be more education on the subject. Thanks for sharing x

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