Firstly, I just wanted to point out that I am in no way a trained professional when it comes to mental health. Everything that I write below is my personal opinions and experiences.
If you are struggling with your mental health, please seek help from medical professional.
All I am doing here is raising a bit more awareness in the hope that some of my opinions resonate with another person.
Again, a thousand thank yous to those who have contributed towards this.
I’m going to start off with the questions that I received through my stories then will move on to the poll Q&A results.
Q1) When did you first recognise that you had mental health struggles?
A1) In my second year of University is when my being ‘more anxious than normal’ got diagnosed as anxiety. University itself was really tough for me and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well whilst holding down two jobs. Mid-way through my second year we had a separation in my family which hit me pretty hard which is why I sought help from the Uni therapist which changed my life.
Q2) What do you do to help yourself when you’re at your lowest?
A2) As I mentioned in my first blog post, I take back control and get in the kitchen. Recipe creation and the process of cooking really displaces how I feel at the time. Full disclosure, sometimes this doesn’t work.
Sometimes I find that it takes too much of a hold on me and, being brutally honest, I sometimes let it consume me. For me, it can be so exhausting trying to bring myself back from feeling low and anxious, it’s not actually worth it. Let it run its course.
In extreme circumstances like this, I have a long bath and listen to a podcast. Then it’s an early night (which is sometimes 7pm!) and I whilst I try to get to sleep, I sing all the songs from Sound of Music in order in my head.
Q3) How do you cope with men and their mental state if they won’t share their feelings?
A3) I really like this question; however, I’ve never really had to deal with it first-hand. The men in my life are all pretty open about how they feel or have a ‘need to know’ mentality in terms of, they will open up to me if they think it’s needed. I will never put pressure on any person in my life to talk about their feelings, it’s completely up to them.
One thing I would say though, do not get stressed out about it and automatically think it has something to do with you. Everyone is different when it comes to opening up so if this person doesn’t want to speak about his feelings, allow him that privacy.
Q4) Do you think people mistake being anxious with having anxiety?
A4) Every human being will feel anxious at some point in their lives, but that does not mean they have anxiety. I think it’s really easy to get that confused. At the beginning I just thought I was being more anxious than normal but when I started having irrational fears of nothing, panic attacks and found myself not wanting to go out I knew it was bigger than that.
Anxiety is a diagnosed mental health condition with some extreme side effects on both body and mind.
Q&A from poll:
1) Have you ever experienced Anxiety?
I wasn’t shocked by this percentage in the slightest. I was actually shocked at those who said no! My first thought was ‘god you lucky buggers’ – never to ever experience anxiety is an achievement, I think.
2) Do you know why?
For me, the majority of the time I know why I’ve had an attack. But remember there is a difference between where your anxiety originally came from and why you had a specific attack, does that make sense? For example, I know why I was diagnosed with anxiety but I couldn’t tell you why I had my last panic attack. This can be hard to explain to those who don’t have anxiety because they will sometimes assume that a single attack stemmed from your original reasons of diagnosis, so can be confusing. Please message me if you want further explanation on this!
For those who don’t know why you felt anxious, that’s okay. Do not put pressure on yourself and overthink as to why it happened, just focus on nursing yourself through it. Once you’re back a sound state of mind you can think about what caused it, but only if you’re 100% stable as it could send you back in to a frenzy.
3) If you know why, has that helped at all?
Like I’ve said before, everyone is different. I’m so happy for the people who have been helped by the fact that they know, it really is such a lovely feeling to be like ‘Right, I know why you’re anxious. Let’s sort this out!’
For the large amount of people who said no, sometimes it won’t and that’s okay. Just because knowing why you’re anxious isn’t helping, it doesn’t mean you can’t be helped. I remember having a panic attack a couple years back and I knew damn well why I was having it but that didn’t help at all. Find your way(s) of bringing yourself back and then the reason slowly fades.
4) Does anxiety scare you?
It can be scary and as I’ve said before, it’s the uncontrollable element of anxiety that scares me the most. I’m so happy for those who said no and hoping that they can help those who said yes in some way. Those who feel anxiety scares them just remember that ultimately, it’s your brain tricking you in to think you’re anxious when you’re not. It’s YOUR body, it’s YOUR brain – take control back.
5) If you don’t experience anxiety, do you know how to help those who do?
It’s great to see that so many of you know how to help, it’s so important for those with anxiety to have a support network. I wouldn’t know how I would have coped without mine.
For those who don’t, ask them. Ask them what helps, ask them how you can be supportive if they’re going through a hard time. Also, don’t be offended if they say nothing – you reaching out means the world.
6) Do you find talking about anxiety helps?
I know so many people who think talking about anxiety helps and it does for some people, but it’s clear that for some it doesn’t. Maybe tap in to why you don’t like talking about it? If you’ve tried to talk about it and it just makes it worse, fine! It doesn’t work for everyone and I’m sure, and hope, that you have other ways of dealing with it.
7) Do you have a way of dealing with an attack?
It took me over 4 years to really find the most effective method to deal with an attack, you will get there. Trial and error, honestly. I would always suggest to focus on something you love as a form of dealing with an attack. I used to think that yoga helped me but it didn’t. It helped for about 5 mins and then it came back. Cooking and writing recipes, however, just worked for me. Sorry to sound like a broken record but it’s all about getting that control back.
8) Do you struggle to explain your anxiety to people?
So do I. There are people in this world who find it hard to understand a condition because they have never experienced it themselves. Empathy is a really tricky emotion. I know there are people who say ‘Yes, I understand’ when they really don’t, but that’s not their fault.
Now when people ask me what anxiety feels like I just say ‘It’s having an irrational fear of nothing’. The majority of people who I’ve said that too look at me with this ‘omg you poor thing’ look, yes it’s a tad patronising, but I know they understand just that little bit more.
I think that’s enough for now!! A pretty heavy blog post but really hope that a little more insight can help in some way. Sorry if it’s riddled with grammar errors, I never said that I was a smart cookie at Uni!