After realising I couldn’t go it alone anymore, I sought a variety of ways of helping myself to deal with my anxiety and even went to counselling. Despite the negative stigma around it, without it, I wouldn’t have made progress so quickly. It’s one of the main reasons why I want to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues as you should never be too embarrassed to ask for help!
I went to see a counsellor for an 8-week programme. I would visit once a week for an hour and she would help me talk through my anxiety to try and find the cause and what I can do to help calm it. During these 8 weeks, I was able to find some incredible friends at school that really welcomed me when I really needed them. They were a huge part of my recovery process and I honestly cannot thank those girls enough. (BBG Forever!).
Through talking to my counsellor I was able to understand that a huge reason for my anxiety was my black and white way of thinking. I was always aware that I was very black and white when it comes to things. Some people see it as lacking empathy, but I see it as having a set view and a set course of judgement. I have no grey areas which is something I’m working on, it can’t change overnight! I placed too much importance on the things I ‘should’ and ‘must’ do. I’m not one for backing down from my word and I place harsh expectations on myself. This, on some occasions, has been so beneficial to me throughout my life – particularly in academia. I always strive for the top even if the means don’t quite justify the end.
I started yoga and I started openly talking about my battle with anxiety. I think shutting it out when I knew I was suffering was down to the stigma it holds. For some that know me and are reading this, it will be the first time learning I had to visit a counsellor, in addition to the fact that I suffer from panic attacks and anxiety! I thought if people knew they’d think I was a freak. I was scared I would be judged or shamed for it. This is why I want to share this post today. I’m no longer scared. There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding mental illness. Everyone at some point in their lives will suffer from one in some way, even if just to a mild degree.
One of the hardest things for me in it all was other people’s reactions when I would say I felt nervous or anxious. It was always “Oh don’t worry about it” or “What’s wrong with you, you’ll be fine”. Trust me I know. I don’t want to worry, it’s not something I’m choosing to do. Believe me, I’m doing everything I can to not worry. If you have friends or know someone who suffers from anxiety or even so much as expressed nerves about a particular situation please do not tell them to “not worry about it”. You may feel as though you are helping but it aren’t. It’s almost compounding the problem more as you’re making the other person think that being anxious isn’t “normal”. Approach the situation with more compassion: “How can I help?” or “Let’s distract you then, you don’t need to think about it just yet. What are your plans for the weekend?”. These are things that have helped me. Distraction from the situation helps me calm and distract my mind.
Next I’ll be telling you about how I live with anxiety now and how it affects my everyday life. I hope that these posts are helping some of you out there, get in contact with me or comment below with how you feel!