My year in review 2015

It's that time of year again where I review my past year. I've done this for the previous two years, which can be read here and here.

It's been another intense year with ups and downs but many achievements. I finished my first year studying Law at university and moved into the second with a pass rate I am very pleased with. University has been the best choice I have made as I have made so many great friends, become independent and battled my anxiety head on. I have some amazing memories and laughs from this year which I will never forget.

I have been to numerous concerts and met my idol for the third time, reached a one year anniversary, had many nights out and great times with friends and family and moved into my own house!

This Summer has been a massive achievement for me. I travelled back from Germany to London completely alone, worked in a charity shop for two months, did a weeks work experience in a law firm, held my blogger meet up and did lots of travelling. I also took my driving test for the first time, but unfortunately failed. Nevertheless, because it is one of my biggest anxiety triggers I am so proud I took it. I retook my driving test for the second time and passed! A three year battle which I've won!

Of course, as with any year there have been battles that had to be conquered and I've still battled my anxiety and depression this year and some stages were definitely more tough than others. But, I have felt that by going to university the struggle has lessened. As I look back at my years in review, it's encouraging to see the improvement over time. I still continue to work with it and battle it and I'm hoping that maybe even next year I will be able to come off of my medication. 

I am immensely proud of this year and what I have achieved. You can do it!

Facebook is fake?

Comparison and competition on a daily basis can be hard enough without the influence of social media. However, social media is such a huge and normal part of our lives that sometimes I don't think we can see the damage it is doing.

Throughout the years of my mental illness journey, I have noticed that I have't always been at the same stage as my peers and this can be another mental battle to add to the list. Using social media on a regular basis has given me the information to feed this comparison culture that many of us have engrained. This not to say that social media is bad, because I find it very useful. I am constantly using it and it's a great way to keep up to date, share photos and meet other like-minded people. I think it's great! But, as reminder, we have to look at the issues it can create. 

The main point here is that people pick and choose what goes on social media and generally speaking it is the best bits. You don't see the bad days, the things that didn't go too well or the break-ups. You see the good bits; the holidays, the passing of driving tests, the academic success and the closeness that they have with friends. Of course, even this can be façade; they may hardly speak to their 'Facebook' friends for example. Social media to an extent must be taken with a pinch of salt and with an understanding that this person's life that looks so perfect, is only a snippet and on a lot of occasions may only be for the show of virtual friends. In this way, the comparisons we make with another may not be accurate nor fair. It's also important to remind yourself that you are on your own journey, and the 'race is only with yourself.'

Don't get me wrong, we can all get caught in this trap. However, when social media starts to do damage with comparisons and competition to our mental health, it's time to take a break and remember that no one's life is perfect and social media can be fake.

What do you think?

I travelled the world with my anxiety

Well I didn't exactly travel the whole world as the title suggests, but I did manage to find my way from Germany back to London completely alone with anxiety right by my side. 

Actually, travelling anxiety has never been a major issue for me. However, battling my health anxiety and travel has. I once couldn't get on any form of transport in the fear I wouldn't be able to leave. Fortunately, with the help of CBT and medication, that fear is almost completely gone. Travelling is also something I love to do and I have traveled alone on various occasions. However, I have never gotten two trains in a different country on my own and gotten on a plane on my own, and this is something which I had to do to get out of the situation I was in whilst I was in Germany. I thought I would give you all some insight as to what it was like.

Travelling on the two trains themselves wasn't too much of an issue, it was more the worry of being on the right train and not knowing every aspect of the Germany language. However, pushing my anxiety out of my way, I managed to ask multiple times whether it was the right train and where my stop was (even some was spoken in German!) When I left my final train, I then had the ultimate struggle - to find my way through Munich airport, which is split into two massive and separate sections in which I got utterly lost. Luckily I was a fair few hours early, and I managed to find someone who could point me in the right direction. Even after been given instructions, I still got a little bit lost until I finally found the security checks. I would be lying if I said I wasn't at all anxious being alone in a massive queue, but I was pretty calm for travelling and being alone. Knowing that I had to rely solely on myself to get home, was fairly scary. However, going on a fair few planes in the past helped me to be acquainted with the situation too. After going through security I was out into duty free (woooooo!) and I just had to find my gate to my plane, which I luckily did. I got onto the plane wondering how the hell I managed it. 

If this experience has taught me anything, it's that you are way more capable than you can ever imagine and if you need to do something, you will. I never thought I could do it, but luckily I arrived safe and sound and I am proud!

You can do it!

Everything is on your terms

I find as an anxiety sufferer, that we often think of the worst that can happen and how out of control things could become. This is the nature of the illness. And even though there are things we cannot change, such as the time, family and weather, there are billions of things that can be changed and can be controlled.

At the height of my anxiety, I felt a severe lack of control with the thought that I had no capability at doing anything and everything would go wrong. However, as of the past year I have taken a different outlook. I have understood and practiced that everything is on my terms and it helps me to stay in control and for my anxiety to reduce. For example, if I am in a driving lesson and I want to end it, I can simply state that. If I am working in the charity shop and I feel an urgency to leave, I can ask, if I am on a bus, I can get off and If I am at a party and want to leave, I can get a taxi home. It's all about understanding that in every situation, you have the ability and right to do what you want to do to make yourself most comfortable and to know you are empowered to make these decisions (to the extent of not hurting those around you of course!) I think if you wake up everyday with the understanding that you are in control of whatever comes your way, you will be able to reduce the anxiety and this is what I keep in mind all of the time. Why not try it? In fact, this particular picture is stuck on my wall to remind me!

Journey of depression

Unlike some people, my depression came about as a result of my severe anxiety that I faced. However, I would say that my suicidal thoughts and depression were felt as young as the age of 15, before my anxiety even became such a detrimental problem. At the time, I didn't tend to pay much attention, I just knew that I was in a very dark place at times. Luckily, these were far and few between until my breakdown at the age of 17.

As soon as my anxiety became so severe that I couldn't leave the house, my depression crept in and took over my whole being and there was nothing I could do about it. Everything in my life was taken away by my anxiety including school, friends, driving, picking up the phone, answering the door and even walking to the end of my road. I couldn't do anything and to be stuck inside and incapable of doing anything triggered my depression to a severe extent.

It's difficult to describe what depression is if you haven't experienced it yourself, but I have tried my best to summarize it, here

It was when the sky was blue and yet everything was dark. For me, it meant not caring for my appearance, always wearing black, having sleeping troubles, always feeling tired, having no motivation to do anything I loved (not that I had much ability to do that anyway!), loss of weight, endless crying, hysterics, not being able to get out of bed, loss of control, suicidal thoughts and some self harm. I was in a very troubled and dangerous place for my existence. The depression and mental health struggles I faced were absolute hell, and I was often pulled between the pillars of life and death on a regular basis. Keeping going was an immense struggle. However, I am glad I did.

I remember days and days where I wouldn't be interested in anything and I would just sleep to get some rest bite. I also remember times when my counselor had to come to my home because I was in such a terrible depressive state that I couldn't get outside. I must admit I hated filling in the depression and suicidal forms when I felt in such a bad way. But, I know they were there to look after me, along side my family, friends and teachers and I thank them greatly. 

Nowadays, as my anxiety has reduced and I am on medication, my depressive episodes are few and far between. However, I can find depression creeping up on me randomly and for no reason at all. Unfortunately, depression runs in the family and this is something that I continue to battle.

For those of you who know what depression is like, you'll know exactly what I have and can go through and for those of you that haven't, I hope you never ever have to, but please still educate yourself on this matter. For all of those fighting the immense struggle, please keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I was once in your position and now I am well on my way to recovery. I know you can do it too. Trust me on this!

Keep going - life can be beautiful.

Tips for a good day!

Here's my top tips for a good start to the day!

1. Music - brighten your morning with your favourite upbeat songs or favourite playlist. I have created a morning playlist which helps me to get going in the morning. Music can really affect your mood and it's always great to have little dance whilst you're getting ready.

2. Look after yourself - You always feel better if you put a little bit more effort into your appearance. Of course, this is subjective. For me however, it's paying more attention to my outfit, hair, makeup and hygiene. I always feel more ready for the day that way.

3. Breakfast - having a good breakfast is always a good start. Not only for your health, but in getting yourself ready for the day. It provides energy, but also helps you to have some sort of routine.

4. Yoga - I always find that doing some yoga in the morning is a great start to the day. Not only does it get the blood pumping, but wakes you up. It also helps to get you in the right mindset. If course, there are other types of activity that may work in the same way for you.

5. Active - by getting straight out of bed as soon as your wake up and leaving the house as soon as you've finished getting ready, you'll feel better for not wasting the day and not feel as groggy. I always find that I much more productive that way.

What university has taught me!

I have developed so much since I have been to university. It has taught me so much and I have overcome my expectations as an anxiety sufferer too and I'd like to share them with you:

1. House hunting! (which makes me feel old)
2. Paying rent and bills - scary (not really!)
3. Making complaints (and standing up for yourself such as the time our flat was accused of locking ourselves inside our dorm?!)
4. Meeting tonnes of new people and not being anxious about it.
5. Nights out, which I didn't have to go along with if I didn't want to.
4. Realizing how expensive food shopping actually is.
5. Practically living on delayed trains.
6. Sleeping being changed to the day and it being non-existent at night.
7. Cooking (although I could burn cereal, apparently)
8. Coping with work, which is expected.
9. How to compromise.
10. How to budget! 

Are you going to university?
Amy Xx

Do you know what's happened?

It's been a long time since I've reflected and had a proper catch up with you all, so I thought I'd include you all in this roller coaster of a few months.

  • I passed my theory test and only have a week to go until my practical driving test (I'll let you know how it goes!) I had to retake my theory because it ran out after two years. Fortunately with enough preparation, I passed it first time again. I feel I have gotten to the stage with my anxiety where I can tackle my driving. This is something which would have given me major panic attacks before, but this is no longer the case. Hallelujah! 
  • I passed the first year of my Law degree with a 2:1 across all of my modules. I am about to embark into my second year in a new house and living with some amazing people I met during my freshers. Here's hoping I can keep my grades up! This year I chose my optional modules to be medical and family law. 
  • I currently work in my local charity shop whilst I am home from university as a volunteer. This was a big step for me to take as having a job is at the top of my anxiety hierarchy as the thing that triggers my anxiety the most. However, on the first day of the job I had next to no anxiety. My step for next Summer is to get a paid job!
  • I did a week's work experience in a Law firm called Bond Dickinson, which proved to be very beneficial and took me out of my comfort zone even further.
  • For those of you who followed my sponsored cycle to Germany, know that I had to undertake one of the biggest challenges of my anxiety journey which was to find myself across Germany and get on a plane back to England, completely alone. I have no idea how I managed it, but I did. Very proud!
  • I am coming up to a one year anniversary, which again is something I'd never think would be possible with all of my anxiety issues, but yet here I am! I have been very lucky to meet a person who has helped me through every step of my recovery and has been understanding and caring too. (And Mum, I haven't forgotten about you either of course!)

Apart from my depression being an issue for the first month of the holidays, I am slowly getting back on track and tackling my anxiety as each day goes by. I have still had days where I have been very anxious and days when depression has been a cloud over my head, but I am getting there. It's hard to think that I was once a girl, aged seventeen who couldn't leave her house and walk to the shops. Now, I am a girl at age nineteen who is living alone, travelling alone, learning to drive and working. I never thought I'd see the day and I am extremely proud. I have come to far and I never thought it would be possible, so thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way - you will never be forgotten and your help and support has been the best gift I could ever asked for. If anything can give you hope, it's your strength from within and the knowledge that others have made it through. I hope I get there soon enough!

You can do it. I have no doubt,
Amy Xx

The meet up

I can't believe I haven't written a post about this yet. As many of you will know, I held a blogger meet up in London in which there were only three of us in total! There were many more expected, but unfortunately a lot were working or were too anxious to make it on the day.

Nevertheless, I will definitely be holding another meet up in the not so distant future and hopefully on a weekend when less people will be working. The meet up itself was very beneficial with the sharing of ideas and the understanding that you are talking to other people who have been through similar. It is an amazing feeling knowing that you are not alone. The sharing of ideas about how to combat mental illness was also extremely helpful. I walked away from the experience feeling extremely uplifted, not only for holding the meet up, but for talking to others who have been through similar and we all came out stronger because of it. 

Let me know if you'd be interested in another meetup and I will see what I can do. Until then, stay strong and keep going. There are many people in a similar boat to you or have been and have come out alive - something which I found out when I spoke to them a few weeks ago.

Amy xx

The art of postive thinking

I've been involved recently in an experiment, an experiment that I've created myself with the basis of positivity. 

How many times have you heard people saying; "just cheer up" or think positively and it will all be fine? I know full well that this isn't possible for everyone and at every stage of life, especially in the case of depression. Trust me, it angers me more than anything when people tell me just to "be happy" when I am depressed. However, positivity definitely makes a big impact on your life if you can enforce it. 

When it came to the revision of my A-level exams, I had felt very defeatist and like I was fighting a losing battle. However, I know that if I gave up, I would never have a chance at getting success. Second of all and perhaps the biggest change to my mindset, was that instead of staying down and in pity when an essay didn't go well, or a grade went down, I would have my moment and then begin again. Don't get me wrong, it is extremely hard to find the strength in yourself to get back up, even when you feel nothing is going your way. However, it's possible and you can do it. For a while now I have been trying out this positive mindset and it has helped tremendously. It takes a lot of work and training, but it should have a beneficial impact. 

Another way in which I have tried to train my brain is through writing speeches which I can read to myself every morning. It's proven that by feeding yourself with positive thoughts your doubts will fail to exist. 

There is a big difference between battling depression and thinking positively and it's important to make this distinction. Because, telling someone who is battling depression to think positively, will just make things worse.

Amy. Xx

Liebster award #2

I got nominated again for the Liebster award!

1. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
I think it's a great form of expression, which otherwise you freely wouldn't be able to do. I have also met so many people who have been through or who are going through similar situations to me, which hasn't only helped me, but those around me.
2. What is your must have beauty product?
I'm not a massive fan of beauty products, but I suppose it would have to be my Nivea primer. It works super well and you've got to have a solid base to build upon, right?!
3. What is the most worn item in your wardrobe?
Just recently, I've thrown away quite a few of my old tops because of the move to university and the memories that they hold. But, I reckon it must be my red tartan winter jacket. It must be at least five years old. The pockets have holes in, but I just love it too much to ever get rid of it!
4. Favourite movie?
It has to be Bend it like Beckham. It reminds me of my childhood and it's definitely a happy go lucky film. I could watch it forever. I wish they made a second one, or at least one with the same cast.
5. Would you start a YouTube channel?
I would like to, but I'm not sure I have the confidence. I write this blog anonymously, but I'd like my YouTube channel to be related to my blog somehow. It would requite me being in the video. Perhaps when I finally feel comfortable showing myself, then I will think about setting up a YouTube channel as it seems an opportunity full of experiences
6. Your favourite restaurant / place to eat out?
This is difficult. I'm not sure whether it's a chain restaurant, but it's called Pierre's. It's a french restaurant which does the most amazing food.
7. What is your favourite place/country that you have traveled to?
I would like to say that I remember America quite well, but unfortunately I don't. My favourite place other than that is probably London or in terms of a country, Italy.
8. Your favourite quote?
There's way too many that I like!
9. What would you like to be doing in 5 years time?
Finish my training as a lawyer or be in the police force. I think It's more towards the police force than anything else, which is something I've wanted to do since I was seven years old. But above all, happy I suppose.
10. Your favourite book?
The Noughts and Crosses series. The first book in the series is the only one that has ever made me cry. 
11. Do you have any pets?
No. But I would love to.

Amy Xx

Was I happy with the help?

As many of you will know, the first step on the road to recovery is to talk. This can include going to your doctor, as they should have the best insight to help you on your way. However, this isn't always the case which is sad to hear.

The first step I took was to go to my local GP, which unfortunately wasn't too helpful. Even after the milestone of 2 million people improving their attitudes towards mental health, not all health care professionals are versed in something which affects one in four of the population. If I am correct, there is no legal requirement for GPs to educated on mental health specifically. My GP gave information to counselling services outside of the NHS, which no longer existed. We weren't even aware that there was a counselling service on the NHS, even though the leaflet holding all of the information was right outside the doctor's door.

At that stage, we searched through the internet to find counselling services on the NHS, but sadly the waiting list was very long; something which I could not wait for. Therefore, we searched for private counselling services in my area, to which we ended up paying a high price every week. It was somewhat beneficial, but not enough to help me with my severity of my anxiety. For many, the option of private counselling may not even be possible, which raises concerns for those who really need help. This needs to change.

Finally, after many months of just getting by, I managed to get counselling on the NHS to which I had two different types. Even though the waiting list is super long, the quality of counselling and CBT is outstanding and I cannot thank the people who have helped me, enough. I had two different forms in which I moved through the system, until I was well enough to be discharged. Once I finally got access to the services, my life slowly began to turn around. Alongside this, finally meeting an understanding doctor after years of struggle, meant that I got prescriptive medication which has changed my life. 

Even though we are moving in the right direction towards better mental health, many healthcare professionals are still not trained in such a common illness. This is needed to save lives and I hope as time goes on, this will be possible. Without the important help that people need, it can become fatal. We need more money and more awareness to what affects so many people. Once you do get the help, it can change your life so keep going!

Best wishes,
Amy Xx

How many times can I come out alive?

May be triggering.

I often ask myself, how many times can I be pushed and pulled between the poles of life and death. I find that for the majority of life, this has the been the case and just as you feel you are getting somewhere, you get pulled back again. This is something I am used to, but as many of you will know, just because you are used to certain trauma in your life, doesn't mean that you will never get tired of it. 

I find that I am in a much better place now than I was a few years ago and for that I am proud. I can also say that I am beginning to find happiness again - something which I never thought I'd experience for a long time. And even though this is the case, I can't help but be haunted by the continuous traumas that I experience in my life and I find myself questioning how many times can my body be put through this and come out alive? 

When we face trauma, it is extremely difficult especially those that are continuous like a break up of a family, or the illness of a family member. As a you and I both know, that as a sufferer of mental illness, these events don't impact lightly, nor would it on a person who doesn't suffer from such either! But, when we get pulled back into the pain and darkness that we have felt so many times with our mental illness, it has a detrimental effect because you and I both know that we never ever want to go back to the depth of hell that we have experienced. Not only that, but when we begin to find happiness again, it's difficult to comprehend that it might be being taken away all too soon. 

When such repeated traumas come around, I feel exhausted. Knowing that I've been experiencing such for over a decade, and there is no escape. The fact, that I wonder how much more I can cope with and how much longer I can stay alive.

As difficult as it is, I remind myself that this is that way it is, as unfair as it may be - the world doesn't owe me anything. It's just that some people get a better deal of cards than others. I remind myself that these are all bumps in the road on the way to recovery. And as tired and angry as I get, I remind myself that I cannot change this and I know there must be good to come. I just have to go through this pain to get to the other side. It cannot be helped. No year is perfect. 

You can keep going. You are stronger than you think.

Amy Xx

Journey of driving

I have begun my driving journey once again. I passed my theory few days ago and I've already had a few driving refresher lessons! Those of you who have been following my blog will know that I had to stop my driving lessons due to my anxiety. In fact, one of my worst mental health episodes occurred just before a driving lesson and that was the last I ever saw of my driving instructors car.

Although, I find driving fun and have no problem driving in my Dad's car, the lessons seem to affect me differently. Nevertheless, this Summer I plan to pass my driving test as I only need a few refresher lessons and have already booked my driving test!

I used to be jealous at all of the people that have passed their test at age 17. However that doesn't affect me anymore. As time has moved on, I've begun to understand my journey and am beginning to find peace. I finally feel ready to take on one of my biggest anxiety triggers. So, by the time I get back to university in September, I should have a licence to drive - fingers crossed!

I hope to keep you all updated on a regular basis with my driving journey.

Speak soon and here's hoping it all goes well!

Amy Xx

It's impossible

I often find myself thinking things are impossible, but that's not always the case.

Too often than not I find myself looking back on past events and wondering how it was even possible for such things to occur - almost as if some these events were a blessing in disguise; such as one of my idols turning up at my house randomly one day because a family member wrote a letter explaining what a big fan my Mum was or meeting a person at university who I am so well matched with and whom has been through similar to me and is understanding or that I have survived serious episodes of depression.

There is no way that any ordinary person would argue these things to be possible, extremely unlikely at the very most. It gives me a new perspective; one which life is magical, where things are possible, and things do happen when you least expect it. There are just some moments in life, where things cannot be comprehended and where it blows your mind even thinking about it. Things which make me think that perhaps some things could come true, which otherwise I would never believe in.

Before I start becoming or philosophical, I better stop! I just think it's important to note that sometimes a weird twist of fate is all it takes to turn your life around. One second too early, too late or a random event and it changes the view that things are just black as they are white. 

Keep it in mind.
Amy Xx

Germany in Mind again?!

For the second year in a row I have cycled for Mind charity. Today, I will explain why this journey has been a little different. However before discussing that, the places I had traveled to this year seemed quite nice. Munich was like a bigger London and the various places after that were very traditional. At various points the views were spectacular and you could see the Alps. It was my 3rd time in Germany and I was fortunate enough to do some translation and speaking! Unfortunately the weather wasn't that great, but that was okay.

Starting from the beginning, we traveled by plane to Munich to begin the four day round trip of a total of 120 miles. However this didn't quite go as planned. Due to unforeseen circumstances of my anxiety, I only managed to complete two days and a total of 60 miles on my bike. On the 3rd day of the trip, I had a massive panic attack and my mental health started to go into the turmoil of a downward spiral due to various reasons, which weren't entirely expected. But it doesn't stop there...I knew that on that day, I could either continue to the end of the holiday, which was a further 4 days and possibly put myself in danger or get home. The only issue I had was that I would have to travel by myself. Not only does travelling make me anxious, but I now would have to travel 2 hours by train through Germany and then 2 hours by plane, all alone. This is something which I had never done before. However, I had to get out of there and thus I did. I managed to get back to England completely independently, speaking German language on the way to help me find my way. I'd say that although I only did half of the cycle which is an accomplishment in itself, in a weird twist of fate I also managed to accomplish something massive whilst facing some sort of blip.

I appreciate all of the support I have had during the build up to my sponsored cycle and I appreciate all money that has been given during my cycle. It's a shame that I couldn't finish it, but you can still sponsor me for the cycling I did do, here. Be proud of how far you've come!

I've included some photos down below:

My Journal

I write everything in my journals from poems, wordly thoughts, struggles and special moments. It's always on hand so I can write something down if I need to and once I have, I feel a whole lot better. People always say that if you're worrying about something, you should write it down and although it doesn't solve the problem completely, it sure does help (along with a cup of tea!) 

Suffering with anxiety often means that I feel a loss of control and by writing what I'm thinking down, I can come to a conclusion and feel relaxed. In a similar way, if my depression is becoming too much, writing what I'm feeling reduces the pressure that I feel. 

It's not just journals that I would recommend keeping, but also a book of achievements, as I like to call it. I bought a cheap exercise book off eBay and have filled it with my achievements/best moments of 2015 and at the end of the year, I can review it and see how far I have come in my recovery. I also did this in 2014.

Both of these have helped me immensely and it's amazing to see the differences I have made. Why don't you give it a go?

Amy Xx

The best year of my life?

The first year of university is already over and I can't believe it! It only seems like yesterday that I was packing my bags for university and yet I am now packing everything to go back to my hometown for three months. I have to say that university was the best choice I have made and I have had the time of my life. I've met some incredible people and made friends for life, had so many opportunities, so many laughs, funny experiences, memorable nights out, memorable days, learnt how to live independently and studied something I absolutely love. It definitely is an experience unlike any other.

I feel so blessed to be where I am right now considering I didn't even think going to University was possible only a few months before finishing my A-levels, but I continued to battle my mental health issues and achieve my goal. It definitely wasn't easy to get into university; far from it. But the experiences of mental illness has made this experience just that bit more special. It has made me step outside of my comfort zone further than ever before, leaving only a few things to accomplish on my anxiety hierarchy; a job and driving, both which I have already have plans to accomplish this Summer. There isn't really too much of a hiding place at university either; you have to get taxi's, buses, ask for things, make complaints, pay bills and so forth. I'm not saying that it is easy because it's not, as anxiety and depression have still been part of my life at university and I'd be lying if I said at some points I haven't struggled, but it's much less than ever before and luckily through some strange twist of fate, I found someone whom I am very close to, that has experienced similar and we have both helped each other through this first year. The majority of people I have met have also been very supportive. Nevertheless, I am proud of how far I have come and I am hoping to continue into my second year.

It's sad to say goodbye to my first year, but it has been the best year of my life and I am so grateful. I never thought I would see the day and it's hard to comprehend, when you're used to living in a place of darkness and are now experiencing quite the contrast. Roll on year two - I'll leave you with some anonymous pictures! 

I begin my Germany cycle for Mind charity next week and you can still sponsor me, here or text RFAB60 £5 to 70070. Any amount is greatly appreciated.

Amy Xx



A quick note to apologize for the lack of blog posts over these past few weeks - I do have an explanation! I am currently taking my exams and the normal routine should continue as usual, in July.

In the meantime, a few links that might be useful to you:

 - To never miss a blog post of mine again, follow me on bloglovin, here.

- I am holding a meet up for my blog and mental health awareness advocates on the 2nd of July 2015. You can find a summary of the details,
here. (You must contact me for the password to buy a ticket - they're free! And to find out more details)

- I am doing a 5 day cycle through Germany to raise money for Mind charity. Please sponsor me through Just Giving. Any amount is greatly appreciated! To sponsor me, click here.

- If you wish to contact me, I am only an email away: (or you can find me on twitter)

Until next time,
Amy xx

This isn't your ending

Things from the past can have detrimental effects upon us and that is to be expected. But, this doesn't have to be your ending. 

What you experience during adolescence and beyond can change you for life which I find incredibly sad. For those lucky enough, it affects us very little. But for the majority such traumatic events unfortunately make it very difficult to change the way we act and think in our subconscious. But, this doesn't have to be your ending.

I could say it is all up to you to change, and yes the majority is up to you. But, to be who you once were, or to become something better is easier said than done. However don't be angry or disappointed if you find yourself struggling to see things how they once were. 

As hard as it may be, you can get there. You can heal, and you can begin to work towards a life you love, regardless of those traumatic experiences you have had. They may haunt you for life or you may be able to work through them. Whatever the outcome what you were once told, or once experienced, doesn't have to the way it ends.

You have the willpower to improve to the best of your ability, and yes this may not be 100%, but it is still your best and you can try and help choose your ending.

Amy Xx

Help my Mind!

Another surprise blog post, but another really important announcement!

I will by cycling 20 -35 miles every day, for five days in Germany for Mind Charity. This will be for the second year running, and last year I managed to raise almost £200 to help people like you and I going through similar mental illness experiences. I will be doing the cycle at the end of June, starting in Munich.

Mental illness affects 1/4 people in any given year, including those closest to you. Mind charity are here to support and raise awareness around mental health. 

I would be so grateful if you could sponsor me - any amount is appreciated. If you wish to sponsor me, you can do so by visiting my Just Giving page:

My Just giving page (via clicking 'sponsor me' below)
                          Sponsor me!

If you cannot sponsor me, then I'd be so grateful if you could share this blog post and my Just Giving page in whichever way, so we can raise as much money for Mind Charity as possible. 

You can read all about last years Germany cycle, here.

Amy Xx

Relief From Anxiety meet up!

Apologies for the lack of blog posts recently and for the disorganisation, but I promise they will be back to normal soon - published every Sunday! However, as I have an important announcement I am publishing one today.

In July, I will be holding a Relief From Anxiety meetup in London - a chance to meet me and other readers to share mental health stories and give advice.

If you would like to attend the event and find out more details, then please contact me via twitter or email so I can send you the link and the password to the event page.

I hope to see you there!

Amy Xx

Barclays Vs. Anxiety

Last Thursday I attended a legal afternoon tea in Canary Wharf, London. 

A few months back, I attended a legal networking dinner as part of my University. One of the attendees was from Aspiring Solicitors, whom ultimately provided this opportunity to go to Canary Wharf and I luckily got chosen! One of my goals to rid myself of my anxiety is to keep pushing myself outside of comfort zone, and as a result I went to Barclays in Canary Wharf. 

As many of you know, I love London - It's my favourite place, and so to get a chance to go and take part in something to do with hopefully my future Law career, was amazing. I really enjoyed the experience and can't quite believe that I was there, when I think about the mental health journey I have been on. 

We were all treated with such respect, everyone was so professional, the buildings were massive and the view from the 30th floor was amazing. I had never been to a building like that before, with scanners, huge lifts, and so much glass. It's a world away from anything I have experienced before.

I am so glad I went, as it's one more step in my recovery journey. Overall my anxiety wasn't too bad - I was more excited than nervous. 

I have included some pictures below.

Amy Xx

Want to know me?

Hey all,

Apologies for the lack of blog post last week - I was moving back home from University for Easter. For today's blog post, I thought it would be a good idea to let you know of some upcoming opportunities for both you and I here at Relief From Anxiety.

Barclays legal tea
As some of you may know, I am studying Law at university and I am in my first year. As part of this there was an opportunity given by a firm called Aspiring Solicitors, to attend a legal networking tea in London next week, and with me trying to get out of my comfort zone and improve myself, I applied. I am very blessed to say that I got chosen, and will be travelling 4 hours to London next week, to Canary Wharf to meet a range of Lawyers and solicitors. To think that only two years ago, I couldn't leave the house and now I am going to London to further my career!

Relief From Anxiety Meet and Greet
In celebration of 50,000 views of my blog, I am setting up a Relief From Anxiety Meet up, where you can come and meet me, the writer and owner of this blog and hopefully share your support and mental health stories with other readers. This will be taking place in London in July, so please make every effort to attend. If you will be coming, please let me know. You can sign up to the event very soon. 

Mind Charity cycle through Germany
As many of you will know, I did a cycle through Germany last year in aid of Mind Charity, and this year I will be doing the same. Starting from Munich and cycling for four days in June. I would be ever so grateful if you could sponsor me. Last year we raised almost £180 - I really hope we can beat it this time! You can sponsor me, here.

Relate charity
I was recently contacted and called by Relate, the charity to write a piece for them for their new campaign. I am glad to say that this has been published on their website. You can read it, here.

My journey to a job and driving
Some of you may be aware, that the final two things on my recovery list and that I am petrified of, is a job and driving - both which I plan to accomplish this Summer. I am currently searching for a driving instructor and have applied for work experience. I will keep you updated!

I have my Summer exams coming up soon, so apologies if I am slightly absent from my blog. But as ever, I am happy to answer your emails at:

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx


We are always told that no one is perfect, and this is true. But, it's hard to believe when you end up comparing yourself with someone else who seems to have everything going for them. But, it's important to remind yourself that you are "comparing your behind the scenes with everyone else's show reel." Even though I know perfection doesn't exist, I still strive for it. This can be both good and bad and in theory I should achieve better outcomes, but it's always more detrimental to my mental health. 

I found that the day I moved to university, my happiness had reached a new level. And as time moves on, I begin to experience happiness; something which I haven't experienced in many, many years and it's the most wonderful feeling. Currently, I still feel blessed and I can honestly say I am happy. Even though my happiness is tainted sometimes and my mental health can be a struggle; something, which I expected and what I am struggling with currently.

I know that just because we change or try something new, doesn't mean that our mental health and other issues aren't going to follow us. But, it's hard to remind ourselves of that. I've found that experiencing happiness that I have missed for so long, hurts when it gets tainted and I end up losing my balance with my mental health. Questions whir around my head about others and I get scared, because I've been in the darkest depths and there is no way in hell, that I ever want to go back. But, you and I both must remind ourselves of this;

Everybody in life has their own journey and we are all different. What we see on the outside, is never what's going on the inside. Recovery is about progress, and when we have times when we wobble and our mental illness comes back to haunt us; we worry. We are scared that we will never escape. But, it's important to hold on and remember how far you've come. Only a couple of years ago, I couldn't leave the house and now I am living independently. We all have our achievements. And yes, I have questions as to why has this happened to me?, why do I have to do a double take on every action?, why is it me? It angers me so much, but as much as that can trouble me, this is it. This is me. And I find that I now have a greater depth of the world as a result. I find that, just because we wobble doesn't mean we are going to go back. Each relapse, makes you stronger. And even though you question, how many times can I come out of this alive? And as tired as you are, as much as you feel things aren't perfect, and as much as you feel things are slipping; no one is happy all of the time. But, perhaps you hold onto happiness more tightly than others, because you know that pain can be around the corner. But, as unfair as it is, you are strong and capable to get through it and taking time out is okay, because sometimes, it can all get too much. You've done it before and you can do it again.

Remember, no one is perfect.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Arts and Anxiety

Guest post!

I have worked in the arts for years. I remember the first time I got on stage and stood in front of an audience. I was 5, and I was in a pink leotard showing off my “good toes, and bad toes” (this is a ballet term for children, where you point and flex your feet).  The arts have been integral to my life, and growth as a person. For a very long time, I enjoyed the aesthetic pleasure that theatre, dance, film and visual art can provide until I started noticing a change in me. When I turned 21, I was thrusted into the BIG WIDE WORLD of “the working life”, which if I’m honest about I was not prepared for. I began to notice that the world wasn’t as easily as I had dreamed of, and no matter how much you plan for life; ultimately life has its own plan. And with that, I felt a change in me. The things that pleased me aesthetically were no longer stimulating me intellectually. So I joined a writers group, and started creating my own shows that dealt with real issues such as identity, race and mental health issues. Putting my thoughts, experiences and feelings on a page helped me to let out all of my pent up frustrations, fears, worries and anxiety. I began to realise the power that the arts has, to help bring social change, raise awareness, highlight real issues and ultimately empower my voice/experience. During 2013, I did a postgraduate in applied theatre, which allowed me to explore, how to use the arts to support and raise awareness on mental health issues and young people. I was amazed to find out that , throughout history the arts has been used as a tool to support the wellbeing of people who have suffered from Depression and Anxiety. But sadly, in more recent years this has now been pushed to the side (due to arts cuts, and new forms of treatment). With this revelation, I became inspired to create my new play “On the edge of me”, which is a Semi autobiographical piece which looks at Anxiety and  Panic attacks.  I hope that through performing and touring my show, I will be able to use theatre as platform to support and raise awareness of these issues. And hopefully encourage others to use the arts as a tool to improve their wellbeing, and empower their voices/stories. I remember reading this amazing quote for Mental health, Psychiatry and The Arts-

‘it is in the participation itself that transformation takes place; whether for healing or learning or both’

On the edge of me has been programmed at the Rich mix, Hifa Festival Zimbabwe and is currently accepting bookings. Please feel free to contact me for more information. 

A journey of depression

Hello, my name is Callum. I'm 19 years old and I experienced my first mental health issue about 18 months ago. I remember it like a light switch in my head. In my younger years, I was confident and regularly participated in social events with friends, got up on stage and was vocal in school classes. Looking back on this part of my life now, it scares me to see how much I've changed. Before I was carefree and now I struggle to talk to new people.
It began in October 2013. I was 17 and was attending a big party, which the whole year of my sixth form was invited to and this might sound cliché but my first instance of depression was triggered by unrequited love; my interest in her was essentially laughed off. I returned home from this party, ended up vomiting and then after a terrible night's sleep I woke up, wishing that I hadn't. I suppose at first I was hoping this was just a phase but these feelings ensued for months. Sixth form was becoming a struggle every day and I'd escape into my own world, headphones plugged in, playing my music so loudly that I couldn't hear what people had to say. I think it was fairly noticeable that I wasn't doing well, but one thing I can say is that these few months really showed me who my friends are.

The Christmas holidays came around and I was still struggling. I often questioned my existence and it was the first time that I self-harmed, punching a wall until I bled. I already wanted to escape Sixth Form, however following a slight public humiliation after continuing to pursue this girl I liked, my depression got worse. Over the holidays alone I lost around tow stone from not eating and had barely said a word to anyone. During this period I was regularly asked by my parents if anything was up, to which I replied with "no everything's fine". My parents had a lot on their plate and I felt that they didn't need my problems. That might sound absurd, but I felt as if I didn't matter to anyone, family included.

In A-levels there was a lot of pressure on exams; an area in which "Old Callum" used to excel. That was certainly not the case come April 2014. With the continued depression and bottling up of emotions teamed with the stress of exams, I broke down. I had my first anxiety attack and it felt horrendous. I was about 10 minutes from school when I turned to my mum and told her I couldn't go in. She seemed a little confused, but I really couldn't go further. After taking me home I sat on the floor of my room and cried listening to music for a few hours. After a few days away from school with anxiety, my Dad dragged me in and I was referred to counselling. It was really useful for this particular time in my life; someone to talk to was what I needed and after a couple of months things were starting to look up. Although I still felt down, there was no more self harm and I was coping with my stress and anxiety levels better than before.

After exams and a summer of ups and downs of equal measure, I embarked on university life. It was a mix of emotions for me. I couldn't wait to leave home, a place I associated with depression but I was scared to meet new people and socialising, especially given that I'm not much of a drinker! I was wrong. Although I was practically silent for the meet and greet event in my accommodation block, I came away with 3 fantastic friends, who I will get the pleasure of living with next year.

Finally, things were getting better. I was enjoying my course, I met amazing people and I was in an exciting new city far away from home. The only problem I faced was that I was still feeling depressed. I couldn't understand why and this drove me to become really angry at myself. It had been a year since I started feeling this way and despite everything being right, I still felt wrong. Although I was grateful that I finally had a friend to talk to who had similar experiences and without whom I'm not sure I could have made it through university.
After another bad winter break and the largest mental breakdown I've suffered to date, I realised something needed to be sorted out. A talk with my friends led me to the GP, after which I got prescribed medication. Afterwards, I called my family and explained what had happened. I wish I had done it sooner as even my dad, who I did not always get on with, was compassionate and understanding. Needless to say my family relationship has improved since.

I'm just shy of a month into my course of medication and despite a few early hiccups things are starting to improve with a few days of clarity, something I haven't felt since the beginning of it all.

I hope my journey has helped you know that you're not alone and I think if I can take anything away from this, it would be to trust those close to you with your mental health issues. Chances are, they will be there for you and a problem shared is a problem halved. I know that it can be tough, but stick at it, it will get better.