World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health day, so I wanted to write this post to share with you my journey with mental health. I have previously touched on how I suffer with mental health, but I will be writing how I have previously suffered, how I overcame this and how I am doing now. Remember I am only writing about my mental health there are so many other different types and everyone deals with them in their own way and I am not giving advice for how you should handle your own mental health.

It’s very clear to me that the main thing I suffer with is anxiety. Anxiety is a surprisingly common thing and it’s astounding the amount of people that will relate to you and say ‘Me too’ when you speak to them. I have suffered with anxiety for quite a few years now, not that I always knew what it was.

When I was in my teenage years, I’m not afraid to say, that I was always that ‘fat friend’ (I hate that term but you know what I mean), and I was a very quiet and nervous person. I would try to keep myself to myself in secondary school, I barely spoke to anyone because there were always those horrible people that pointed out my weight. This made me a very very closed book and when, on the rare occasion, that I did go out with friends, I would spend hours and hours trying to make myself look good to try and make myself fit in. I lost count of the amount of times I would panic and not want to go because I would feel like I was being judged, and I would just stay in and over analyse everything about myself. I now understand how silly all of this is and that your body is what makes you and that real friends will still be with you no matter what you look like.

Once I got my first real job, my anxieties seemed to calm down. I was making so many new friends who were such a positive influence on me, I was busy and I had such a good social life.

When I found out that I was Gluten and Lactose intolerant, I would become so anxious about every morsel of food that would pass my lips. I was so scared to eat food that I had not prepared myself in fear of getting ill. This took me months and months to overcome and I am now a lot more relaxed. I obviously still ask questions all the time but it does not consume my mind 24/7.

My anxieties started to return as soon as I quit my job and took a massive risk in going back to university. I felt like I had gone back to school again. I was so nervous about what people would think of me, if I would make friends, if I would fail, if I made the right decision. In the second week of the first semester, just after we had been given a lot of new assignments and a lot of new information had been thrown at me, I went into the toilet at university and had a panic attack. Previously I had only had panic attacks at home so in a new environment and a totally different city, it made me panic so much more.

Luckily, I made some really good friends at university and throughout the next few months we grew really close and I managed to open up about my mental health. This was a first for me as I have never told anyone else before this, just suffered in silence. If any of us were struggling, the other two would be there to pick them up. It was finally nice to meet people that understand whats going on in my head.

However, when December came and everyone was busy with family, events, travelling, I spent a lot of time at home in my bedroom by myself. I became a closed off person again, I would constantly analyse everything people said to me. I had friends asking me to go out and see them and I would give them a terrible excuse not to go and just lie in my room and feel sorry for myself.

When I finally got convinced to go out on New Years Eve, I got to the pub and instantly knew I didn’t want to be there. The room was full of people and I just felt like the walls were closing in on me. I bought myself a glass of wine and went to sit in the garden on my own just to get some air. It probably took me about another 2 hours of this cycle of me to try and socialise then go back outside, for me to decide that I needed to go home. This was at 11pm and as soon as I got home I felt such a comfort.

It was that situation that made me realise that I had a serious issue. I went to the doctor just to make sure that I was physically okay and after a chat with them, I was told I have a mild social anxiety. They gave me loads of tips for how to overcome this, none of which really helped me. I found the best thing for me was to go for baby steps, just slowly start to go out with people again. Going for a coffee, popping to a friends house for dinner etc. I just tried to push myself out of my comfort zone once everyday. This could’ve been anything from making a phone call to a friend or going to the shop and chatting to the cashier.

Fast forward to now, I am a lot better at managing my anxiety. I have a job this year that is constantly pushing me to talk to people, arrange meetings and believe in myself a lot more. I will admit, a few weeks ago I had just started my job properly, I had been given all of my new assignments and I wasn’t sleeping very well. I had a moment when I became very overwhelmed with everything that I had taken on and thought I was in over my head. However, I sat down, wrote a list of everything I needed to do and made sure I had a night off work and stress to try and get myself feeling more like myself again. I am so aware of how quickly my mental health deterorated last year, that I am determined not to let the same happen to me again. I know the warning signs, I have had the confidence to explain everything to family and friends who have been a massive support to me.

Mental health means different things to different people. Although my case may seem very mild compared to some, it doesn't mean that my story doesn't matter.

Mental Health is just as important as physical health!

1 comment

  1. this is very brave! thank you for posting!
    I wrote something about this too. tell me what you think.