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.
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