Story 2; Panic attacks and Anxiety disorder, what’s that?

Thank you everyone who’s read my recent posts, approached me and spoken to me about my blog, messaged me… It’s been so nice to know people have read and somewhat understood a glimpse of what I was trying to say. It’s still weird me writing a blog and especially the theme and it being so personal but it’s with the intention of making sure people know that, it’s not just them and mental health is more common than we think…

So, I’m back at uni now, and after the fab response from everyone about my first story, and all it’s different parts, I’ve chosen to move onto the next story which I think might be familiar to more people.

“Anxiety makes you feel pushed away and alone”

What is anxiety and panic attacks?

I’m sure most people are familiar with the term ‘anxiety’ and use it in a lose way frequently, when feeling nervous about something like collecting results etc. Thinking about it though, what even is anxiety? When it’s labelled a ‘disorder’ it becomes a lot more serious. Do you ever get really worried about something? Or like, apprehensive that something, even if it’s the smallest thing, is gonna go wrong? All these fears and worries manifest into something bigger and make you so worried and conscious of everything you do, they affect your physical health too but most importantly, your mental stability. Anxiety is the severe fear or restlessness of something going wrong or worrying that is affects your daily life. A panic attack is a form of a physical expression of anxiety (anxiety attacks). Apparently, everyone has at least 1-3 panic attacks in their life at anytime, anywhere. The question is though, how do you know it’s going to happen to you? The thing is, you don’t. Similar to other mental health conditions, it’s invisible but when it happened to me, I noticed…

When I was about 11/12 in year 7/8, I used to have really bad panic attacks and I’m sure some of you guys that I went to school with will remember. They used to last hours, and I would have no idea what was going on and wouldn’t remember anything after it had happened. Being so young as well, I was so confused as to what was happening to my body, why my breathing was so heavy, why my legs were like jelly, why I was shaking and dizzy, feeling like I was going to die? It’s such a weird sensation. I would be fine, and would be anxious that I was going to have a panic attack which meant, having one. It was like a vicious cycle… I would avoid going to school or going to specific lessons that I had had anxiety attacks in, because I knew I would have another one if I went in there. I was embarrassed, and felt ashamed that I had them and made people uneasy not knowing what to do because not even I knew what it was. It’s important to not feel embarrassed or ashamed though, as it’s only strange because people don’t know what happening which is why it’s important to speak out about mental health. My anxiety attacks have gotten better which I will explain how in my next post, but I still have other anxieties that are attached to my anorexia.

Anxiety not only comes in the form of attacks; despite now knowing how to deal with a panic attack, I still have regular anxiety which I know is really common. The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are some 6 million people in the UK – approximately 3 million with depression as their primary problem and 3 million with an anxiety disorder – Anxietyuk.org.uk. Anxiety is something that creeps up on you when you least expect it. With the anorexia comes a HUGE amount of anxiety about everything. I worry so much about how I look when I go out, I want to make sure that everyone is happy and never want to upset anyone so I worry a lot about that too… supermarket shopping makes me nervous; the idea of buying food triggers anxious thoughts which link to anorexia which sometimes drive me mad… I get really bad anxiety going into fitting rooms to try on clothes as mentioned before, I sometimes avoid social situations because of the pressure I feel which I know makes me anxious. Anxiety makes me run away from everything, almost as an escape mechanism so I don’t have to face the problem. I get nervous and anxious in new situations because of the pressure I put on myself to be/look/act a certain way and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Anxiety is a really common issue among young, old, everyone. Everyone at one point in their life will suffer or has suffered with anxiety. These anxious thoughts and feelings can stop you from doing so many things; “Anxiety keeps me awake at night; it keeps me as a prisoner in my home. Anxiety makes me feel like a failure; it has taken away my self-worth. Anxiety makes me feel uncomfortable and nervous. Anxiety has taken away friends, family, opportunities, my life.” – themighty.com is a quote that I thought described it perfectly. My anxious thoughts about myself and how I look have taken away my self-worth and keeps me from going out, wanting to stay at home. My thoughts spiral out of control which can sometimes keep me up or make me seem like I’m not involved in social situations because my thoughts just wonder and it’s something I’m learning to handle.

So, I encourage you to think about yourself, and those close to you. Think about how they feel if they avoid social situations, if they constantly cancel, if you all of a sudden start not to see them as regularly. Of course, it doesn’t always mean it’s anxiety, but look at it, and think… sometimes, just acknowledgment of it can make someone feel less alone and may be all they need to be picked back up…

I’ve attached a video to this post which a friend shared with me that I think describes anxiety perfectly, here’s the link, take a watch… you might see a slight glimpse of yourself or someone you know… A day in the life of anxiety

Stay tuned for my next post to read about how attempt to deal with my daily anxiety… thanks for reading x

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What does the mirror REALLY show you?

It’s been a while, I decided to take some time to clear my mind. But, I’m baaaack 😊

So, this post stems off my first story. I think and hope a lot more people will relate to this one because it is a more common taboo issue that people only seem to talk about when something happens to trigger it.

Having had an eating disorder not only effects the most obvious thing, your weight, it also alters the way you think. When I look in the mirror today, it’s different to how I would look in it 3 years ago. A lot of us, when we look in the mirror, tend to point out and notice the things we don’t like and ignore the things we do and I’m guilty too… I hate looking in the mirror a lot of the time and tend to avoid them because I hate my reflection, it makes me feel uncomfortable. I also compare myself a lot to other people and want to look like them and I know this is a thing everyone does which makes me feel reassured that it’s not just me, but also makes me sad that we do this. My reflection makes me think ‘ew’ my next thought after that is, ‘how do I lose weight to make this body part skinnier’, ‘maybe I shouldn’t eat’ and writing about it now is making me realise how real those thoughts are and how much it triggers me to want to stop eating. I get anxious sometimes when I look in the mirror, and the paranoia doesn’t leave me. I avoid seeing anyone and everyone, hide under baggy clothes, hide behind my make-up, and then eat because I feel sad, and then feel guilty for doing that. It’s a vicious cycle that makes me so angry and frustrated. My anxiety explodes, and my mind makes me feel worthless and like I’m not good enough. When I’m shopping with someone and they want to go in the fitting room, omg, I can’t explain the feeling that goes through me. It’s like something in my head sparks this emotion of ‘HELP’, like a warning, that runs through my whole body. I do it anyway because I don’t want anyone to know, but that doesn’t help me. I know it’s not just me who thinks like that in terms of self-confidence, which makes it even sadder. Accepting your reflection in general, is a difficult thing to do which I’m still working on.

I’ve taken steps to try and fix everything; Making sure I’m healthy and my well-being is my priority. The gym is a very interesting factor. There’s a lot of pressure today on men and women to gym and look a certain way. A lot of people feel like they have to gym to look like that or to kind of ‘fit in’. I’ve learnt to use the gym wisely to benefit me. I do things that make me happy, I love acting, I love helping people, I love travelling, I love being with people who are full of life, and these things take my mind off everything else, reminding me that there’s more to life than what I see when I look at myself.  Obviously, one of the hardest things is food. I immerse myself slowly into the ‘food world’ by eating out etc. and not worrying about what I’m eating. I still try and be healthy, and when I don’t I panic, the point is, I try which is what I keep reminding myself and one day I’ll get there. Despite trying to keep these things balanced, I have step backs like everyone does; but remind myself that I should air my thoughts out to someone, so they’re not in my head anymore. Speaking about how you feel, doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you stronger. One day I’ll accept I am who I am, and I am no less and no better than anyone else, simply because of what I see in the mirror.

I have so much anger towards society and social media for glamorising an UNREALISTIC image for men and women that puts so much pressure on us to look a certain way. If you go into high street stores, the mannequins are NOT realistic and that’s what people look to. “The UK have one of the lowest body confidence scores in the world, with only 20% of us saying we like the way that we look” – huffingtonposts. Films, TV, the fashion industry is all a lie; and what’s worse is, we’re exposed to this from such a young age that it becomes normality to us. Why is it only the muscly, tall men, and the skinny small women that are portrayed as the ‘winner’ in a movie? It’s always that girl that gets the guy, or that guy that gets the girl? (Not all movies of course) When did a certain image for women and men become so glamorised and idealistic? And why do industries like the film and social media portray and edit images of women that aren’t realistic? It makes people feel bad for not looking like that, to then find out it’s not even real… When I was sick, I used to compare myself to girls on social media, my Instagram feed was all images of different women’s bodies. I was so glued to all of that I didn’t even consider whether it was real or not… and it was all so I could look like them and now I regret that so much. The drive to want to look a certain way and be socially accepted, has affected me and I’m sure so many people. Social media needs to be REAL and glamorise and focus on what makes people who they really are. Acknowledge that everyone is different, and if we all looked the same, it would be boring…

So, after that, I ask you to ask yourself, what makes you, you? What things do you do that make you who you are? What drives you? What inspires you? What makes you happy? Acknowledge, and THAT is the real reflection of yourself; love yourself for who you are. Think about it, look in the mirror, and ask yourself, what does the mirror REALLY show you?

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Story 1, part 2 – my way to recovery

Before I start, I just wanna say thank you everyone for all your messages, comments, calls everything. I was so nervous to post my first story especially because it’s probably the closest thing I keep to me but, after some messages my best friend sent me, I thought let me just do it! The response was amazing and everyone was so understanding and supportive ❤ so thank you guys!

I was confused on what to write next based on my previous post and was going to post another story but someone made me see this another way. The previous post was a lot about my experiences with Anorexia and how it affected me whilst I had it so I’ve decided that this post will be about my journey to over-coming it. I’m gonna be so honest because I still have problems with food and even writing the word ‘Anorexia’ makes me feel weird. It’s also hard to write a post on how I ‘recovered’ if you like because a) everyone is different and what worked for me might not work for someone else and b) I’m not 100% there yet so I wouldn’t wanna lie or make things seem like they’re better than they are but let me try.

Recovery was hard – eating was hard. I started by getting back into the routine of eating 3 meals a day which was hard because as well as the mental side to things, my stomach had shrunk. It was hard, but I used motivation of things I wanted to do in the future and how much I wanted to get there and if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t have been at uni now, and met some of the fab people I know. As well as that, I did, and stuck to doing drama because it kept me distracted and sane. I’ve always liked the idea of acting like someone else because it kind of made me avoid being myself as weird as that sounds. So I act through characters. When you go through mentally challenging times, keeping busy with something you love doing keeps you going because it reminds you of your purpose. Keeping busy though, I’ve always thought that was a way of avoiding everything rather than dealing with the problem, but in fact, it’s what pushes you to want to do better.

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1st Year Uni exam exploring autobiographical performance with a fab group of people

Anorexia cut me off from all my friends because I didn’t want to face anyone and didn’t have the physical energy. Another thing part of recovery that helped was seeing people. This was hard, probably the hardest one; because of my thinking process, I thought when people saw me again after being a normal weight, everyone would notice I’d put on weight and comment on it. That made me so anxious because that was like my worst nightmare, it still is. Slowly, one by one, I saw people and it lowered that anxiety I feel from comments. When you feel like avoiding everyone, sometimes the best thing to do is try to fight that thought and push yourself to it because the feeling after is like no other. Almost makes you feel normal – despite how hard it can be.

Like I said, I’m not 100% there yet and do still find food situations hard. When I go out for a meal, I still look at the menu before to know what I’m having. Check nutritional information on food, avoid certain food situations like big family gatherings because it means I have no control over what I’m eating and breaks the healthiness I still focus on with eating. It still makes me panic, but what I can do now that I couldn’t when I had Anorexia, was fight that fear. It might be hard but I do it anyway because I feel accomplished rather than guilty for eating something I wanted to. Not every time, sometimes I feel so bad I avoid any food for the rest of the day; but, the difference between then and now is that I do it and it makes me proud.

It may not be the same but I hope it’s a little glimpse of hope for anyone who feels like they’re trapped in a mental state, it will get better and no matter how hard it seems, keep pushing so you can get there and look back on everything and think, I did it.

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Story one, Anorexia and me

I’ve had this written for so long… I’ve just not had the guts to post it but here it is.

In sixth form, I had a fab group of friends. We had some crazy times out, in school, there was never a dull moment, I loved it. Slowly though, I withdrew myself from everyone and people started noticing. I remember 2 of my good friends now, taking me aside and asking me if everything was okay and I exploded ‘yeah everything’s fine’. I was scared people were noticing something was wrong. (I appreciate that so much now btw guys x).

I’ve been uncomfortable in my own skin for a few years, small comments from when I was younger about how I look, being called fat and ugly (I know everyone gets that, its rubbish). One day, I decided to take a step to change, I wanted to take control so I started going to the gym. I went for a while, and got frustrated I couldn’t see any difference and wanted to take another route. So, I stopped eating. I tried to do it slyly so no one would notice, making my portions smaller, etc. I did this for a few months, and people started noticing. I’d go to sixth form and get comments like ‘omg you look amazing’, ‘how did you lose so much weight you look so good’. It was like a drug, the more comments I got, the less I ate because I felt good, I felt confident, I liked the way I looked. Slowly, things started deteriorating… my body temperature was always cold, my periods stopped, my hair was falling out, I didn’t want to do anything because I didn’t have the energy, I didn’t want to see anyone. All of this didn’t matter though because I felt good, I looked good. Then, my mum took me to the GP and I was fuming. All that control I had, was taken away. Constant arguments, and avoiding things. I liked the way I looked, and going to the GP was the same as her forcing me to eat, making me fat and I was so angry at her for it. I had Anorexia, and it was horrible. Being told I have to eat or die was the hardest thing to hear because it’s like I had no way out. I was going to die. Eating & putting on weight for me, was like dying, the thought was the same. I had 6 month’s therapy and didn’t tell anyone. I did my A levels throughout everything, I just acted like everything was ok. Food is something that you can’t avoid. If you’re claustrophobic, you can avoid busy places, food is everywhere. I feared lunchtimes at sixth form, especially when people commented on my food I would just want to sit alone and cry. I came home and argued and cried every day to my mum saying I felt unhappy and that I couldn’t do it anymore, it was too hard to eat, I didn’t want to because I was scared of putting on weight. I felt alone, like no one understood how hard it was to eat, how much I want to eat and be happy with it. I did the 6-month’s therapy, despite it being the hardest thing I have done, and am a normal weight.

Mentally, my mind is somewhat still confused and food is still challenging for me. I try to ignore it now but maybe that’s the wrong approach. Living with Anorexia is a thing, and that’s what I’m learning to accept. It’s a part of me and will always be in the back of my mind trying to control what I do and how I feel about myself. I have to just try my hardest to remind myself that it’s ok, and I am healthy now, I should do it in the right way not because I want to look a certain way, because I want to be comfortable being me.

This might sound cheesy but meeting someone, made me forget everything. I was so in the moment whenever I was with him it felt surreal how normal and happy I felt. I remember those initial few days so well and will never forget them because they made me feel like me again, like nothing had happened. It’s taught me to hold people like this close to me.

I’m still working on myself, but it’s ok to not be all there. A lot of the things I say to people, especially people closest to me, is influenced by everything. Have self-love and happiness in the centre of everything you do. Nurture your soul, this is my way of doing it. It’s okay to feel lonely, and if anyone reading this feels the same or somewhat similar know, you’re not alone.

Autobiographical performance

Studying Drama at Uni, this performance meant a lot to me because it allowed me to explore the things I’ve kept inside.

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Hello

Hello! I’m new to blogging, and I don’t know how to do this properly but let’s try. I’m here to share my mental health experiences with everyone and hopefully allow people who feel or have felt the same way to recognise themselves and know that they are not alone. Mental health is an important topic that we don’t speak about and I want to understand why. It’s just as important if not more than physical health and has its toll on you just as much. It can push you away from the people you love the most and make you feel lost within yourself, losing who you are. Let’s speak about it and be open!

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