Let’s talk about Anxiety
Anxiety sucks. But what sucks more is feeling like you can’t talk about it.
For many people it is a huge part of their life, so why do we feel like we need to hide it away and never speak about it?
Social norms? Fear of not being normal or not fitting in? For me it has been a range of things.
I have always been an extrovert. You are likely to see me on a night out talking to everyone and dancing in the middle of the room, drink in hand and busting out some classic 80’s choreography. To be completely honest, I didn’t want to ruin this image of myself, or have people not think I’m fun.
What I’ve realised however, is that being brave enough to talk about your mental health is so much more than being ‘fun’. It doesn’t take away from who you are as a person, it makes you amazing and strong and an all-round incredible individual. Quite frankly, anyone who shames you for talking about your anxiety, or makes you feel bad for it, doesn’t deserve to be in your life anyway.
I would be an absolute hypocrite if I preached about Mental health and the importance of talking about things if I didn’t talk about my own, so hopefully this post does two things:
1 – Lets you all get to know me a bit more and see that anxiety is so varied and personal. There is no clean-cut definition of how someone experiences it.
2 – Helps even one person to realise it’s okay to talk. It’s not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.
Before I started this post I felt it was important to do some research on other people’s experiences with anxiety. Through doing this, I met some absolutely AMAZING individuals who have all had their own unique battles and felt brave enough to tell me about it. Honestly, this was the most emotional part of planning this post. It was so inspiring to read the things these people had faced and to learn from them and take on board the ways that they cope with it (I’ll come back to these strategies later).
For me, researching other people’s experiences was so important, given that anxiety, the symptoms you have, the ways you handle it, how it effects your life and how you cope can vary so much.
For those who are interested, here’s a little bit about my anxiety:
As I said, I come across very social and confident. I’m a dancer so have grown up on stage and wouldn’t bat an eyelid at performing in front of others. My anxiety tends to centre around me over-thinking, over-analysing situations and just generally being anxious about how I look, if people like me, if I’m making the right choices etc etc.
When it’s at its very worst I won’t be able to go out. I’ll cancel plans and then stress about how flaky I look to the point it makes me sick. I will cry hysterically in the mirror and ignore messages on my phone for days on end for fear of replying the wrong thing and I will push people I love out of my life because I’m scared of making the wrong choices and not being happy.
At the other end it will effect little things like feeling the need to wear a jumper even though it is boiling because I’m having a ‘fat’ day, drinking too much when I’m out to try and fit in and getting insanely nervous before phone calls or meetings.
Whilst at Uni I honestly just lived with it, I figured if I kept myself busy enough or went out enough I would be fine. Fast forward a few years and 100 mistakes later and I have finally realised I should probably do something about it.
Now, that is just my experience. Everyone’s experience is completely different and so personal to them. One of the amazing people I spoke to throughout my research, labelled lockdown as something that has recently triggered their anxiety. They explained that they rely on physical affection from their partner and this has been really tough for them to not have over the last few months. Another said their anxiety started when they were 13. Although they had always been a social person their anxiety began at school when they were not seen to be academic.
The point I am trying to get across here is that anxiety manifests itself in so many ways in so many different people. Your feelings are valid no matter how big or small you think they may be.
If you, in anyway feel anxiety is something you are struggling with right now I can promise you talking about it helps so much. Talk to a friend, a parent, a counsellor, a therapist, honestly anyone at all you feel comfortable chatting to. It is one of the strongest things you can do.
One of the major perks of talking about your anxiety is that you tend to meet people in the same boat as you who have some pretty great coping strategies.
Below I have listed a few that people have recommended to me:
- Podcasts and Music
- Exercise, sleep and healthy eating
- Talking to friends and family
- Talking to people online (groups such as gals who graduate are FAB)
- Using online services such as YoungMinds and Samaritans
- Books such as ‘The life changing magic of not giving a f**k’ and ‘The Chimp Paradox’
- Self-care (cliché I know but never underestimate the power of a Bubble Bath)
- CBT Therapy and Counselling (Free via NHS)
This being said, just because one strategy works for one person does not mean it will work for you. We are all different and unique in our own way and our methods of coping should be exactly the same.
If you are struggling with your Mental health and are worried about your wellbeing, please do contact a doctor for more advice.
I know this has been a bit of a long one, so thank you if you’ve stuck with me. As you can probably tell, this is something I feel massively passionate about.
Me and my anxiety are in an ongoing battle, but one that I will eventually win. Regardless of my anxiety I am still me and it does not take away from that, nor does talking about it.
So please, if you are struggling, reach out to someone and talk.
Mental health is not taboo and should not be hidden away, it makes you one hell of a person to open up about it.
As always, if you want to chat drop me an email (don’t know if you can tell from this post but I can ramble on very easily…)
Stay smiling and stay strong, you’ve got this.
All my love,