Mini-series: Sharing Our Stories to Stop the Stigma #7

Okay folks this is the last episode in the mini series for 2015. Thank you so much for contributing to this project whether it was writing a story, offering support or even just reading the blog. Its been amazing and overwhelming and I can’t wait to start again in the New Year. This week features a story that focuses on anxiety coming from someone who is on a year abroad, just like I was only a couple of months ago:

It’s summer 2013 and I’m working an awful customer services job to save up some money before I start University. One Saturday of scanning shopping and making mindless small talk a young looking girl approaches the check-out with a bottle of wine. I ask her for ID and when she nervously states she doesn’t have any I explain I can’t serve her the alcohol and put it to one side. An hour later it’s time for my break, and not remembering the glass bottle I’ve put between the chairs I swing round and knock the wine on the floor resulting in a large amount of liquid going underneath the checkout. That night I’m frozen in terror and unable to sleep as I imagine the store on fire because of my mistake. It’s also around this time I begin to think that maybe, just maybe, I might have an anxiety problem. I’ve always been a very anxious person, prone to worry and threat about the most apparently insignificant detail. However I’ve spent a long time denying I have an anxiety problem because my condition doesn’t manifest itself in traditional ways. I rarely have panic attacks, although sometimes get them, and am able to do things I know would make friends with anxiety recoil with horror. I’m more likely to sit silently, ignore everyone and everything, and fixate on a problem or worry until the point I feel sick. I guess that’s an important thing to note about mental health conditions; not everyone is the same but that doesn’t make anyone more or less valid that someone else. After this summer, I head off to University where I spend the first year as a nervous and socially awkward blob. It’s highly likely that for that entire first year only my professors and one or two token friends actually knew my name. I wouldn’t say my anxiety was a factor in that, I’m just a shy person until I get comfortable with people and I found the whole experience of new people, a new city, and the big step up academically overwhelming. It was strange going from a school of three hundred people, from zero to eighteen, including staff to a university of thirty-five thousand people. Second year things are a bit better, I managed to escape a psychologically abusive relationship and become my own person outside of that and make a wider circle of friends. My grades improved dramatically despite being so much busier with society commitments and working two jobs. Overall I felt like I’d finally settled in to life at the University. Then it was time for my year abroad, and I was suddenly transported away from the support network I’d created for myself. Away from my family, all my friends. I know everyone else on the year abroad is going through the same thing, but for someone who takes a long time to make friends and become comfortable it’s a difficult situation to be in. In the three months since I’ve arrived, surprisingly my anxiety has not been a problem. Aside from two or three panic attacks I’ve not fixated on one thing since I got here. However homesickness and a bunch of other fun things going on here have led to a spell of depression. After about a month of feeling up and down, mostly down, and constantly tired I decided it was time to seek some help. So I approached the universities counselling service. After a month and a half wait I finally got to see somebody, which I know is a good wait time after hearing the stories of what friends have had to go through to get help. It’s really helping. He’s helping me detach myself from my feelings to better understand them so I can change them for the better. That’s something that helps someone who thinks the way I do, and is just one example of so many different options for treatment out there. So I guess my advice is this. If you’re struggling at all, seek help. Tell people. One thing I’ve noticed so much since opening up about my struggles is how many people experience the same thing and how willing they are to help. You are normal. You can be helped. Wait times can sometimes be frustrating, so get an appointment booked perhaps before you realize you desperately need it. I know it’s hard, the very nature of depression means you feel like you don’t deserve help and you don’t want to seek it. However, you really do deserve help and there are so many different things that can be done to help you out there. So if one thing doesn’t work, keep at it.

And there we have it, a great story that shows you are NOT and NEVER will be ALONE in how you feel.

If you would like to write a piece for the next series, please feel free to contact me on completelyrambling@gmail.com or via social media:

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Mini-series: Sharing Our Stories to Stop the Stigma #6

This week’s story is focused on anxiety and how this person has learnt to live a great life despite having it. I hope you can find inspiration and hope from this story.

My story: ever since I can remember, I’ve been on edge and anxious. I’m not sure when it started, maybe around puberty, but there came a point when I realised that life was quite tough, and the unexpected was to be feared.This anxiety has stayed with me all my life and manifests itself in worry, stress and physical outlets like anger and chewing fingers. It’s become part of me. I’ve recently learned that there may be several reasons for the rise of anxiety: bereavement, spoken or unspoken pressure from school or home, through to the possibility of being Aspergic and finding life unpredictable. I think in my case it is a combination of all three. I was lucky to find school work easy, I was lucky to be with a group of friends who were also high achievers. When I left those friends behind, I lost a support network and found life more and more confusing. I used to joke that I peaked too early. Now I see that I was a fish out of water, and a chain of decisions has given me a legacy of anxiety. I deal with it now via mindfulness, yoga and hard exercise, plus dog walking, but it’s always there. Now I’m older and a little wiser, I can see how it rules my life – my tip to you is to find ways of locking it away, rationalising it, being present in the moment so the future does not crowd in. Hypnotherapy, meditation and exercise can all help, and keep talking…tell people that you worry, why you worry and how they can help. Reading the Girl with the Curly Hair blog has made a lot of sense to me and how I think. Make your strategies work for you and good luck x

Thank-you for reading this week’s story. I only have a few more posts left in this mini-series and then I will be taking a break from it. I will still be posting on my blog and the mini-series will be back in the New Year. If you would like to share your story in the next series please feel free to email me at completelyrambling@gmail.com or contact me on social media: twitter is sophrambling & instagram is completelyrambling.

 

Mini-series: Sharing Our Stories to Stop the Stigma #5

This week’s story focuses on social anxiety and depression and how it can affect many different aspects of your life. It also shows how you can find help and make things better. 

I am 17 years old and suffer from social anxiety and depression. 
Having depression makes me feel like I don’t care about anything, and social anxiety makes me care too much about everything, so having both is a bit of a nightmare. 

My social anxiety makes me nervous around people when I’m alone, I can’t ring people, I never raise my hand in class, I won’t eat in front of people (unless they are family or close friends), and I rarely go out. I’ve been mad at myself on so many occasions for skipping parties that I would have enjoyed because I’m just too nervous. If I go out, I often have to drink a bit before I go to soften the nerves and give me that extra push. I hate it. 
My depression tends to make me sad for weeks, or I just feel nothing, almost empty. There are a lot of times when I don’t have any desire to do something that I would usually enjoy, I have no motivation for anything, and it’s hard for me to see the good in anything. It’s hard when people ask me what’s wrong and I genuinely have no idea, or when I’m not talkative and people get bored of me, and sometimes even irritated with me. 

Since this is anonymous I’m going to say that I had a very low moment about a month ago where I went to try and commit suicide, but I was so nervous that people would judge me for being the weird girl who killed herself, and I would be remembered in a judgemental way, so I stopped myself. I guess my social anxiety was my saviour here. 

In the beginning my friends were supportive, and they’d go somewhere with me if I was too nervous to go alone, and they’d just make me feel better in general. 
I don’t really have any friends now, people got bored of having to be there for me all the time, and I can admit that I must have been a bit of buzz kill. So I have felt pretty lonely for quite a few weeks now. But I’m getting there. 

There have been many occasions in sixth form where I’ve cried, as I’ve been too nervous to walk in alone, or too nervous to go to my lesson. Walking into any room alone makes my heart race and my face turn red, because I’m terrified that everyone’s going to judge me. Sitting alone at lunch has been the worst. 
I have also cried a lot because I’ve been sad for ,sometimes, no reason at all, and had to go home. 

My parents didn’t take it seriously for a while after I told them I was constantly down and constantly anxious, until my brother made me go and see a doctor. The doctor confirmed what I had thought. 

Talking to the doctor was hard because I was so nervous but I took a friend a wrote a list of everything I felt, and he went from there. Although my nerves made me cry, it was worth it. 

I now have a counsellor and she’s really nice and even though she’s the only person I really talk to about it, it’s really nice to get things off my chest once a week, it helps me feel better

I have also left sixth form, because being lonely and friendless in a place that made me nervous was never going to help me get better. 

I have been less anxious lately, because I don’t have the worry of school, and I’m hoping to find an apprenticeship somewhere nice. 

When I feel anxious, I often tell myself that it’s fine, and people don’t really care enough to judge me, and that I’ll get through it. I also tell myself that even if they judge me, they won’t even remember what they thought in 24 hours time. It’s hard but I make myself do the things that make me nervous, and seeing that I’m fine afterwards helps me realise that my thoughts are often irrational. I’m working on my anxiety and I think it’s getting better, especially since I got a part time job. 

I haven’t really found a way to help myself feel better in the depression department, but I’m sure I will, and I’m going to seek advice from people in the same boat as me. 

I encourage everyone who suffers from any mental illness to not go through it alone. Just talking to my counsellor once a week has helped me, so if you have a close friend, a family member you’re open to talk to, or even a pet or a diary, letting it out does help.  
Also, take yourself away from ,or out of, any situation that you know isn’t helping you. Or try and find a way that helps you get through it, anything that makes you happy. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. 🙂 
 

If you would like to share your story please contact me by email (completelyrambling@gmail.com). I would also like to say that even if you do not want your story posted, my email is open for anyone that needs to just vent how they feel. Sometimes it is nice just to share it with someone and take some weight off. I will not post your story without consent.

Goodbye November

What a month this has been! Didn’t I say the same thing last month? Probably but every month seems to have its surprises lately.

At the beginning of this month I started my internship and it has quickly been confirmed to me that it is my dream job. I have felt directionless career wise for a long time so I am over the moon to have finally found the profession I want to work in. This internship is giving me such great experience and I have never been so enthusiastic to get up and go to work before!

One of the biggest changes in November was being put on medication. I am currently taking sertraline which has been helping me an awful lot. I have not had a single panic attack since I started taking it and I find myself coping better with my anxiety and depression in general. I still have a long way to go but its nice to feel like I’ve got the ball rolling!

Decorating my room took up several of November’s weekends and we still have a way to go. Seeing as my room hasn’t really changed since I was thirteen and still had crushes on X Factor contestants it has been nice to make some changes. I was even trusted enough to paint the walls and if all else fails I think I could happily do some painting jobs for people!

I am so excited for December as Christmas my favourite time of the year and I have something planned pretty much every day so its going to be a busy one. Expect weekend trips, lots of laughter and a HUGE amount of Christmas cheer! 

If you want to see what I have been up to this month head over to my monthly vlog:

NOVEMBER

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