Step back

In everyday life, it's so easy to find yourself lost among routine. Most of the time, we don't even realise we are doing it. Matters that once would've been so small, can turn into something that is life and death within a matter of moments.

It's always important to look at the bigger picture. I always used to get caught up in my education; getting so stressed until it made me ill. I used to get to a point where I thought of it as a life or death situation. As I've gotten older however, I've become more relaxed in that aspect and understood that there is much more to life and there are more options too. If I took a step back from the situation, I could've realised that there is much more to life. And this is the case. There is much more to life, and it's important to notice it. Too often we get swallowed by the pressure of everyday life and often forget ourselves, our friends and our family; what really is important. By taking a step back we are reducing the size of the problem, into something which is more realistic. 

Remember to look at the world from the outside in, rather than the inside out!

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

My year in review 2014

I don't know how I can begin to comprehend the journey that has been this year. If you've been following my blog, you'll know that last year was "hell in more ways than one." You can read more about 2013, here.

Although the year had a rocky start, with my worst depressive episode, it was immensely better than 2013. Anxiety was still a big problem in terms of school, but by beginning a course of medication, life became so much easier. I began to tackle the things that scared me the most. I was definitely pinned to the post between life and death, but I can happily say that this year has been one of the best in a long time, and for that I am forever grateful. 

I don't think you can truly experience the beauty that life holds, unless you have been to the darkest depths. This year, I have felt the fresh air like never before and held on to moments with every last grip. In a way, I can experience life at a new level. This year, instead of having limited positive experiences to talk about, I have too many to list; from getting into university (I have to say, I am having the time of my life), meeting my idol for the second time, being discharged from therapy, conquering some of my anxiety triggers, concerts, travelling; the list could go on.

Never did I think that I would experience happiness again, and even though I still have my bad days, and although I know haven't gotten over my anxiety completely, my life is a world away from the last year. It's almost incomprehensible. Once I was on the tightrope between life and death and now I am living independently and discovering happiness once more. I cannot thank my family, friends and teachers enough, as without them I don't know where I'd be. And of course you, the readers of my blog have been super supportive and for that I thank you. I wrote in last years', year in review that I hoped that the next year would be more of a dream than a nightmare, and my hopes have become a reality. At the beginning of 2013, I couldn't leave the house. And now, at the end of 2014, I am living independently. I never thought it possible, but life is full of twists and turns. You can do it. 

When people ask me what my greatest achievement is out of this continuing process, I have to think. But, my answer always remains the same. "surviving" I say. "Because I never thought I'd see the day." 

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

Do I have long left?

I feel like I'm in a bubble; a bit like another world when I'm at university.

University has made me realise how quickly time does go. The leaving of school and clubs all comes too quickly and before you know it, you're an adult. It's weird to think that once you thought that day will never arrive and yet it does. It's important to remember that.

I find myself constantly reflecting on the past; in a way, I'm looking at how quickly time is going. Even though I find myself doing this, I cannot stop the time from moving forward as much as I'd like it to. 

I think I've come to the conclusion that although time cannot be stopped and you cannot hold onto the moments any more than the seconds that pass by, you can make the most of your time, and you can accept the time that you have. This is all part of life and and as much as we'd like to relive these moments, it is possible to recreate some if we wish. The truth is, life is just made up of moments and it's important to enjoy it as much as we can. After all, who knows when it's going to end; the latest events in my life act as a reminder of that.

To accept is to be content. 

Best Wishes,

Amy Xx

19 things I've learnt

Me; Relief From Anxiety.
Since recently turning 19, I thought it would be a good idea to write down 19 things I've learnt in the 19 years that I've been alive. Perhaps this will act as a bit of memoir to my younger self and to others.

1. Always be yourself. It sounds so cliche but there isn't anything more true. Yes, you may get stick for it, but persevere. It's definitely worth the time. Don't worry about what others think of you.

2. Don't give in to peer pressure. I know it can be extremely hard. But, at the end of the day you will be doing what you want to do with your life instead of spending it living other peoples'. Anyway, a friend isn't a friend if they're making you do things you don't want to do.

3. Family is extremely important. Always make time for them.

4. Some friends will come and go, but there will be those special few that you must hold on to.

5. Love can be beautiful, but it may not last. Don't let it consume you to the point that you cut out everything else in your life. You'll regret it later.

6. Education is the basis of all things. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. I know you may not want to do that homework or revise for the test, but I promise in the end it will pay off. And whether you like it or not, teachers will impact on you for the rest of your days.

7. On the other hand, don't let school consume you. Unfortunately, the government puts a lot of pressure on schools and thus on pupils to do well. Try not become too overwhelmed. Remember your goals and you are your own person.

8. Life can be magical. Sometimes things can happen, which you would never have thought possible. It's beyond comprehension; embrace it.

9. Money isn't everything. Yes you need it to survive, but one day you might get told you only have so much life to live. You'd wish you'd spent it enjoying yourself, being with the ones you love and lessening it's importance, rather than waiting for a rainy day you may now never reach.

10. Be nice to people. You don't know what they're going through. Don't create unnecessary drama, but stand up for what you believe in. 

11. The most toxic thing you can do is to compare yourself to others. It's difficult not to, but in the end "the race is only with yourself". It's your life to lead.

12. The darkest and hardest of times make you appreciate life when you come out of the other side. You are stronger than you think.

13. Give yourself credit. Be proud of your achievements.

14. There are heaters and drains in this world. Don't waste your time hanging around people who are toxic. There are only so many chances you can give.

15. Worrying doesn't improve things in any way. It only makes things worse. The things you worry about the most, highly likely won't even happen.

16. Remember to take a step back now and then. Remember the pillar between life and death.

17. Nature is amazing. Observe it and experience it as much as you can.

18. Time is not a limitless supply.

19. It's true you don't know what you've got until it's gone; cherish every moment. In the end, being surrounded by the people you love and the memories they hold, is the only importance. 

Jon's confidence

Guest blog post from Jon.

How to build confidence when you feel like you don´t have any!

We all want to have an inner sense of confidence, and to live life carefree without any doubts. The problem with anxiety sufferers is that at times we can be full of doubts. So how do you turn things around and start to develop a strong sense of self-assurance?

Learn how to deal with yourself, not the situation
First of all you need to take practical steps in learning how to deal with yourself. In facing situations you find difficult. You can´t wait for confidence or you´ll be waiting forever. So take a deep breath and step outside your comfort zome. Willingly put yourself into situations you try to avoid. Speak up! Accept that you will feel nervous but don´t fight it, just go with it. Act in spite of how you feel. This is the key!

There´s no magic bullet in building confidence. You need to prove your doubts wrong. And then to prove them wrong again and again! By facing situations that make you feel anxious over and over again you will develop that voice inside you that says ¨I can do it!¨

Constantly remember past success
To help this voice grow you need to take note of such moments where you faced your difficulties and overcame them. To do this I recommend you keep a journal. At the end of each day write down the difficult moments you faced and how you dealt with yourself successfully. Also review your past successes daily. This will reinforce an attitude of confidence. Also in your quiet moments such as waiting for the bus you can reflect on your past successes. Remember how good it felt to come through the other side despite how you felt and give yourself a big pat on the back.

And then next time when you are going into a moment you usually find difficult take a moment to think of some of your previous successes and bask in your glory. Really appreciate how great you have done! And then you can go forward into the situation with an inner confidence that you are becoming a stronger person.

Make lists
Another thing which will helps reinforce, and build your confidence and self.esteem is writing down positive thngs about yourself. I recommend making lists of your positive attributes, past achievements, compliments people have given you, and things you´re good at. And then reviewing these lists daily. This will get you into the habit of seeing yourself in a positive light, of seeing yourself as a confident person who holds themself in high-esteem.

These things actually happened. So whenever you are feeling down, and need a little pick me up, you can remember your past successes, or something from your list and you will instantly feel better.

It´s a marathon not a sprint
Becoming a confident person takes time and commitment. By keeping a journal and lists and reviewing them daily, little by little you will transform. And before you know it you won´t even have to think about it anymore, you will just be a confident person. You´ll feel great with an deep sense of satisfaction of having grown into the confident person you deserve to be.

This all takes work. But it´s more than worth it. Seeing yourself change into a more confident, self-assured person is a great feeling. The act of taking control and becoming like this through your own effort is deeply satisfying, and gives you more confidence to go into the future with more enthusiasm. So, don´t wait any longer. Start facing difficult situations, focus on the positive, remember your successes, and start being the confident person you really are!


Just say yes

Generally speaking, saying yes provides more opportunity and better experiences because you're doing something you don't usually do.

Of course the typical difficulty that you and I face, is that sometimes saying yes brings overwhelming fear which means we cannot physically do it, or we may face panic attacks and other struggles.

But, you can do it! By saying yes, you will be undertaking exposure which is what many therapists ask you to do to reduce your anxiety. For example, by saying yes to catching a bus, you are exposing yourself to the situation and ultimately reducing your anxiety in the long run. The more you do it, the less your anxiety until you no longer have it. For example, I can now leave the house, catch buses and ask for things with practically no anxiety. But, there once was a time when I couldn't even walk towards the door.

Do you want to go clubbing?, travelling?, do you want to go to a party? All of these things would provide anxiety for me, but you have to leave it behind as it will. By doing these things, you'd probably have a good time despite your haunting thoughts. You have to try and go with your gut feeling and take a change. Perhaps try and set a goal and say you'll say yes for a few days. See how you feel, even if it may cause anxiety beforehand. I guarantee, that the things you've wanted to do, but have been scared to say yes to, will be fine. 

Of course there are priorities, and you may not be in your stage of recovery where you feel comfortable. I have to say this was the biggest thing stopping me. When my anxiety was quite severe I didn't feel anywhere near ready to be doing the things I am doing now. So, it's totally understandable if you can't say yes to everything right now. Don't beat yourself up about it, I can totally sympathise and understand that mindset. My anxiety still stops me from saying yes to things now, but as time is moving on for me, the more things I am able to say yes to, and I only feel this way because of the stage I am at. It does take time to train your brain to battle the doubting thoughts, so try to be patient and keep going!

If you want to read more about this, you can click here for my Life Vs. Death post.

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

Blogging secrets

A few of you have asked me how to start a blog or how to get followers. I have written below some tips that may help:

1. Topic - You need to have a specific topic or theme with your blog. Is it a lifestyle blog? Is it a beauty blog? If you start with a topic or theme, then you focus all of your attention on that specific area, your readers will know what to expect. As your blog grows, you can slowly develop your blog to other areas.

2. Schedule - I find having a schedule not only helps me to write regularly, but for my readers to know when I have written something new. I know there are sites such as bloglovin where you are automatically updated, but remember not everyone will follow you on these sites. 

3. Twitter - Creating a twitter account specifically for your blog is what I've found as the most beneficial. Through twitter I have found so many new bloggers and most of my readers have found me through twitter too. Without twitter I don't think I'd have the audience that I currently have!

4. Ideas - I always have a list where I keep a note of all of my ideas for my blog posts. I often end up writing quite a few of my blog posts in advance, just in case I don't have time to write them on the day.

5. Design - I have found that some people have amazing designs on their blogs, whereas mine is quite simple. If I'm honest, I haven't quite figured out how to customise everything! Having a design where people can easily find your blog posts and follow you on various sites, makes everything so much easier and more memorable. 

If you any questions or anything you'd like me to write about, leave a comment below!

Best Wishes,
Amy xx

Anxiety is strange

I've always thought that from the outside anxiety seems strange, and many people fail to understand. For many, the struggle to catch a bus and someone getting in a panic about it can seem silly, as for some this presents them with no danger. I often find myself as a 19 year old feeling stupid about what my anxiety affects. Supposedly a 19 year old is to have a job, drive a car and do a range of activities and my anxiety severely hinders this. The changes I have to make to control my anxiety, often makes me feel like an 9 year old, rather than an 19 year old. But even though this is the case, we all have different things we have to battle, and even if this cannot be seen on the outside, there may be a huge fight on the inside.

Generally speaking, the complete panic over going into school for example, seems complete disproportionate, and even above comprehension. I was sat thinking about this the other day. How to an anxiety sufferer, certain situations can take over the whole world in a second and yet others walking past are oblivious and would see no logical explanation as to why it was occurring.

Nevertheless, the thought that I had about this did make me think. But, it doesn't take away the greatness of your struggle, because you and I both know that the battle of anxiety is very real. Everyone has demons to battle and it just so happens that yours is one not in line with the rest of your friends, but that doesn't matter. In the end "the race is only with yourself."

Keep going,
Amy Xx

Suicide

For some this post may be triggering, so please don't feel you need to carry on reading. The charity Samaritans are here to help, you can call them on 08457 90 90 90 (UK)

I've decided to take this step into writing this post because I very rarely see anyone talking about this topic directly. It's always covered up or ignored even though the loss of life is very real. Suicide, which I'm sure many of you are aware of, or have thought about is the taking one's own life. I know for many this post will want to be avoided because you don't want to think about it. But, this is exactly the point. Suicide and it's awareness cannot be ignored for any longer.

Here in England, there is a death every two hours.

This death could be your family member, your friend, your partner, parent or teacher. This is what makes the statistic even more shocking and the worst part is that people still ignore it. Suicide is a very real problem and there is the possibility that someone close to you is experiencing suicidal feelings or has tried to kill themselves. You may not even know and that is the scariest part. Occasionally however, a person may show signs of needing help or even directly asking for help. Please make sure you are a listening ear. Try just to listen, and to not make any comments on the matter. There are signs to be looking out for and ways to help, which you can read about, here.

Suicide isn't always directly connected to a mental health issue and there doesn't need to be a reason for it. Either way, it can still be fatal.

By writing this post, I don't just want to raise awareness, but I want to make sure that you understand something. When we feel suicidal, there is no way out, there is no help, there is often the feeling that no one understands and some people even feel that no one would miss them or love them. But, let me tell you this; people will miss you and people do love you. Whatever you are facing, and for however long, whether it's months or years, you can keep going. Often, the endless pain with no happiness for so long, and even the loss of what we once had leads us to feeling that we don't have the strength to carry on and I know that it is what you experiencing. But, let me tell you even when you feel you are taking your last few breaths, you do have the strength to carry on, there is a way out and it will come in time. Life is very unexpected and one day you will find the light again, and you will enjoy the love of life once more. I don't blame you at all for feeling like you do, but trust me when I say it will get better. Even if what I'm writing sounds like a shot in the dark and completely false, I do know that you can get there. 



Best Wishes and keep fighting,
Amy Xx

It gets better

If you told me on the day that I couldn't leave the house, that I was to move up country and to become independent, I would have thought you were out of your mind. Because back then when my legs wouldn't even allow me to walk towards the front door, when I couldn't even step inside my therapists' office without completely losing control, and seventeen year old Amy had to start from the very beginning, the possibility of even living a full life seemed a day that I would never be able to experience. 

But what I didn't realise, was that as time went on I would slowly improve. With hours of counselling, CBT and medication, I would slowly be rebuilding my life. I would slowly begin to leave the house and walk to the shop at the end of the road. I would be able to catch public transport with friends, then alone, then without panic attacks. The ability to ask for something would become easier and going to the doctors wouldn't be as scary. Getting on a train and taxi by myself, would be something that I could cope with and going to school would eventually be something I could just about handle. My opportunities would grow alongside my achievements and after years I would be able live some sort of a life.

Right now, is a day I never ever thought I'd see, but only only ever dream of. When depression and anxiety were eating me up, I didn't see there ever being a way out. I just want you to understand that you can get there. It's not easy and you may not take any notice of this, because I know I would have thought that it would have been impossible for any of this to ever happen. But it does get better. I am slowly getting there, even though I once thought there was no point in living a life in such a way. But, I've figured after all of this that although this journey takes away opportunities, it gives you so much that you can learn from.

Please keep going,
Amy Xx

A new chapter

I am officially a Law undergraduate; it's strange to hear myself say these words.



I have really been enjoying university so far. It's a world away from home and I'm glad I made the move. I'd be lying if I said anxiety isn't  something I have to cope with on a daily basis, but I'm hoping to continue to tackle it before it becomes too much of a problem in my every day life at university. On the other hand, I have met many different people from all walks of life. I have found that some of these have been through similar issues that I have, which still surprises me, even though one in four experience problems with their mental health in any one year. I'm lucky to have met people who are as understanding.

Meeting new people has meant I was out almost every night for freshers. Although it was somewhat out of my comfort zone, I found a good group of people I could and can have a good time with. It just shows that stepping outside of your comfort zone is something we should all try once in a while. Cooking is still something I am getting used to and I'm sure that I'll get there eventually. But, for the moment I reckon I'm a long way from being the next winner of Masterchef! 


It's been over a month since moving out and yet it feels longer. I already feel I have embraced my independence. Taxis and buses, food shopping, budgeting, cleaning, joining societies and going to see a new doctor are all a main part of my life now. I didn't think I'd ever be able to get my independence back, but I have. I hope that from reading the beginning of my story of anxiety, to reading where I am now will give you hope. 
Once, the sheer thought of getting in a taxi would send panic through my body and stop me from moving and yet, I can now get in a taxi by myself. I know that it can seem that you'll never recover and you'll never be able to do the things you love; I have been there. But, you will get there over time, you just have to ride the wave with the knowledge that there is light at the end. Never be ashamed of your journey; you're not alone. 

I will keep you updated with my university journey and I hope to be back into a blogging routine very soon. Feel free to ask me any questions about my recent move! You can do more than your mind thinks you can.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

I'm off

This is it. In less than a week I will be at university. It's weird to think of because of my poor attendance throughout my A-levels making university seem impossible. Nevertheless, I am going and it just shows that you can still live your life even with anxiety. I have to admit, it's like waking up from a nightmare. I've finally woken up after all of these years and I'm about to start a new chapter. It's been 10 years of battling with my mental health and finally I have made it and I can't quite believe it. Thinking back now, it's like having all of my memories flash before my eyes; all of those days anxiety drained my hope and life, and then the rare light that picked me back up again. I can remember it all as if it were yesterday and it's the strangest feeling. I know that I've not recovered from my anxiety yet, but I am a whole world away from where I was before. I'm sure that university will be a challenge even without anxiety troubles, but will also be the making of me. 

Not only is it weird to think I am moving out soon, because I never thought I'd see the day. But, because I have been quite complacent; I guess I just don't feel old enough yet. Supposedly you never feel old enough anyway, you just learn how to deal with things; no one really knows what they're doing! Not only that, but I have to leave my friends and family behind. I know it's not forever, but I won't see them as often. I don't want that to come any quicker than needs be. 

I'd much rather go now than experience the hell which was my anxiety at school for another year. I'll never forget the people who've made this possible for me and who've kept me going during the darkest of times. I appreciate it more than words can say.

I guess it's time to start packing! It's time to move on and begin another journey. Let's hope it's more of a dream than a nightmare this time!

You can do it!

Amy Xx

I won't be able to post much over these next few weeks whilst I get used to the move to university. I hope you understand! 

Coping in sixth form

I received a tweet the other day about how to cope in sixth form. I've gathered some general tips and also ones which can help if you suffer with anxiety whilst in sixth form. Of course this can be applied to other areas of education and work too.

Sixth form is quite a big jump away from traditional school life. Many sixth forms including mine didn't have a uniform, you have more free hours, you have to do a lot of private study and the biggest change is the amount of work. The work definitely increases in difficulty and the amount that has to be completed, but within a few months you can get used to it.

My top tips:

1. Be organised - this is important for people from all walks of life. Being organised is the key to success. I used to have a folder for each subject with sub dividers. I made an extra study timetable and made sure I had my diary to make a note of any assignments. I tried to do any extra work I was set as soon as I got it to make sure I didn't get stressed trying to complete it the night before. If you feel you need extra time to complete a piece of work, don't forget to ask your teachers. Secondly, if you miss any school make sure to catch up. Teachers are usually more than happy to help you, along with getting work from your friends. This is what I did for the majority of a year!

2. Talk - Going into sixth form is a whole new experience, which can be exciting if not a little daunting, especially if you're going somewhere new. Always make sure you talk and have someone to talk to, whether that be your friends, family or teachers. If you feel you are struggling with your mental health, make sure to tell your teachers. They may be able to put a range of things in place to make your school life just that little bit easier. I understand that talking to teachers can be something that you'd rather avoid, but the more they know the better they can help you.

3. Extra study - my school always said to do an extra hour of independent study per subject per day. I know for AS level that can seem impossible. Even some of my teachers argued that it was impossible and that you needed a life too! This is true, but I promise you if  you try to stick to a routine of doing extra study from the very beginning; whether that be making revision notes, revising or doing homework, you will reap the benefits and your grades will soar. It's true to say that if you don't do the work you won't get the grades at the end. A levels are hard work! But make sure to have a break, to look after your mental health.

4. Take a break - I focused a lot on my school work with extra study and although it may have paid off, you do need to take a break to look after yourself. At GCSE I worked way too hard and I completely burnt out. It's so important to keep stress levels at a minimum and have fun! That way, you'll be keeping your mental health on an even keel. You can retake exams, but you can't retake your mental health.

5. Precautions - Remembering that sixth form is a lot more causal than traditional school, is important. The school tends to treat you more as adults now and thus you have more freedom in what you do. Of course there are limits, but I found that not being as restrained helped my anxiety. If you feel your anxiety is going to play a part in your school life, then it's important to think about any precautions to take if it does occur, such as breathing techniques, asking to leave, triggers of panic attacks and if possible to let your teachers know. This is the same if you find yourself getting stressed too and so forth. You have more freedom now to do what is best for you.

Remember mental health matters. Over my years of schooling, I've learnt how the pressure of the education system can really damage you. Although grades are important, they aren't the be all and end all. I too often have been buried under the stress and although it's hard not to be, you need to look after yourself first. You must focus on your goals and not on that of the educational system; everyone's different. As time goes on, I'm trying to learn to ease the pressure on myself by caring for myself more than the exams; that's something I never used to do. Do your best, work hard, look after yourself and try to enjoy what you're studying; after all education is supposed to be fun and about finding passions to broaden your world. That's all anyone can ask of you. Go for it!

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

I'm seven years old

I was watching a show on TV called 'The Speakmans' who help people get over their fears and phobias.  I found this one line that was very interesting. At the time, a lady was being interviewed by the Speakmans, as she had a phobia of taking medication. She was currently on dialysis and still wouldn't take any medication. It occurred to her that her phobia began when she was around seven years old. As a result they interviewed some seven year olds about their view on medication and saw how simplistic their answers were and in fact how positive. They were then asked about the prices and definitions of some words such as tax and insurance and how they had no awareness or understanding, as would be expected. Thus she was taking advice from her seven year self, even though a seven year old doesn't have a massive grasp on the world around them. The advice isn't what you should be listening to.

My problems began at around seven and this literally stopped me in my tracks. I thought that this is exactly what I'm doing. Every time I try to run away from something due to health anxiety or any other type of anxiety, it's my seven year old self. I must remind myself that I am 18 and I am fully aware that no danger is present. Although this is hard, it is definitely a ground breaking moment and has really affected me!

What about you?

Best wishes,
Amy Xx

#AskAmy

To celebrate 40,000 views on my blog, I thought I'd do a Q&A. Here are my answers to your questions!

1. Do you feel like you have improved/grown as a person since you started blogging? Anna
Definitely. I think as we grow older, we all develop anyway. But it's nice to be able to document it through my blog. I've met so many new people who are going through the same thing as me. I've improved my writing skills and have gotten various opportunities out of being a blogger. Helping so many different people has been one of the most beneficial things I've done; it feels good to use my experience to help others. Through my blog, I've watched myself grow from the times of my most severe anxiety and depression, through my ups and downs and to where I am now on the road to recovery. My blog has definitely helped me to think things through and I don't regret it at all.


2. What's the best ways to cope with anxiety and best advice you have ever been given? MK Dude
I have written a blog post about the ten top tips to cope with anxiety, here. I have a few pieces of advice that have stuck with me throughout my battle with anxiety. A fellow anxiety sufferer called Baylee once gave me this piece of advice: "The best advice I can give is just to be as accepting of your anxiety as possible. Don't push through attacks, don't get down on yourself and don't feel like you're being robbed of living. Your anxiety is happening for a reason and it's molding you into such a strong person. You got this." Alongside that I've always kept in mind some advice from my Mum: "I have the same right to be on this planet as anyone else." And whenever I am about to face a difficult situation, my Auntie has always told me to "kick ass". Surprisingly it really works to build your confidence!

3. How're you feeling about going to university? Have you spoken to your uni's disability office & sorted out DSA etc? Alex C
University is a massive step for me and one I didn't believe I would ever be taking a few months ago; in a way I'm proud of that. I'm both really excited and terrified at the same time. Moving out, meeting new people, studying a subject I love, budgeting, taking part in new sports and new opportunities is all something I have to look forward to. I've sorted out everything to do with my anxiety as a disability including DSA. The support team at my university seem so lovely and I'd strongly advise you to use the services that are available to help you. Don't be afraid at reaching out.

4. Where are you? Do you go to support groups? Amy
I'll be moving to another part of the UK very soon to study Law at university, and as of yet I haven't been to any support groups. I think my support group is my friends, family and here on twitter. I don't think I'd feel comfortable being in a support group either as it would just increase my anxiety. Although, I know that many people prefer them.

5. If you're going to ask yourself one question that you find hard to answer, what is it? Angeline Lim
Perhaps this question?! No, this is a difficult one to answer. I am a very philosophical person and a person that thinks deeply. Sometimes it can be hard to switch off! I suppose a really difficult question would be "what is the meaning to my life?" I know I have asked myself that during my depths of my anxiety and trying to search for answer through all of it. I'd like to come to an answer that was certain, such as 'happiness' but I don't think we'll ever know. It's an individual journey and sometimes it annoys me that I cannot find an answer. I suppose just trying to be the best version of me is the way forward. Figuring out the answer to the beginning of the universe and why we're all here, will come in time!

6. What is your reaction about Robin William's death? Angeline Lim
I think it's extremely tragic. I remember watching him on TV as a child, as I can imagine all of us did. It just highlights the fact that even the people we think have no problems, who seem happy and have great lives, can be in the darkest depths on the inside. It reiterates how serious mental illness is. If I recall, Robin 
reached out for help many times, but he just couldn't cope. If anything is learnt from this, it's to take mental health more seriously including battling the stigma and providing more care. 

7. Have you ever read a book that has been transformative for you when struggling with anxiety? Steven Colborne
It's more quotes which have helped me through my battle with anxiety in terms of anything literature related. But, my Auntie did recommend a book called 'Feel the fear and do it anyway', which is quite a well known book. I read some of it and it did help me to rethink a little. Although I must admit I haven't read all of it yet! 'The Perks of being a Wallflower' has some very poignant points with life lessons, the same as 'The fault in our stars'. They are both fiction, but both make you think about life and how we live it. Both the books and the film versions have comforted me, especially 'Perks of being a Wallflower'. It follows a group of friends in which one of them is battling their mental health throughout adolescence.

8. How to spread mental illness awareness? Dearieda
There's so many different ways! I guess it's approaching people which can be the hardest. You can spread mental health awareness through talks, holding charity events, teaching yourself, writing blogs, making posters, even telling your friends about what the reality of mental illness is really about. Anything you can do, can make a massive difference.

9. Despite anxiety being so hard to deal with, do you think it's made you who you are now and made you stronger? Danielle Rolfe
Looking back now, I think my anxiety was always going to come to a head. My battle with anxiety made me start from the beginning, a bit like a newborn child. One who had to relearn everything she's ever known. It has definitely made me so much stronger. Trying to keep going when you've lost everything you've loved and even the ability to even leave the house, makes some very dark days. Experiencing those moments and the thoughts of giving up and keeping going makes you stronger every time. It doesn't necessarily make it easier, just makes you stronger as person. Of course, I would never wish this on my worst enemy and I definitely wouldn't be the same person I am now, if I haven't been through what I have. As one of my idols once said to me "imagine each person as having a tank. Your tank will be fuller and stronger than others because of what you've been through. You can use that to help you in later life." I find this so true. I do look at things differently to others and in a way my anxiety has made me stronger than others even though it may be one of my weakest areas.

10. What is the best way to get through to anxious people stuck in "a loop" who seem not to take in your caring help? Miranda de Barra
This is a tough question. Anxious people do tend to be stuck in a loop because they are too anxious to do otherwise. Anxiety can be so overwhelming, even the best of advice might not work. It's difficult because what got me out of it was medication. I think the best thing you can do, is just to let them know that you are there for them and you will help them in any way you can. I promise you, we aren't ignorant or rude, our anxiety just takes over. If possible, try and get them professional help or show them the options available. I can assure you that they are very grateful for the support.

11. How do you find social situations with your anxiety? Pubs, Clubs Parties etc. Any techniques for facing these environments? Alex C
When my anxiety was it's most severe, I wouldn't take part in any social situations. Now, I can take part, but I'd be lying if they didn't make me anxious. Generally speaking pubs and catching the bus, presents little to no anxiety. But clubs and parties can be can still make me somewhat anxious. The main technique I use is breathing and just giving it a go.

12. This is my question: Would you #standupagainstdepression? Elena
Of course! There is no doubt. With myself and many family members being affected, means it's close to my heart.The more awareness we can raise, the better.

13. I have allegrophobia and a fear of crowds, how so I overcome them? They are quite bad. Any tips on your fears? @B_acting
I think it's important to have a few techniques you can use during the situation, which I have listed in some of my blog posts. Counselling such as CBT can help immensely. Perhaps starting off with small groups and then slowly building up? In terms of my fears, I have managed to overcome a fair few of them such as going to school and catching public transport. Yes, they still represent some difficulty, but I am better than before. I am still yet to get over my fear of my driving test!
 For me, it required exposure to the situation and time. Medication has helped immensely as well as training your brain to have belief in yourself.

14. How do you break free from old negative thought patterns? Flowerpot
I think it starts with training a negative into a positive. So instead of saying "I will never not be tired" you'd say "I will always feel refreshed" Of course, this is a very basic example, but by looking at the situation with a positive, it gives a different effect. It takes a lot of work to train your brain, but you can do it. I used to write myself a positive speech to read to myself every morning. It's proven to work!

15. How do you get back on track after a relapse of anxiety? Alison Wright
I think it's very important not to be hard on yourself. Relapses of anxiety are completely normal. Make sure you take some time to yourself and don't throw yourself into situations that are going to knock your confidence. Start off small and build back up again. I also wrote things down and took a note of how my anxiety was.

16. Can you cure it once and for all? Kman
I'd like to think so. I know many people who have recovered and have almost recovered from their anxiety, including me. It's possible.

Best wishes and thank you for following my journey!
Amy Xx

Bad days

I know when I write this blog I tend to appear to be positive, which can sometimes give a rose tinted view of my own situation. 

Many of you will know that anxiety is not an easy thing to go through in everyday life. Not being able to do the things that others can because the anxiety is that overwhelming, is extremely frustrating and saddening. Those of you that have anxiety will also know that doubtful thoughts are very hard to over power no matter how many people say "you'll be fine" or "you're in control". It's easier said than done.

Everyone in life gets a bad day, where things go wrong. But with anxiety, a bad day can be titled when it just overwhelms you, and when you can't do anything. We all get those bad days. There is many a time when I cannot cope, when I have a bad day, when I cannot leave the house and when I can't do things my friends are doing. I know that many of us suffering with anxiety get this and some have said that this blog shows I am coping. Yes this helps, but I am not immune from bad days and recovery is a journey with bumps in the road. I am just like you.

It's perfectly normal to have bad days. It doesn't mean you've gone right back to the beginning, so don't be hard on yourself if you're not doing as well as you have hoped. We all must keep going; even if you feel like you've gone back to square one. It's just a step back, you've come so far already.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

I can't be happy

How many times have you heard someone say to you to "just be happy" or to "cheer up" and yet it feels like an impossibility? I know we all have down days; when we feel sad and tired and times when little words of encouragement and doing what we love can make us feel a whole lot better. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

There have been so many occasions where people have said to me, to "just think positively, when you do that your whole mindset will turn around." As much as I tried, I just couldn't think positively. I just couldn't change my life around. Thus, when someone says to you to just be happy, some people just feel they can't. It's not through a lack of trying that people feel this way. After all, who would want to be in darkness for their whole life?

Depression is something that many people describe as a black hole which can't be climbed out of, a weight on a sunny day, when everything is going well in life, but yet you cannot get out of bed in the morning.

Depression takes away the ability to do what you love. It is a real illness, which many scientists believe is based upon a chemical imbalance. Depression can physically stop you from doing things. You can begin to eat more or less, becoming more tired and angry, or struggle to sleep. You can lose interests in the things you once loved. You can lose concentration and have suicidal thoughts. From the inside the person may feel utterly hopeless and doesn't want to talk to anyone or do anything. They will be in turmoil. A complete lack of lust for life. This isn't ignorance, this is just the sheer lack of capability to face anything without feeling like you're going to explode.


For many on the outside and who have never experienced depression, I can understand how it is difficult to accept why people just can't do things. But, even if you don't understand it's important to be patient and to be there for the person. The worst thing you can do is be confrontational towards them as this just makes it worse and pushes the person further into the darkness than need be. Often when you're depressed you feel isolated and alone, and you need to just be there to look after them until they feel ready to face the world again.

Depression is a serious illness and needs to be regarded with importance. Please don't brush it aside. Don't forget to get professional help if you or someone you know is really struggling. You've got this.

Best wishes,
Amy xx

The gender debate

When you mention mental illness, I reckon the majority of people would see it affecting mainly women. The general stereotypical view is that women are caring and sensitive and men have to be macho (believe me, I want to get rid of these stereotypes as much as the next person does) Men feel that they often have to hide their feelings and supposedly that this is why men don't tend to seek help for their mental health issues, but it is extremely important to do so. 

I was watching the TV the other day and Mind were being interviewed, explaining that the suicide of men outnumbered women 3:1 in the last few years and which can be understood due to the lack of willingness to reach out. If this blog post does anything, it's to raise awareness of the mental health issues that men can face in the same severity as any woman can. They deserve to seek help if they need it.

There is no point in risking your health over some society's construction about being a 'real man' because we'd all rather have health than living up to some unwritten expectation.
So, if you know of a man that may be experiencing mental health issues, share this post and let them know that it's okay. Men suffer with mental health issues too and it's crucial for you to get help; you're not inferior for doing so.

Best wishes,
Amy xx

The end?

What a difficult few years it's been, but I can proudly say that I've gotten into university to study Law; which has been my lifelong ambition.

If you have read my blog post about my struggles with school, you'll know that I've missed around a year of my A-levels. But, I was still extremely determined to get the grades in order to get to university. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten into my first choice university as I didn't get the grades and they weren't going to give any leeway either. And as much as I wanted to go to that uni (a lot!) I still managed to get my insurance choice, so it's still somewhere I'd like to go.

I was absolutely devastated when I found that I didn't get into my first choice university, devastated. And at the time, it wasn't confirmed that I was into my insurance choice either, so I was very lost and angry at myself. I don't think the outcome would have mattered as much to me, if I had been at school full time without any troubles with my mental health. But these last few years and my battle with anxiety has been absolute hell; taking away my education and opportunities. Everything I loved became everything I lost. I worked so hard to even step inside the school gates and to keep on going, and not doing as well as I hoped, was destroying.

But, what I must take from this is a greater sense of self worth. I managed to get into university, which a few months back would've been impossible, let alone taking my A-levels. It would've been completely out of the question. I am disappointed, but I must be proud of the fact that I can say that I couldn't have worked any harder and that these are my results at the end of it. If I didn't work as a hard, I wouldn't be where I am. I must put into retrospect that my grades are good considering my attendance. Not only that, but I mustn't be as hard on myself; not everyone can be the best all of the time. I've always been seen as a "bright" and hard working student, and as my anxiety got hold, my grades began to drop and I began to lose the very thing I was really passionate about; making me feel stupid. As hard as that is, I am where I am and I am who I am. No matter what the hardships, I know my triumphs and that is what I must hold dear, no matter of others opinions. At the end of the day, life doesn't always go to plan and you may feel you haven't got the justice you deserve, but it's something you have to grow with and sometimes that may be for the better. 

It's time to begin the next chapter of my life. I am both excited and terrified. I hope you will all follow the journey with me!

(And would you believe it, I'm currently writing this blog post whilst travelling on a train by myself! Who would have thought it?!)

Finally, If you're going through a severely difficult time, keep going. I was so distraught, but I held on and now I'm here. Something I would never have thought possible. I have been where you've been and I know what it's like. It can get better.

I'm proud of you!

Best wishes,
Amy xx

Summer series: France

On the way back from my cycle through Germany (You can still sponsor me!) I went to France for a day or so.

I've always loved France and it's always been a childhood memory of mine. We stayed overnight in a place called Lille. Although it has maintained it's culture, it's pretty expensive. Unfortunately I didn't buy very much, apart from when I went to the market. The morning market there reminded me of an old market which would perhaps be found in London. Unfortunately, the markets where I live don't resemble this as much. It was so busy and so nice to see people buying all their fresh food and handmade gifts, which seemed like such a blast from the past.

In the evening we found the best Cafe I have ever been to. It was so old and rustic, with posters of old singers and movie stars all over the walls. There was an old fashioned juke box and vinyls everywhere. I ended up buying a vinyl by 'The Arrogants' which was actually the son's band of the Cafe owners. As well as that, a well known Belgian DJ played vinyls all night, whilst we spoke to some lovely French people. I just loved the atmosphere. I must say though, I did feel slightly out of place as I know next to no French! 

I've included some pictures below. Let me know what you think.

There may not be a blog post next Thursday as it's A-level results day. Next Thursday I will know whether I will be going to university or not; wish me luck! I hope all of the hard work has paid off and I have been a victor over my anxiety >:) You can read more about my battle with anxiety and school, here. Good luck to all who are also getting results!

Best Wishes
Amy Xx






Compulsory education

I wrote a few months back about mental health in academia or rather the lack of it. This post is going to be focused more on the need for it rather than the pressures and protection.

I've been wanting to write this post for a while and is something which I am extremely passionate about, due to my own experience of mental health in the education system. However, what had sparked this post was a tweet from @Mentalhealth_ed who have set up petitions to the secretary of education, to make mental health in education compulsory. You can visit their website, here.

You see, mental health is extremely common, with 1/4 experiencing a mental health problem in any one year. More importantly though, 1/3 in every school class will experience a mental health problem. That's the same probability as some physical illnesses and yet, mental health is still not addressed as important or fatal, which of course it is.

The anatomy of the body is taught in biology, but yet mental health is left out of it. Furthermore, in personal development there is the discussion of drugs, alcohol and sex to an extent which may or may not be successful, but yet no talk of mental health. Until you go to school, you are surrounded by your families opinions, and at such an influential age this is all you really know. Thus this is where school becomes an important information source. With young people spending more time in education than outside, surely it's highly important to prepare them for future life and everything that can come their way. By educating early, we can get people to really understand the reasons and reality to mental health. In this way then we can battle the harmful and horrific stigma of the straight jackets, murderers and schizophrenics. 

If we aren't going to learn about this in education, then where will we learn it? We won't learn about it in the community, because many still believe in the myths. They aren't educated on mental health, which isn't always their fault; it's what they've been socialised into. I have written a lot more about the stigma, here and whilst we are working on the government, you can voluntarily read about the myths, here.

It's not just the education during these school years, but the importance in noticing how many pupils go through mental health problems. With mental health in schools still being taboo due to the lack of education, many will keep their mental health a secret as it is seen as 'bad' and this is extremely dangerous. Many teachers don't have the knowledge of how to act and pupils don't know how to act around them with only knowledge of stereotypes. With it being so common, not only do we need to teach to get others to understand, but to support those suffering. We must let them know it's okay to talk and you shouldn't suffer in silence.

Many of you retweeted my tweet about mental health and education, which is amazing; it just shows how many people see compulsory mental health in education as important. Please help us to raise more awareness and change the current situation by sharing this blog post, and using the hashtag #compulsorymentalhealth on twitter.

Let's just give ourselves one last reminder. Mental illness kills and destroys. Physical health is attributed with the same statistics and has more attention paid to it, but the same if not worse consequences can occur from a mental health condition. People have lost and are losing friends, family members, colleagues, sons and daughters, mums and dads due to the mental illness that is eating them away and yet this still isn't regarded as important enough to educate about. Because there aren't straightforward scientific methods to determine the diagnosis of these conditions, it's brushed aside. Because you can't see internal bleeding or a lack of white blood cells, it's regarded as inferior. But, let me ask you this; would a person stay in hell if they had the chance to leave?, would there be tears running down their face with absolute dread in their eyes, with a racing heartbeat if they weren't trying to get over the fear attributed with their mental health condition? It's time to face the fact that mental health does exist. We know that it can be a chemical imbalance and we can see from the outside the absolute turmoil in people's behaviour. Now's the time to educate, to get rid of the stigma and to save lives. 

You probably know someone who is suffering with mental illness or are yourself. Please sign the petitions to improve peoples lives for the future. 

Best wishes,
Amy xx

Summer series: Belgium

On the way back from my cycle through Germany (you can sponsor me here) we visited Belgium. It was my first time in Belgium and I have to say it's intriguing to say the least. I did see some weird and wacky things.

I only spent two days in Belgium, but during that time we visited Ghent and Brussels. Brussels was the place I really wanted to see, but it was very touristic; full of souvenir shops. However there were some great chocolate stores and a lovely cheese store called 'Tonton Garby's cheese store' where he made home made sandwiches and who is the friendliest person I have ever met. If you ever go to Brussels, make sure to say I recommended you. (The food was great too!)

I much preferred Ghent, which had kept more of it's culture. On the night we arrived, it was the last day of the Ghent music festival to which 200,000 had been to the night before. The atmosphere was electric and there were so many diverse characters. I also managed to find the best vintage shop ever. There was so much variety, at such a good price. I ended up buying four items, which I will do a post about later on. The pubs and bars are a world away from anything like the UK; so full of character, quirkiness and the best music. The trams were also pretty cool and so were the churches; in which I lit a candle and watched the most beautiful church choir sing; angelic! In one of the churches there was also a 'thought tree' in which I left a note about my blog. If any of you find it, let me know! On the last night however, my dad managed to drop my shoe in the canal, slightly funny but I was then shoeless. At least I get a new pair!

Whenever I go on holidays, it makes me reflect. I came to realisation that this is what life is all about; traveling, experiencing and enjoying. I found myself thinking about getting stuck in the same routine and how refreshing this break was. In everyday life, you never get a chance to look outside yourself because we're always so absorbed. The little anxiety voice in my head telling me to not do things was silenced for a while too; I thought 'just do it'.

I've included some pictures below.

Best wishes,
Amy xx






Summer series: Germany in Mind

Germany is the third installment of my summer travels, which many of you know I did in partnership with the charity, Mind. I have just completed a five day cycle for the charity alongside the Moselle river in Germany. You can still sponsor me for my cycle, here and help Mind continue the amazing work they do for those struggling with mental health. I appreciate any donations a tremendous amount; we've managed to raise over £150 so far. Thank you so much!

It was a long road trip to get to Germany, including travel through the eurotunnel to France, then Luxembourg, Belgium and finally Trier in Germany, in which I cycled an average of 40 km a day for five days.

Having been to Berlin a few years back, I saw Germany as a very modern place. However, this part of Germany in which I cycled is much more beautiful; a bit like being in a movie. Throughout Trittenheim, Zeitlingen, Tries, Zell and Koblenz, there are hundreds of vineyards and historic quirky towns all situated alongside the busy Moselle river. There was always something new to see and plenty of nature. It's one of those places in which the pictures just don't do it justice. 

Germany is definitely a cycling country; there were bikes everywhere and miles dedicated to it. The people were also extremely friendly, greeting us with 'morgen' and 'Hallo' wherever we were. We often met some lovely people who we spent a few hours chatting to at a time. It appears however, they tend to drink a lot of fizzy, as the traditional drinks found in England were non existent and the only water was 'mit kohlensaure', which created some funny translation situations. Ice cream is also a massive thing in Germany, that alongside the infamous bratwurst and apfelstrudel. We were very lucky with the accommodation too.

In terms of my anxiety, it was pretty good! I do think the exercise was beneficial in all of it. My health anxiety improved as time went on and I managed to find the confidence to do a bit of translation and ordering using my knowledge of German too. By the end of the week though, my legs were almost dead. The cycling mixed with the heat created a difficult combination; I don't think I've felt as tired as I have over these past few days!

I have included some pictures below; let me know what you think. Don't forget, you can still sponsor me too. If you have any questions about Germany or Mind, don't hesitate to comment.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx