Monday, 30 March 2015

Amy on Anxiety

As part of our posts written by people with lived experience of mental health issues, Amy writes about anxiety. Amy has a blog, and you can follow her on Twitter.

For the past three years I have experienced severe and anxiety and depression, resulting in numerous counselling sessions and medication. It’s a long journey of recovery, but I feel I am finally getting to the other side.

I feel it important to battle the stigma surrounding mental health and thus why I have created my own mental health blog, Relief from Anxiety, and why I am writing about it in this blog post.

Anxiety symptoms can be varied from person to person, including loss of appetite, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, and irrational thoughts. Generally, these kind of actions and thoughts occur during a panic attack, when the flight or fight system kicks in, which originates from our caveman days. It helps to either run or fight the situation. Each panic attack is different from others, and there are ways to help you through it, from leaving the situation to breathing techniques. I find that panic attacks often leave me tired and sometimes confused, but whilst under the panic attack, you often find yourself with acute senses and you are more aware of your surroundings.

The general anxiety thoughts can still be present however, without a panic attack. This is the “what if” that you hear in the back of your head. For example, if you suffer with health anxiety, it might be the “what if I eat that food, will it make me ill?” Or if you experience social anxiety, “if I look someone in the eye, what will they think of me?” And so forth. Anxiety comes in different forms, and there are also methods to help you improve, from CBT, which I found most beneficial, to medication, which believe it or not, changed my life. I feel that with being an anxiety sufferer we tend to analyse situations quite well, but at the same time this can be crippling.

There is so much stigma surrounding mental health and with medication too. I tried everything possible before medication, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about my future prospects if I took it. But, the simple answer is this; there is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health issues tend to be an imbalance of chemicals, to which medication needs to sort, just like high blood pressure. It has been a miracle and it has saved my life.

There was once a time in my life, where I didn’t think I would ever find happiness again. From not being able to go to school or leave the house, I have now moved out and I am studying Law at university. I never thought I’d see the day, but I have and because of what I’ve experienced, I never ever take a day for granted. You can do it and together we can keep battling the stigma.

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