#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