Living without you

Time for an appreciation post! I'm not usually one with words, but this is important. As I've mentioned in my post 'My year in review', it has been an extremely hard year and it's made me see many sides to humankind. Below I have written a little passage to all of the people that have helped me survive this year:

Family

This year, I have needed my family more than ever and I am glad to say that they have been here for me. Not everyone understands or knows about it, but it's generally been a good response, even if it's been a task to explain what it's all about. My mum especially, has given every waking moment to me when my anxiety has taken over. She has gone over and beyond to help me through. I wish I never had to put her through any of it, but as many of you know anxiety can be overwhelming and can affect everyone around you. She's a lifesaver and miracle worker! ha. My Auntie has been there on the phone to talk whenever. As she suffers with mental health herself, it's great to to be able to talk to someone who's been through it too. Words can never explain how much I appreciate them and the support they have given me. I hope they know their worth. 

Friends

As I've mentioned before, I have found out who my real friends are. Even though some may not understand; they haven't avoided me. I am very lucky to have people who have supported me and listened during the harder times. 

Teachers
My first assumption was that I'd have to leave the school I am studying at. I thought that they would think that I'm stupid, weak, that I'm skipping school on purpose and that they'd laugh. How wrong I was! They have been a main part of my recovery and have been so supportive. They've chatted to me about it, sent work home, given me a lot of leeway with times and rooms. I will never forget them. They have worked so hard, using their spare time to make sure I still continue to stay in school. It's helped immensely and I hope they understand their importance throughout my journey and the changes they can make to people's lives. Not having the ability to go to school, has made me realise how important it is and how much I miss it all. It's true to say "You don't know what you've got until it's gone".

You

When I started this blog and only had a few views, I was so happy that I had the ability to help a few people. Now, I am beginning to make some friends in the blogging world and help more people out as the days go by. Knowing that I can improve someone's life just a little bit, is a great thing to me. In return, the lovely things you write to me, make my day and keep me going. I hope that we can continue this journey, and we can fight this battle together. 

Be thankful for all of the people that support you and make sure you let them know. Remember that talking is key. I understand that not everyone has someone to talk to and reactions may be different, but it's important to note that what you think may happen, isn't always the case. Many will react in a positive manner. From experience, I know that not everyone will be understanding or be graceful with words. Everyone has experienced this in regards to mental health, but it's important to know that there are people out there who love you and support you. Try and find someone in your life that you can talk to. It takes a lot of courage to talk because of your perceptions, but it will help you a lot. There are always charities and I am always here to help. 


I wish you all the best for 2014 and let this be the year we win the battle against our mental health!




Amy xx



Life vs. Death

Every day I slowly develop my mindset and understand the philosophy of the world just that little bit more. It makes me review the world around me, life, the universe, how I can improve my life and what it's all about. Recently, I've begun to include a new philosophy that's been around for hundreds of years.

Anxiety can be so crippling and in reaction to the simplest of things. I'm not saying that this new philosophy can change your anxiety forever, but it may help you to go outside of your comfort zone. After all, exposure has been proven to work.

You must have heard people say at least once in your lifetime: 'at least you're not dying', 'YOLO', 'life's short' and so on. This philosophy I have heard all of my life, but have never had the confidence to put it into practice. But as each new day arrives, another door opens in my mind and it just so happened to click this time. For example, I have applied for Law work experience, where I will have to undertake a phone interview. I'm not going to lie, I'm scared! Especially because talking on the phone is something I'm yet to tackle. However, with this way of thinking, I know that it's not the be all end all. I know that life's short and I should just give it a go. If I mess up, then at least I've given it a try. Firstly, I'm only human and the person interviewing me will have highly likely messed up before and secondly, what's the worst that can happen? Unfortunately, I cannot apply this philosophy to all areas of my anxiety, such as school, although the application in theory does make it easier. As time goes by, the more I feel it would work. For example, I plan to get my ear pierced. Easy for some, but not for others! It's the little things.

As much as I wish I could get on stage, drive and have a job all in a breeze, it is something I must tackle. There will still be things that I will find incredibly hard, even with this philosophy in mind. However, I think it's going to help. A new year is upon us and it's time for a fresh start (although any new way of life can begin at any day) Perhaps we should all strive to do something out of our comfort zone, because that's usually where the fun is! Anxiety will still make it a struggle and perhaps you're not in that stage of recovery yet, but one day you will get there.

Remember, life vs. death. In the situations where you can apply this, try it. Whether it be with relationships, jobs, clubs and so on. At the end of the day anxiety is a battle, but let's still try to live life as much as possible. One day you'll get there!

"What would you do, if you knew you couldn't fail?" 
Best wishes and I hope you've had a lovely Christmas. Onto the new year! 
Amy xx

My year in review

I know we've still got a few weeks to go until the end of December and the beginning of 2014, but because it's going to be a busy time of celebration, now seems like a good option to reflect on the past year.

This time last year, it was 2012 and the end of what I regard as the best year of my life so far. The end of 2012 however, was a bit harder as my anxiety slowly began to creep in more and more. 2013 arrived and as many of you may have read, I had a breakdown in January where I've had to rebuild my life from the very beginning. Blood tests and mostly doctors appointments have been main parts of my life this year and almost twelve months later, it has brought me here. Thinking about this makes me feel sick to my stomach of frustration and sadness over how much I've missed in the past year or so. It's safe to it's been one hell of year in more ways than one.

On the plus side, even though this year has been a struggle, I have had a few good moments and it's important to remember these. Amongst a few highlights are my AS level results and university offers. At the beginning of the year, when I couldn't face school, many people said that I wouldn't do so well at school due my lack of attendance. But, I was so determined. I was not going to fail and I was not going to give in. The determination to succeed was so huge and the crippling anxiety was just what encouraged me further. I was not going to let my anxiety defeat me, even though I have had many moments in this year where I've thought the only way to survive, was to quit school. I spent many months revising and teaching myself in preparation for the exams, and I surprised myself and many others as a result. I've also learnt about myself more than ever this year and it's helped me to understand more about the philosophy of the world. If this is to teach you and I anything, it is that if you work hard you can reap the rewards and have faith in yourself that you can achieve. 


In terms of my family, friends and teachers - these are the people I am incredibly grateful for. Without them, I have no clue where I'd be now. They've kept me going. They have been so supportive. It sounds very cliche, but this year has shown me who my true friends are and I cherish them. Remember, talking is the most important thing you can do to get on the road to recovery. I can't thank everyone enough. I hope these people realise how important they are to me!

Looking back, I know this has been an extremely hard year; because of not having the ability do what I love and this is something I'm still battling, so that one day I can live a full life. It's true to say that many will only understand if you've experienced it. There have been many times when I could've given up, but I managed to hold onto the knowledge that I will get through this and that there are better things to come. I know there are times when you can feel as one of my teachers put it "just holding on", but you can do it and you will get there. 

How was your year in review? Let me know! 
Merry Christmas! or as it is said in German; Froehliche Weihnachten!,
Amy x

A whole lot of chitty chat

Hello guys! As you may know I have recently written a blog post for Anna from 'A Whole Lot Of Chitty Chat'. I thought it would be a good idea if Anna would write a blog post for my blog too, in the hope that it will help others in regards to what you're experiecing with anxiety, but also to let you know of a great blogger!: 

Hello Amy's lovely readers, by the looks of her twitter followers there could be a lot of you! I love reading Amy's blog & I can totally relate to her just like many others can too I'm sure :)
 
I approached Amy & asked her if she would like to do a post for my blog which she happily got involved in & sent me a post, which is now up over on my blog.
 
So now it is my turn, I didn't approach Amy with the hope that she would want me to do a post for her blog too, not at all. But I feel happy that she asked me to do one in return. I approached Amy in the hope she would say yes & so I could then help spread the word & share her blog with my readers.
 
So now we are on track & know what is going on, I'll tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Anna, I'm 21 & I blog over at A Whole Lot Of Chitty Chat. I started blogging at the start of this year when to be honest I felt very little purpose in my life. That was when my blog was created, I thought it would be a good place to share my thoughts. Then I actually started sharing my blog about a bit over on twitter & started gaining readers. Now I not only blog for myself but for others, others who probably like yourself feel so alone in your situation. You are never alone :)
 
Just like Amy, I suffer with anxiety. I first started noticing when I was around the age of 16/17. I know how hard life can be for those affected. You can feel so misunderstood, you can feel so alone. But that really doesn't have to be the case. You shouldn't have to suffer in silence either. If you don't feel comfortable speaking about your struggles openly, why not maybe start a blog anonymously just like Amy?
 
I think blogging is a great way to have a voice & a little place to build a friendship & become part of a community. I'm currently building friendships with a few lovely girls who also blog, it is fantastic!
 
I do blog mainly about mental health & the effect it has on my life but I now blog weekly about my driving lessons & do a post every Sunday called Sit Down Sunday which is where I just reflect on everything good about that week. For a little while I had a routine for the days of the week I would blog on but sometimes life is unexpected & changes. Plus having a routine kind of takes away the fun in blogging & just adds pressure! Pressure is not fun.
 
I'm going to leave my post at that & hope I haven't bored anyone to sleep. Oh & well done if you managed to read to the end. I feel that was really higgledy piggledy so I apologise :)
 
Thanks for having me over on your blog Amy & thanks to your readers for hopefully reading this post :)
Anna ♥
 
You can find me over on twitter @awholelotof_
If you do check out my blog leave me a little comment saying you've come from Amy's blog :)

Thank you Anna for writing. it just shows there are many people going through the same experience as you.
Best Wishes,
Amy xx 
 

On the rampage (stigma)

A few months ago, I did a three part series on stigma which you can find below:
This post however, I have felt the need to write after mental health coming up in a few discussions in class and it appears that quite a few people still have the impression that everyone with a mental illness is a person who is running around on a rampage. How wrong they are! This post will hopefully clear it up for anyone who still has the idea of such a stereotype. I am not an expert in every field of mental illness and I am still learning about my own every day, but I aim to get rid of some myths in today's post. In this post by Time To Change, it dispels some myths about mental illness and I advise you to take a look.

In the meantime, here are a few of my personal favourite mental myth busting facts:  

1. People who are mentally ill are violent - The majority are not violent. People with mental health are more likely to be victimised. From hearing in discussions, when people talk about mental illness they just think of violence and horror movies. I suffer mainly with anxiety as a mental illness and I am not violent. My auntie who suffers with depression is not one who goes around like you see in the horror movies either. As can be seen in the dispute between Asda and Tesco with their halloween costumes, the majority of people with a mental illness are not like that. We are normal people. Mental illness doesn't define me. I am not a mental illness. I am me, with mental illness being something I must deal with. I find it very sad when the first words that people come out with when thinking about mental illness is: dangerous, violent and crazy. Too often the use of the word mental and comparing a person to someone in a mental institution is just reinforcing the stereotype. They are many in institutions who are suffering with conditions such as eating disorders and depression. It gives an increasing importance to get rid of the stigma.

2. If you're mentally ill, you would've been sectioned - not the case. There are many people with eating disorders, anxiety, depression and others that are not sectioned. There is often help within the community, people who go to therapy sessions and so on. Many can live a next to normal life.

3. You can see if someone's mentally ill - not true. If you saw me you wouldn't even guess it. I've had many a friend tell me 'I would never have expected it to be you'. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean there's no effect.The videos below from Time To Change may help you to have a new outlook, if not already. If this changed your mind and helped, please share. We must reduce the stigma. 

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

Birdy

A very important, but quick blog post that I feel obliged to write. 

For a long time now, I have realised how many people are suffering throughout life and with such conditions as mental illness. There are so many people, whether they've been diagnosed or not, whether it's severe, or not so, whether it's a terrible day, or a continuous drag of bad thoughts; there are so many people out there suffering. At the beginning of discovering I had an issue with anxiety, I thought I was alone in battling this. I had blinkers on, but I was wrong in my belief that I was alone. 
Every day never fails to surprise me. All of the 'perfect' celebrities that can result to panic because of a fear, and even the people you assume are perfect are in fact are suffering with their own battles. The people you see every day, including family members, friends, teachers and colleagues may all be battling something severe of their own, even though you would never in a million years have guessed it. 
The moral of this story is, that a person may be very good at hiding how they are feeling and a simple 'how are you doing?' may reveal a lot of information that they are struggling. However, there are many that keep such issues close to their chests, and it may take a few times of encouraging them to speak about it. If they don't want to talk about it, that's also okay as they will talk when they are comfortable. Don't be afraid to lend a helping hand because you never know, you might be the one who keeps them going.

Until next time,
People, help the people!
Amy xx

Words of wisdom

A few weeks ago, I was having a pretty rubbish week in terms of my anxiety. I was once again in the situation of thinking "what can I do help my state of mind?" Quotes have always been a massive favourite of mine. They give insight, help and ultimately I can relate to others. I was feeling quite down on myself and I'd had enough.  I looked  up some quotes to do with fear, anxiety and my fear of failure in the hope that my mindset would improve. I think it would be a good idea to share the best ones that I found with you, in the hope it will help you too: 
 "Remembering that i'll be dead soon is the most important tool i've encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important." Steve Jobs
"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default." J.K Rowling
"This is all you have. This is not a dry run. This is your life. If you want to fritter it away with your fears, then you will fritter it away, but you won't get it back later." Laura Schlessinger
"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself" Harvey Fierstein
"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like" Lao Tzu 
"Expect problems and eat them for breakfast" Alfred A. Montapert
 "Either you run the day or the day runs you" Jim Rohn
I know some of these quotes may come across as quite morbid and harsh, but to me they were the most useful when looking up about anxiety and my fear of failure. I also understand by reading a few quotes, your life won't suddenly be turned upside down. This is only to help you on your way. Perhaps one day I will write about my favourite quotes of all time...

Best Wishes!
Amy xx  

Bare in the jungle

'I'm a celebrity' has recently returned for it's thirteenth series and as much as I love the programme, this year has brought something new to my attention. I thought I would write a quick post about it. If you don't like' I'm a Celebrity', just hold on for a bit as I promise there is a moral to all of this! 

The programme has shown me just how different people can be from first impressions, or long held impressions for that matter and relates to my phobia post. The notion that the people we perceive as perfect; such as celebrities, highly powered people and even the people we come into contact every day all have fears, has been reinforced. We may never know what these fears are, but I'm assured that everyone has them.

I often watch a programme called the Wright Stuff. It's a talk show focusing on the news of the day and includes debates on current affairs. The host really surprised me as he is always composed, appears confident and often has intelligent input into the debates. Whilst watching the first episode of the series, it showed me that the people you don't think have any problems, do! He was extremely scared of creepy crawlies to the result of panic. It really surprised me because of my long held impression of him as a talk show host. It reinforces my thoughts that even celebrities and high powered people who seem perfect, do have their fears. They all just have different triggers and some of them we will never see the reaction to. It made me feel not as alone on this journey!

Best wishes,
Amy xx

School

I have briefly mentioned school in my previous post titled 'Phobias don't last' which can be found here. I am going to write in more detail about my severe battle with school to help others understand. I know from the outside, this 'fear' of school appears somewhat impossible. It can appear as if you're not bothered and that you're skipping school, but this is not true at all. 

I have always enjoyed school for as long as I can remember. I was also quite obsessive about school to the extent that I wouldn't miss a day of school. I wouldn't go on holiday and the only time I would ever take a day off is when I was really ill, but even then I would sometimes still go to school. I couldn't bare to take a day off in the fear I may miss something really important. My uniform was always correct and I would do and still do every single piece of work set, revision and extra study. Never in all my time at secondary school did I get a detention either, as I ensured I did every piece of work and behaved in class. Of course, I was teased quite a bit in school because of what I was like, but now I'm older it doesn't really bother me as I got the grades I deserved because of my attitude towards education. These grades are more important than ever bowing down to any peer pressure. So, now you can see why having a year off school (on and off) is not typical of me.

From around the age of 8, I began to have slight problems with school, however I would still go to school everyday and be just as dedicated. These problems I faced with school reduced quite a bit until I turned 17, almost 10 years later. 

One day I was walking to school and I got to the sixth form where I began to have a panic attack. I explained that I had to leave and walked home. From that day in January, I have never gone back to way I used be. From that day forward I became increasingly anxious towards school and had more negative thoughts in connection with school too. I felt like the world around me was falling apart. I knew that other areas of my life were being affected by anxiety and now it was affecting my education too. It just happened overnight. 

In January I had a breakdown and I couldn't face school at all. I had a mental block. The best way I can explain a mental block, is through the following example: You're on top the empire state building. You have been ordered to jump off the building with no safety equipment and you know that you will die if you do so. The feeling you get when someone is trying to push you forward and you are resisting; that fear of your body screaming 'NO' is the fear I get every single day. The mental block makes it very hard mentally and physically to get out of the door.This mental block can also come and go throughout the school term, especially when I'm trying to get to school after a break. 

From that day in January, I have now been to school and on and off. I have had work sent home, teachers talking to me and phoning me, numerous sessions of counselling and CBT, medication and methods of coping. I have also been given leeway as to being allowed to arrive to school later, separate rooms for my exams and being able leave if I need to. This has helped me a lot! 

So, what exactly happens? Every day of school, I often have a bad nights sleep. This often means restless or little sleep. I wake up with absolute dread, fear, exhaustion and lack of motivation. I feel really ill; like I'm going to be sick. I feel tired and fed up. Before I go to school, I often begin to breathe rapidly, my heart is racing and adrenaline is rushing. This is typical of the flight or fight system and is where the problem lies. Firstly, this makes you very tired and second of all, these feelings of being ill makes you believe you are ill and so you feel you can't leave the house. My legs are heavy and I feel as if there is a brick wall in front of me. My Mum will try absolutely everything to get me out of the door, from persuasion to reassurance. Once I'm in the car, I will often put up quite a fight to not get out of the car due to the fear being so massive. I will say and do anything to get out of the situation. The majority of days I will just sit outside of the school gates as the power of my anxiety is too overwhelming to do otherwise. However, there are days when I will be able to understand my anxiety and get to school. Once I'm in the school gates, the feeling of sickness and panic will be with me for at least half an hour until it begins to reduce and my symptoms begin to subside. However, these can come back throughout the day. I'm sure you can imagine how depressing and hellish this would be; feeling ill, exhausted, not looking forward to going to school, people being disappointed, people being stressed and missing out on memories.


The thing with anxiety is that you might as well be in prison. You spend days on end inside a house going through torture through your own head. The worst bit is that you haven't done anything wrong. You look out of your window, and you see people going to school and you're stuck in the house. You can't even get an education or do what you love.

"You know this fear is irrational, right?" I know full well that school is just a building with amazing and supportive people inside, but for some reason my body will just go into a complete irrational state. It's so hard to explain. If I could leave the house, I would. But again it is the irrational fear. Firstly, it's the worry that I am going to be ill and secondly I can also have a mental block as mentioned above. It so frustrating as it can be so debilitating to the extent that you cannot walk towards the door. 

I hope this has given you a better understanding of what a battle I face with school. It is the thing that gives me the most anxiety. I know from the outside, it seems completely stupid. However, it is something I have to battle and is very real. I continue to work extremely hard outside of school to maintain my grades. You have to show people that you can still accomplish what you want in life. 

Best Wishes and keep fighting!

Amy x

Ten top tips

Hi guys! I'm sorry it has been so long since the last post.
In this post I'm going to write about the main tips I have used to overcome or reduce my anxiety, in the hope that it will help you too.

Tips to overcome anxiety

1. Education - To reduce and overcome anxiety, you must understand the condition. For example: If you know that adrenaline is a result of the flight or fight system, you won't be as worried and unsure as to what's happening to your body. If you understand what symptoms you can get as a result of this adrenaline, then you will be more confident that it is anxiety and not another illness. You can get all sorts of information on anxiety through organisations such as charities and counselling services. I have also written many posts on anxiety, the symptoms and how it works.

2. Professional help - Therapy/Counselling has been a godsend for me. As mentioned in my past posts, I have had private hypnotherapy and then went onto a more hardcore and meaty type of therapy available on the NHS. It has really helped educate me about my condition, so I can understand the feelings and symptoms. It has also helped me to tackle my anxiety through CBT. Currently, I am on a more intense therapy where it is tackling my thought patterns on becoming ill and confidence. I can honestly say that it has been the most beneficial factor in my recovery process. 

3. Breathing - My therapist taught me a breathing technique that I may have mentioned in previous posts. Occasionally, it worked better than medication.  You must breathe in through your nose, hold it and then breathe out through your mouth very slowly. It will calm you down and bring you back to a normal state, whilst slightly reducing your physical symptoms. 

4. Talking - As i've mentioned before, talking to someone is extremely important. You cannot bottle up your feelings, especially if you are suffering with some sort of mental health condition. It is extremely important you talk to a family member, a friend, a charity worker or a teacher - someone you trust. You can get the ball rolling with recovery and you know that there is someone who can work through your problems with you throughout your recovery.

5. Panic attacks - Panic attacks are common with all types of anxiety, and I have written a post with tips to help with panic attacks, here.

6. Anxiety can't last forever - One thing my therapist told me, is that a high state of anxiety cannot last forever. So, when you are having a panic attack and think it's going out of control, think to yourself that this cannot last. It will go. It helps me to calm down. 

7. Journal - I bought myself a notebook on a whim and thought that it would be a good idea to track my progress, in the hope that one day I will look back and see how much I have improved and overcome my anxiety. Every day I will write down my scores of anxiety, depression, any aids I have used (medication, breathing techniques), positive points of the day and things I need to learn from. It's great to get things off your chest, learn from the day and review your progress.

8. Google - I know we all use Google for school, home and work. However, please try your best to not 'self diagnose' on Google as it often leads to a higher state of anxiety and worry about an illness that you do not have. I cannot deny that I used to use google a lot to try and explain the 'illness' that I was feeling, but please try your best to stay away. If you think you really have a problem, please see your Doctor. They are there to help you, do not be afraid of them. 

9. Other people - Something I keep reminding myself is that many people have been here before. You are not alone. When It's exam season and I am extremely stressed, I know that other people have survived and have done well. It's the same with mental illness. There are many people living successful and happy lives. They know what it feels like and they have survived. It encourages me to keep going.

10. Voyage of Self Discovery - "I am under reconstruction" - a quote I found very useful. Before anxiety really took its toll, I was just moving along in life and sticking to the same old routine. However when anxiety hit me, I had to start from the very beginning. It has taught me so much about myself and dare I say it, I know myself better than people who have not gone down a similar route. I have realised my strength, I have learnt new skills,  I have a massive sense of achievement and I am beginning to do things that I would never have thought of doing a few months back. It is like I am building myself from scratch again. So, instead of looking at it in such a negative way, think about all of the tasks you will attack and all the skills you will gain. You are not a victim.

Best Wishes to all of you!
Amy xx

Phobias don't last

I'm pretty sure every person in the world has a phobia of some sort, whether that be spiders, heights or dogs. Everyone has one and is scared of something. Even celebrities and highly powered people have their insecurities. 

Many people would accept that the fear of spiders is one which is very common and something which is widely accepted and understood. However; when you ask the person why they are scared of spiders, they probably won't have an answer. Okay, so the long legs and the fact that they run fast is part of its character, but if you look deeply into the phobia there really isn't an answer. This is something I want to address. Anxiety often comes with triggers and phobias and unfortunately for the phobias which are less common, people often believe that these phobias do not last or exist.

As I've mentioned previously, my biggest anxiety trigger is school and I have no clue why. I never ever had a serious problem with school until my breakdown in January. Unfortunately for me, it is the most important place in my life at the moment, as it holds the key to my education. 
This phobia makes my life hell as it is extremely severe. As school takes up 5 days of my life and ultimately the build up of Sunday, my life is very hard in terms of school. Everyday I wake up with dread, fear and adrenaline. Ultimately six out of the seven days of the week I get symptoms of anxiety, which often results in me eating little, being tired and feeling really ill. 
I absolutely love the subjects I am studying and conversing with my friends, but for some reason every day is an up hill struggle. However, each day I manage to go to school is an achievement and one step closer to recovery.

There is something else I want to address; not all phobias are short term! I will get periods of prolonged absence from school. Last year I missed about half of the school year and had to teach myself at home. However, if I manage the whole of this school week, it means I've been to school for almost three weeks in a row which is the most since January. This is a pure example that recovery does happen! However, many people have the assumption that phobias don't last. Just because I can get to school for a certain amount of time, doesn't mean that life is any easier or that my phobia has gone. This is not the case at all and unfortunately some people assume that this is true. Recovery is a gradual process and it does not happen over a few weeks, neither does getting over a phobia. However, I must reinforce the point that just because I am managing to work through my phobia, it doesn't mean that it is any easier or that it has disappeared.

Everyone's phobias are different and I understand how hard it can be. I hope that this post helped you in someway and made you realise you are not alone. Recovery can happen and I am an example of this. Do not give up. 

Amy xx

Diary of Anxiety

This isn't usually the type of post that I would write, but I'm hoping it will still be beneficial. There are so many people out there that don't understand anxiety and it's true to say, it will never be completely understood unless you have experienced it yourself. I hope that for the sufferers of the condition; you will be able to relate to this somehow and for others, I'm hoping you understand how hard it can be for some people. This is in no way intended to be a negative post, but more of a realisation.

The diary of anxiety:


Different aspects of your life will be affected depending on what type of anxiety you have and how severe it is. For those who suffer with severe anxiety, life can be a living hell. It is with you 24/7. 

Sometimes it will be present in your sleep. Your body will be preparing for the day ahead with the flight or fight response. This means one of two things; either interrupted sleep, or feeling tired when waking up. From the moment you wake, anxiety takes action with adrenaline rushing through your veins. You wake up everyday feeling ill because your body has heightened anxiety due to the daily tasks you have to complete, such as going to school or catching public transport. 
You've put up with this anxiety for a long time now and it's tiring. You feel ill when you wake, so you don't feel like doing much. You don't feel like putting makeup on or putting more effort into the way you dress. You can only eat little, because your anxiety is just too bad and you're always tired. You just want to stay in a safe place, where you can be calm for a while. For many people; this is home. 
Your anxiety is so crippling and disabling that it stops you from doing anything that you love. You get heightened anxiety any time you try to attempt to do something, which often ends in a panic attack or avoidance. As a result, you end up staying at home; again. 
Everything in your life is constant battle with your brain. You struggle and often avoid school, public transport, driving lessons, getting a job, joining a club and speaking in front of class. 
You try with every inch of your body and all of your might, to complete a simple task as to catch a bus, but it often results in hours of emotional and physical pain and angst about the thought. 
You're always told not to compare yourself to others, but sometimes you can't help but notice the people around you. When you see other people your age with jobs, going to school without a second thought and driving, you can't help but feel a little bit hopeless.
It's all well and good saying that you are in control of your destiny, but when it seems you have a great brick wall in front of your every step, your legs are heavy and you feel like you're wading through thick mud, it's extremely hard to believe. 
But then you wake up one morning feeling okay, this is a very rare occasion but you're feeling good. You manage to overcome some of your fears and at the end of the day you feel ecstatic. You know that this is a taste of what life should be and could be like. You feel as if you've crawled out of this deep dark hole and seen the light. You know recovery isn't going to be easy, but it's the good days you've got to hold on to. You know that even if the crippling anxiety comes back the next day, you've experienced some sort of relief.

I really, really hope this has given people a better understanding of the struggle sufferers of the condition have to go through. Again, this is not intended to be a negative or pitiful post, but one that I hope you can relate to.


I wish you all best and don't forget you can contact me through any of the social networks.

Amy xx 


Recovery

Recovery: 'return to normal state: the return of something to a normal or improved state after a setback or loss.'

Recovery begins from the day you feel you are suffering. The day you take action and control of your situation is the day you go on the road to recovery.

A first thing to note about recovery is that it takes time. Recovery can take weeks, months or even years. For me, it's taken over a year so far and I'm still going strong! Don't rush your recovery as your body knows what's right for you.
One day you may wake up and feel like you have the ability to tackle the thing you've always been scared of. It will happen. Other tasks may take a while to accomplish. Secondly, anxiety is based upon repetition. With anxiety, your body feels there is a danger whenever you try certain tasks such as going to school, catching a bus etc. Tackling the thing you fear, can take a while, but don't fret as It does get better -  just think of my recovery process! At first I couldn't leave the house and now I am slowly getting back into school - which is my biggest anxiety trigger. I've got a while to go yet, but you must take it slowly.

I wish I could tell you recovery is easy, but there will be bumps in the road. I wish the same as you, that I could do what I wanted when I wanted. However my anxiety tends to get in the way.
Recovery wont always be smooth. Many people use the term good days and bad days. One day you'll be able to tackle many things, such as catching a bus and you may be able to sustain these days for a while. However, the next day you may suddenly feel you can't tackle the task you were able to yesterday. This is completely normal. For me, today is a bad day. But, I am not deterred. I know that not everyday will be good, but you must think of everything you have achieved so far.

A positive thing about recovery, is knowing that you're becoming a stronger and better person. The things you tackle which seem big to you, such as catching a bus make you feel amazing after you've accomplished them. You get such a buzz from doing something you fear.

Just remember, recovery takes time and is different for everyone. Don't rush recovery and be proud of the things you accomplish day by day. I can't promise you that it will be easy; there will be great days and then some setbacks. But you must keep going and do not give up. You will get there eventually. Remember, I'm going through recovery too!



I wish you all the best and remember you've got this. People have been through this before and managed to get back to full health. You're not alone.


Amy xx

What help is available?: Extra Support

This post concludes the mini series 'help'. Here are just a few extra tips to help you if you feel you are suffering with a mental illness, such as anxiety.

1. Friends and Family
It's always great to have someone to talk to if you feel you are suffering from a mental illness. One of the best ways you can handle the situation is to talk. The Time to Change campaign gives tips on how to start a conversation about mental illness. I'm sure you will be surprised by the response of your family and friends - in a positive way, just like I was. I know it can be extremely hard to talk about it, however I would really advise you to start the conversation which will change your life and get you onto the road to recovery. Many people are reluctant to speak about their issues, which can be problematic. I don't know your family or friend situation - you may not feel close to them, or don't feel you can trust them. However, please try to find just one person in your life, whether that be your Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother, Grandparent, Auntie, Uncle, Cousin, Friend or even someone working for a charity, if you feel you cannot talk to a friend or someone from your family. Talking is so important, they can begin to support you, you will feel better and hopefully it will mean you can get the services that you need.

2. YouTube
The internet is such a widespread thing these days and we tend to use it in everyday life. However, while I was suffering from my mental breakdown and anxiety a few months ago and even now, YouTube is a great support. At the time I was going through therapy and I thought I was the only one to ever suffer from anxiety, however I went on YouTube and just happened to find Zoella. 

Zoella is a beauty/fashion guru on Youtube, who before I saw her video on anxiety I had never really watched her videos. However now my viewing is a reoccurring thing! The first video I ever saw about her was where she explained about her anxiety. Everything she was saying, I could relate to. I no longer felt alone. I thank her so much for broadcasting that video, because at the time I desperately needed it. Zoe has also written an amazing blog post, which I read last Easter. This too is amazing and it helped me so much. I will leave the links below:
Click here for Zoella's anxiety post.
Click here for Zoella's anxiety video.

Tanya Burr is another well known Youtuber. She has written a brief blogpost about anxiety too. It's not in as much detail as Zoella, but that's understandable because to write about anxiety can be quite a brave thing. I will also leave the link to her blog post below:
Click here for Tanya's anxiety post.

You'd be surprised how many other YouTubers suffer from anxiety and other issues. They may look fine, but everyone is fighting their own battles. Remember; you are not alone. 1 in 4 people suffer with mental illness in any one year.

I hope that this mini series has helped you or started you on your way to recovery. If I had to send any message to you right now, it is to talk. Please, please talk to someone about your mental illness. I cannot stress it enough. After you've spoken to someone about it; whether that be a friend, family member or charity worker you have already started on your way to recovery. Then you can go to the GP who will be able to put you into the right direction to help you on your way.

I hope this has helped and thank you so much for the support over the last few weeks. I wish you all the best.

"It seems impossible until it's done"

Amy x

What help is available: Health Services

If you feel like you are suffering with a mental illness your first port of call should be your Doctor/GP. They should be able to put you into the right direction, whether that be counselling, medication or any other health service. 

1. Your GP/Doctor
Your GP covers a wide range of topics when regarding mental illness, so I will try to make it simple.
If you are having problems in regards to your mental health, whether that be depression/anxiety or any other mental illness, you can go to your GP. Don't be hesitant to discuss it with your GP, I did and it really was my first step on the way to recovery. I know it can be scary, especially if you get extremely anxious or embarrassed, but just think of the improvements you will make. 

2. Counselling/Therapy:
Out of everything I will ever mention on this blog, counselling is the most important step. This list below mentions some of the counselling services I know of and/or have gone through:

A) Private Sector - This can be somewhat costly and can take a long time to search for a private counsellor or hypnotherapist. However, if you are in desperate need, then this is what you should go for. I was put on a waiting list for an NHS mental health service, which I was on for 7 months. Because I was in such desperate need, I had to go private. I saw a hypnotherapist where it was half talking about my feelings and how I was doing with certain aspects of my anxiety and the other half was relaxing and what is known as 'hypnotherapy' This is where your hypnotherapist will read specific things to try and make your brain relax/clear/feel a different way about a situation. It's really not as bad as you think. 

B) NHS Mental Health services - Through my own experience, this is by far a much more meaty type of counselling and really worked for me. I think each area of the UK will offer different kinds of services, so you will have to do some research to find out. In my first session I was assessed with anxiety and depression charters and my therapist decided based on my condition which method was right for me.

C) CAMHS - This is only available in certain areas of the UK, however it's known to be a great and helpful service for people suffering with emotional and behavioral issues. This is a service which again can help you, but I do not have any experience with.

There are many other services out there, but your GP will be the most informative with this topic.

3. Medication
Medication is another option in helping with your health. Doctors seem to try therapy and other methods first before medication. However, if you feel you are in desperate need of it because therapy isn't helping or you feel you need it in conjunction, then you should go to your doctors to discuss your situation. There is a range of medication out there to deal with anxiety/depression and not all of them will work for you. You may need to try a few before it really works. Your Doctor/GP is the best person to talk to and will advise you about what to do.

Recovery is also based upon you. Recovery is extremely hard and there is no denying it. Counselling/therapy and other methods takes will power and can be very hard when you are in a situation like this, however time will pass and you will get there. Keep going, I know you can do it and I know it's hard, but you've got this.

Good luck and best wishes,
Amy x 

What help is available?: Charities

This is going to be a mini series which is going to be spread across many blog posts. I'm probably going to write the most important information you will need if you are suffering from anxiety and any other related conditions. If this helps you, please share it to others. Help is the first step on the way towards recovery.

Charities and organisations

There are many charities and organisations out there which offer advice and support in regards to mental health and other related issues and problems. Here, I'm going to list my favourite charities that I have looked at and used. Of course there are many more than the list below, but these are my top ones:

1. Time to Change - I mentioned this in a previous post. I'd argue that this is the best page around at the moment. Time for change is a campaign that tries to reduce the stigma of mental illness. You can write a pledge, volunteer in real life or online and in turn read people's stories and get help. Click here for the website.

2. Childline - For all of you who are under 18, Childline is also a great refuge. You may think childline is just a support for children who are suffering certain problems, but as a matter of fact childline is there to offer support on just about anything. Not only is there information, but you can chat to a professional which is fully confidential either online or on the phone. Click here for the website.

3. Rethink - Rethink is another mental health charity, which is more about informing you about your condition, people's stories and what you can do to get onto the path of recovery. They also offer crisis links to which you can phone or email, if you feel there is an imminent risk. Click here for the website.

4. Anxiety UK - Anxiety UK is extremely helpful, not only because this is probably the condition you are suffering with, but it also offers detailed information and support. Not only can you learn about the condition, campaign and read each others stories, but you can contact them through phone, email and chat. They also offer therapy services. Personally, I'd find this most useful for information and advice. Click here for the website.

5. Mind - Mind is campaigning for better mental health. Like many other mental health sites it offers a crisis helpline and an info-line. There is lots of information about how you're feeling and how you can take part to improve other people's mental health. Click here for the website.

I hope this information has helped you in some way. Remember to share it to others if you think  they could make the use of information. Don't forget you can contact me through twitter, E-mail or here through the comments.


Amy x

My anniversary

It has been one year to this day that I had my first ever panic attack. Not something to celebrate, but rather a time of reflection. Since that day, I have had a rollercoaster of events. There have been many improvements in this year in regards to anxiety, but there have also been things I've needed to work on. This time last year, I had no clue that I was going to travel down the path that I am now on. Little did I know that my anxiety was going to get worse and that I would have to start from the very beginning. However, if I look at January  when I had my breakdown and couldn't leave the house to now, it shows an improvement. I am gradually getting on public transport, gradually improving my attendance at school, I can leave the house, talk on the phone, ask for things more often, buy things and i'm gradually ending my second break from driving lessons and are soon going to pick them up again. I've also completed my AS levels and managed to overcome a German speaking exam and first aid course along the way! These are only some of my achievements this year, I hope to continue to improve. Recovery is a very hard journey; you can be very confident one minute and not the next. However, I'm working really hard towards full recovery.

I know it is GCSE results day today and I hope that you all got what you deserved and wanted. Remember; grades aren't everything and 'work hard, play hard!' 

Amy xx 

How does anxiety affect you?

Anxiety affects people in many different ways, most of which I have already covered. However I will split them into main sections.


1. Physically
As mentioned before, anxiety can affect your body. For example, sickness, headache, your stomach, sleep, you can become irritable, fidgety, eating less or eating more etc. It changes for everyone. However the problem here is, some of these symptoms represent illness. Even though from the outside people know you are not ill, you can't help but question it yourself. Therefore this increases your anxiety and often stops you from doing the things that you love.

2. Mentally
Anxiety is exhausting. From the minute you wake to the minute you go to sleep, it is with you. It gets extremely tiring. Because of your anxiety, it often means not being able to do the things that you love and want to achieve in life  It makes it extremely hard sometimes to even get out the door. For someone who really wants to strive and do well in life, this is extremely difficult as you feel life is passing you by where as everyone else is out having fun. This mental barrier often leads to depression. Depression and anxiety come hand in hand; if you are depressed you often become anxious and so forth. This again is so debilitating.

3. Relationships
Generally speaking people are really supportive, however there will be some arrogant people out there.
Support is great, however people get tired. Some members of my family don't always understand, and can lose their temper if I can't do something.  Other people will just brush it off and be a bit insensitive with their ways. Family and friends will get tired sometimes and arguments will occur just about your condition, but remember they still want to help you.

Mentally and physically, you do become limited with what you do, but with help you can get there. I'm slowly getting there. You can do it!

All the best,
Amy x 

Do people really understand? (stigma)

These last few posts have been really closely linked, so I'm sorry if they're becoming boring. I promise there will be better posts on the way! I just want you to get the whole picture.

As mentioned in previous posts, some people may not understand and this is why there is stigma, discrimination and bullying.

The problem is, you will only know what it feels like if you experience it. However there are some great people out there such as your therapists, friends and family who will all try their best to understand and support you. However, you could have all of the information in the world on the topic, but still not fully understand.

The best thing you can do to help a person understand, is to try and explain it to them simply. You could use the flight or fight system and so on. Of course, they may still find this weird. After all, panicking about getting into a car may seem strange to another person. The way my mum explained it to my teachers is likening it to a phobia. When I had severe problems with getting into school, my mum explained that it's like having a phobia of spiders. You're scared of them, but you don't know why.

The many people who support you and love you will try their best to understand and even if they don't, they will still continue to support you. As you've read in the last post, there are a few family members and friends that don't understand and have said that to me, but are ever so kind. However, there are people that won't understand and may be quite ignorant about it. That is their problem. Until they've experienced it themselves, they will never know. They may make sweeping statements or get angry. Just ignore it and try to explain to them if they're willing. Not everybody is going to understand your situation, just like not every person understands every single maths problem.

I hope that this last post cleared everything up for you. Not everyone will understand your situation, but may still be supportive. Others may not understand and will just be ignorant. Try your best to explain. It's true that some won't be willing to listen, but most are! You need support throughout your recovery, not people who don't care. This is where you have to be a little bit selfish. Again, because people don't understand they may make a few hurtful comments, just ignore it and brush it off. Keep going!

Amy x

How will people react to me? (stigma)

In the last post we covered the idea of stigma and you would be correct in saying that stigma is a reaction of mental illness. However, in this blog post I want to talk about how people react to your mental illness journey. I've split this into two: People being fed up and people who don't think before they speak.

The people who are supporting you, love you and want to be there every step of the way. Unfortunately, we are all humans and we cannot sustain such support for a long period of time. We all need time to ourselves. What I've found is that occasionally friends and family will become tired, have a shorter temper and want time alone. Just because they are a bit fed up, doesn't mean they love you any less or care for you any less. Some have even indirectly said that they can't take it anymore. They will support you 100% of the time and just because they may be finding it hard to see you suffering, doesn't mean they have stopped supporting. They are just charging their batteries to help you further! Don't give up on yourself. 

Most, if not all have been supportive. However, there have been times when what has been said is possibly inconsiderate and insensitive.  When something inconsiderate is said, I just try to brush it off and argue that it's them who has the problem. For example, I'll speak about my problems, if it's topic of conversation. However when I told about my troubled thoughts, I got told that I wasn't the person to be expected to have these problems, and everything carried on as normal. I put it down to a lack of understanding that leads to a lack of compassion. I've also had comments such as 'it's your fault why you're not doing...(enter activity here)'.


You are not to blame for your situation and I cannot doubt the support I have. However, even though I have great support, people will sometimes say things that they don't think about before hand. However, I cannot just disregard them because of a few comments. They have helped me so much.


Remember, your friends and family have helped you through your hardest times, so don't forget to help them when they're feeling a bit fed up.

All the best!


Amy x 




Stigma

Stigma: 'A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person: "the stigma of mental disorder"'

If there's a word you can think of when mentioning mental health, it is definitely stigma. In fact, this is the main issue when looking at mental health. Many people are really scared of saying anything about their mental health incase they will be judged. This often leads people to danger.

Firstly, there are laws out there which protect people from discrimination, such as the laws about mental health that can be applied in the workplace. However, as you might as well know they aren't always followed. So what else is there? These laws are there for your safety and protection and if you feel you are being mistreated  you can always take it to a tribunal. No one is allowed to make you feel worthless, especially in the eyes of the law.

Secondly, there are many organisations out there that are trying to get rid of mental health as a 'taboo' subject. The most important campaign is 'Time To Change'. You may have seen the adverts on the TV and videos on YouTube, which I advise you check out if you haven't already. There is also a pledge wall which I have signed, along with stories and how you can help - even more resources to make you realise that you are not alone! Anxiety UK, is a great charity too along with childline. But if we're looking at stigma, then 'Time To Change' is the one to look at. 

Stigma is a massive issue when it comes to mental illness. I have had great issues when trying to explain my anxiety and people either not listening, not thinking it's a big deal and just brushing it off as if they don't have to care. But, generally people have been supportive.

Family
In terms of my family, they have been very accepting. They haven't punished me for it, or been ashamed of me. I think this is because I have a very good relationship with my family, but also there are others in the family which suffer from mental illness too. They also saw me suffer before their eyes. With anxiety, it's hard to hide anything. I never really told them; I guess they just knew and/or found out. When they did find out, they didn't treat me any differently. However, there are some members of my family which struggle to understand, which can be aggravating. However without them, I have no idea what I'd do. They have literally saved me and I can never thank them enough for it. Whatever you do, you must talk.

Friends
Through my anxiety, I have realised who my true friends are. I have had some friends who I never thought would help me out, but they have been the best. Most have been supportive. They've talked to me about it for hours, sent me school work and helped me in any which way they can. However, I have only told very few of my friends. I hate to say the reason why, but I guess it's because of the stigma. I'm worried about what they will think and if they will tell others. I've also had many people ask me why I've been off so much from school, but I just tend to reply with 'I have a few problems' or 'just because' or 'when I'm better I will explain' I think it's such a sensitive subject, and I rather keep it close.

Teachers
I never thought my teachers would be so helpful. My Mum and Grandma sent the school cards!  I expect, most if not all of the teachers don't understand my situation and they could easily just say I couldn't be bothered or remove me from the school, but they have been amazing and I can't thank them enough. Whether you like school or not, your teachers will have an impact on you for the rest of you life and you must understand that they are there to help you. If you feel you can't talk to your parents, then talk to your teachers. My teachers have been wonderful by organizing separate rooms for my exams, sending work home, calling me, checking if i'm okay in lessons; the list is endless! The thing I've been most grateful for is that they've talked to me. At the end of lessons they've asked how I am, that they're here if I need to talk and so on. One of my teachers even spoke to me about the stigma. He said 'This first thing you think people are going to think of you is crazy, but that's not true at all.' 

What I'm trying to say, is that yes there will be stigma and it definitely hurts because you know that you cannot help it. But the thing is, it's because people don't understand and this is why I'd really like it to be taught in schools and the workplace. But you have to understand that you are bigger and better than anything anyone can say to you, and you've got this. If I can do it, so can you. I've been to darkest places of life, and I'm slowly getting there. So don't give up, and don't listen to the rubbish people reel out. It is extremely painful and angers you immensely when people say inconsiderate things about your health, but understand you are stronger. Secondly, I know you may be worried about the stigma if you talk about your health, but believe me it's not as bad as you think; there are people out there to support you and it's never as bad as you presume, just look at the support I have had! Yes there have been a few people that have decided to say something, but you're better than that. Do not let the stigma worsen your condition  You must speak to someone, whether it be your family, teachers, friends, or even me. You will be better off with the support.

Amy x