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

Raw letter

My poem, 'Raw Letter' based upon the stigma of mental health. Please do not publish without permission. Copyrights to Relief From Anxiety. 

Dear a person who doesn't care to understand mental illness,

Do you know what it feels like to lose everything you've ever loved,
To lose yourself,
To be too scared to face the world,
Crying in a heap on the floor?

It would seem illogical that someone would stay in hell,
If they knew they could leave,
So why I am still here,
If I knew I could be alive?

But you wouldn't know what it's like for the world to black,
When everyone else is basking in the sun,
You wouldn't know what it's like,
To think you're the only one.

So don't tell me to be happy,
Because not everything is possible to change,
I've tried climbing up these walls,
but falling down time and again.

Would you ignore me if my blood pressure was too high?
Or if I had cancer running through my bones?
You'd surely tell me to get the right dose of medication,
So I could get back on my toes.

So tell me why I am so bad,
If my brain falls ill,
And I am not allowed medication,
Even if it's me it's going to kill?

So think again,
If i have made this up,
Because you wouldn't doubt,
If I was coughing my lungs up.

If you really believe that I would waste my young years,
Missing out on opportunities
And crying blood and tears,
If I could just embrace life in all its glory,
Try telling me again this is just another fictional story.

Do you think it's fair?
That we only believe in what we can see?
Because once in a life the world was flat
Until it was found what it could really be

Science has proven that chemicals are at play,
It just so happens that blood isn't dripping out of my brain,
Because that is what it feels like,
Every single day,
But you wouldn't know because you can't see pain.

We can still work
And we can still play
We're just people with high blood pressure
Living day to day.

We are more vulnerable,
And the media is just a game,
It's time to look out of the box
And see the reality the right way.

We are not killers,
And no one is a saint,
So stand against your merky view
Of mental health today.

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. 

#2 Uni-life: Applying

The second post in the university series!

When my teachers first started to explain ucas to me and all of the things I had to do, admittedly I thought my head was going to explode. However, as you move through the process it's not as bad as it first looks. 

Writing you personal statement
These are the documents that teachers repeat the importance of, time and again. Don't get me wrong, some personal statements will change the outcome of your university choice, but then again, some universities don't read it. I found this the most stressful part, but if you break it down into chunks then it isn't so bad. It may take some time, but please try not to stress too much over it; remember to take a step back and look from the outside in. It's sometimes helpful to focus on your own goals rather than reading all of these websites do's and don'ts as it may just panic you. Don't get me wrong, they are somewhat helpful, but there is only so much that can be taken in. 

You need an introduction; something which is interesting, a main body and a conclusion which generally explains how your academics and experience will suit the university and your course. With the main body, try to go through each of your A-levels (or equivalent), main work experience and extra curricular, by explaining how it suits the course and what you've gained from it. If it applies, you could also include a recent news article which shows your keeping up to date with what is going on in that academic area.

Choosing your universities.
This depends on what you're looking for. Try and make a list and go to some open days. I only went to three open days, and that was enough for me to decide. Some went to many more, but that's completely your choice. 

Now to play the waiting game.