World Mental Health Day is 10th October 2018 and I’m delighted to be teaming up with Kalms once again for this post. If you’d like to read my previous post in partnership with Kalms, check out the link below.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that mental health is something that I talk about a LOT and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health is something I’m VERY passionate about.
Despite 1 in 5 people suffering from anxiety, the causes and symptoms of anxiety are still not widely discussed.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety triggers vary from person to person. For example, I find that my anxiety is at its worst when I’m in an unfamiliar situation or when I haven’t had enough sleep.
Some common anxiety triggers could be:
- Long working hours
- Financial pressures
- Losing someone close to you
- Feeling lonely or isolated
- Past Experiences
Spotting the Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety isn’t just psychological – it can physically affect the body too. Some of the most common psychological symptoms are worry, spinning thoughts and being unable to sleep due to a racing mind. Some of the most common physical symptoms are a racing heartbeat, nausea, headaches and muscle tension.
I personally find the physical symptoms to be as bad, if not worse than the psychological ones but everyone’s experiences with anxiety are different.
So many people attribute these symptoms to simply “having a busy lifestyle”. As a result, they don’t seek the help they need and carry on suffering in silence. It’s so important to recognise the symptoms of anxiety both within yourself, and in others.
My Experience with Anxiety
I started to become more aware of my mental health when I was at university. During my second year (2011-2012) I found myself struggling to motivate myself to carry out day-to-day tasks. I didn’t want to leave the house and I was struggling to complete my coursework. All I remember is staring at a blank page on Microsoft Word. Even on days where I actually managed to write a few words, it was far from my best work.
I was so lucky at my university, as there was brilliant mental health support available. My supervisor was really understanding, and the Open Door Team helped me to understand what was happening and helped me to work alongside my department to get an extension on the coursework I was struggling to complete. For the next few years, after the support of my university and good friends I managed to get my life back on track and really enjoyed my final year at York.
Fast-forward to 2014 – I ended up having a really negative experience in the job I was in. I was working in a toxic environment and I was under a lot of undue pressure and stress for a really poor wage. Eventually it took it’s toll on my mental health and I ended up having to take 6 weeks of sick leave. Unfortunately I was unable to go back at all.
I was really lucky in that I quickly received a job offer from the firm I work for now so I wasn’t out of work for long. However, since that negative experience “triggered” my anxiety and for a long time my mental health continued to suffer and I found it increasingly difficult to cope with in my day-to-day life. I didn’t want to socialise or do anything that wasn’t 100% necessary e.g I would DRAG myself out of bed to get to work, come straight home and get back into bed.
After a few months of this, I decided to get some help via my GP. She prescribed medication to help with my mood and the physical anxiety symptoms I was experiencing. At this stage I also requested access to counselling services, as the one-to-one support I had previously had at university had been really helpful.
I was told (in February) that I would not be able to have my initial consultation until at least May. After that, it could take another few months before I allocated a counsellor. At this point I was in a really terrible state and I felt I required urgent help. Waiting a minimum of 3 months simply wasn’t good enough.
Fortunately, between myself and my family we were able to afford access to private counselling services. Let me tell you – it was not cheap but it was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. I saw my counsellor on a weekly basis from February 2017 until around November 2017. I’m not by any means “cured” but through counselling I learnt some amazing coping strategies for managing anxiety and how to pin-point triggers before things get too out of hand.
I’ve learnt first-hand just how under-funded Mental Health services are and I want to use my platform as a blogger to raise awareness of not just mental health in general, but just how under-funded services are and how much still needs to be done.
I was fortunate enough that I could afford to access private healthcare but I know most people are not in this position. It really does make me angry that those in need are continuing to be placed on never-ending waiting lists.
If sharing my own experience with anxiety helps just one person reading this – it’s been a story worth sharing.
I’m very excited to be hosting my first EVER giveaway on my blog! This has been a long time coming and I’m delighted to be hosting it with my friends at Kalms.
What Do You Win?
One very lucky winner will get:
- A Kalms journal
- A Kalms journal pen
- A copy of Fearne Cotton’s “Calm: Working Through Life’s Daily Stresses to Find a Peaceful Centre” book
How Do You Win?
It’s SO easy. All you have to do is leave a comment under this blog post with tips on how to help raise awareness of anxiety. You MUST use the hashtag #LiveLifeReady or your entry won’t be counted. For example: ‘Talk to your friends to make sure they’re ok #LifeLifeReady’
You can enter until 30th October 2018 and there are opportunities to gain a few extra entries too!
I can’t wait to hear all of your tips.
Good luck everyone!