Christmas GIVEAWAY! (CLOSED)

It's time for my second ever (small) giveaway! This Christmas season, I will be giving away various different products which will be posted to the winner.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is:

1. Follow me on bloglovin: www.bloglovin.com/reliefromanxiety
2. Follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/reliefofanxiety
3. Retweet this tweet: https://twitter.com/reliefofanxiety/status/8148250965147074574.

Email me with your bloglovin username and twitter username to reliefromanxiety@gmail.com with your reason why you read my blog posts or how you found my blog.


Open to residents of the UK only. 


The winner will be drawn at random using a randomiser and will be notified via email and twitter if applicable. The closing date of the competition is February 1st 2017. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas & Good luck!

Thank you all for being so supportive of my journey. I hope we can continue on this journey together towards better mental health. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

(Note: terms and conditions can be changed at any time during this giveaway competition) 


My year in review 2016!

It's come to that time of year again where I look at the past year. I can't believe that I have been doing this for three years now! Where to start...

Although I expected this year to be one of little change, it turns out that there have been some things that have happened which have been unexpected, I suppose! One of my biggest achievements of this year was getting my first car and driving by myself. This is something that I was petrified of in the beginning, but as soon as I got used to it, it become second nature to me. This was even more so the case when I got my first paid job. If you have been reading for a long time, you'll know that getting a paid job was at the top of my anxiety hierarchy and after doing volunteering for two summers, I finally got the courage to go for a paid job. This was extremely hard for me. I spent many days crying both before and after getting the job, panic attacks whilst at work and swearing I would never go back because the anxiety it gave me was just too much. Nevertheless, this paid job allowed me to earn my own money and with that came a sense of achievement, it allowed me to drive my car alone a lot more and definitely increased my confidence. It also happened that this year, I handed in my resignation for this paid job too because with third year degree studies and working so many hours in a week, it just wasn't good for my mental health, so I took that challenging step too. Even though I only worked there for three to four months, I don't regret undertaking it.

In the ice bar of Amsterdam!
During this year, I also went on holiday with my friends to Amsterdam. Now, that was one of the best trips I have been on. I definitely recommend Amsterdam and I will hopefully be going back. I also went on my first holiday with my partner. This makes two holidays where I've had to rely on my own instinct to get home in one piece. I will hopefully be travelling a lot more.

As many of you know, I am now into my third and final year of my Law degree. I have managed to survive it this far, so I'm just hoping that I will graduate next year. Further to this, I also became the president of my university's mental health society in which we set up events for people to come along to and raise awareness. I also try to improve the welfare side of things at university by working with students and staff as a member of the welfare committee. It's a very busy final year and can also be very anxiety provoking!

Renting my own flat with my partner is something that I have never done before until now. In theory, it will be my first flat where I will no longer be a student and out in the big wide world of work. This will be the first time we will be living together outside of shared accommodation, so a new challenge will be underway!

A final challenge I can think of is part of my weight loss journey. Since January of this year, I had been determined to lose the weight that had been put on, partially because of medication. To this date, I have lost just over three stone. It has been extremely hard and for me, it's been about counting calories and going to the gym. Nothing more and nothing less. I have had times of crying, I have given up, but most of all I have still made it. I have little bit more to go, but If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything. This is the same with your mental health. Sometimes, mental illness can require a lot of willpower to overcome your fears. Sometimes, you won't be able to, like I have felt many times before, but sometimes you will find that spark that allows you to take that bit of courage and run a mile through your fears. I promise, that with will power comes hardship, but it's worth it and every single one you is capable.

Overall, this year has been full of many achievements. But there have been also some times of severe depression, suicidal thoughts and self harm and feeling utterly lost and out of control, especially during the Summer months. These elements are still present in my life and are things I still tackle on a daily basis, however I feel I have improved year on year and it just goes to show, even if you have faced times of extreme lows, you can still go ahead and achieve things. We are not alone in this battle, and I know you have the strength to battle this illness. It's not easy, but it's definitely worth it.

I'd love to hear what your year has been like.  Let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas! 

Amy Xx

what is meant by mental health?

We all have a mind and we all know that it doesn't always work as it should do, just like any other area of our body. Although I have addressed the problems and advice coming from certain mental health problems, I haven't addressed what mental health is itself. 

Everyone has a mind, and looking after it is just as important as looking after your body because without one, you can't necessarily do as well without the other. It's becoming more common that perhaps people's mental health isn't as it should be - 1 in 4! This tends to be defined under the umbrella term of mental illness.
Just as if you were to have a physical illness, mental illness just means that your mental health isn't working perhaps as it should do, for example causing different behaviours and moods. Disorders can include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and so on and these all have a range of remedies to try and help bring your mental health back to where you'd want it to be. 

Just like physical illness, recovering from mental illness may take a while and may take a range of different remedies to find the best way for you to get better. 

Mental health is the same as physical health and it's just about trying to get better in the best way you can. It's common to experience mental illness and you shouldn't be ashamed of doing so. Getting a cast for a broken leg is just as important as getting medication to balance your serotonin. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Self harm advice

This post is following on from my previous one giving an introduction to self harm, which you can read, here. This time round, I'm going to share with you some advice of perhaps other coping techniques, or how to deal with self harm itself.


  • Talk - talking is always key. If you have someone to whom you can share how you're feeling with, I believe the chances of self-harming reduces because the intensity that you're feeling should lessen. You also know that you have that support around you.
  • Find your own techniques - Self harm for me tends to be something I do when I can't find any other way to release the tension and to not take part in it, can require a lot of will power. But to try and avoid it, I try to do things such as going outside, doing kick boxing, mindfulness, talking and so forth. I give myself the image of myself of how I would feel afterwards. I try to find other ways to deal with my pain.
  • Thinking - If you have the urge to self harm, try to give yourself some breathing time to consider whether you really want to go down that route or not. I have found that giving myself this time has often meant that I didn't harm myself in the end.
  • Care - If you do find yourself self-harming, don't feel ashamed. I understand that the normal feelings are guilt and anger, as I too have felt it myself. But, it doesn't mean that you have taken a few steps back, it just means you needed to do something to get rid of the pain you were feeling. Of course, embarking on less harmful ways of reliving pain is something to work on. Make sure that you look after any wounds, and give yourself some time to heal afterwards. 
You can find Mind's self harm advice, here.

I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any other advice, please leave a comment below.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx 

The real me

I've been blogging about my mental illness journey for over three years now. I have discussed not only some areas of my personal life, but tips and advice to help others through their journey.

I feel I am generally upbeat whilst sharing the truth of what living with mental illness is really like. However, I do feel that sometimes I don't share the extent of my mental health with you all as my blog is a place of support and comfort. However, I am human and I do get bad days just like you.

I have been battling my mental illness from about the age of 8, and it hasn't been easy. I'm sure like the rest of you reading this you have also felt this way - I have had suicidal thoughts, attempts, been depressed and had crippling anxiety and I know I'm not alone. I'm not going to say that all of my journey has produced positives either. It has been the hardest and most challenging thing to deal with in my life so far and many a time I have run out of energy and hope to carry on. I have had days of crying and self-harm, and staying in bed and not seeing the point in anything. I'll be honest in saying that, my mental illness can and has been like hell and I know I'm not the only one.

I never tend to mention this because I feel it doesn't always help others to hear the rawness of the situation. But I am a person who deals with mental illness on a daily basis, and to this day and at the age of 21, I still battle anxiety and depression. Perhaps not to the scale I used to, but of course circumstances and situations can trigger it off. I am still dealing with it every day, and I haven't completely recovered yet, but I am getting there.

I am human just like you and I am still here. I have been through it, and I am still alive and so can  you. I am just another person battling their mental illness to help others and I know that you have the strength to keep going.

I hope this hasn't been too much for you all as I know it's quite different!

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Some extra reading?

I thought I'd take this week as an opportunity for you to read my other work on mental illness besides my own blog. 

The link below will send you to a link that contains all of my guest posts and work including writing for Mind charity, Time to Change and Relate charity. You can read all of these, here. 

I hope you all enjoy.

See you all next week!

Best Wishes, 
Amy Xx

Coming back from the brink

How many times have you been depressed for so long that you don't remember what it's like to be happy? But when you do finally start to feel better I find so many questions and thoughts running through my head.

"Life really is beautiful!"

"I missed out on so much"

"I'm waisting my time"

"Was it all in my head?"

"Could I have recovered quicker?"

I want to reassure you that these thoughts and questions are completely normal. I often feel guilt for what I believe my depression does to me, but I know that what I am dealing with is an illness and it is completely real. And I am not alone! 1 in 3 people are dealing with mental illness in any one year, which is at the end of the day, a third of the population. You're not alone in feeling the way you do and thinking this way. At the end of the day, this is something that I have to cope with and I cannot just make it disappear and the sooner I realise this, the better I can find ways to deal with it and to recover quickly. The depression and anxiety I have faced, have taught many things, alongside the trauma it causes. What I was once told, is that anxiety and depression does not rob you. You can do it. I strongly believe that although some people don't experience mental illness to the extent that perhaps you and I do, it doesn't mean others aren't struggling in other ways. It gives you strength if anything, whether it's nasty or nice, to keep moving forward.

As always, coming back from the brink shows great strength. It may not be fair, or easy, but you can do it. 

Best Wishes, 
Amy Xx

Public Anxiety

Anxiety behind closed doors and in front of others are on two different ends of the scale. Behind closed doors you can hide what you're feeling from others without the worry of how other people are going to react. But in public it's very raw and everyone can see and there is nowhere to hide.

The other day I was out for a friend's birthday and overwhelming anxiety came over me all of a sudden. I have no idea why, but with 16 people being there, there wasn't really a way of being too discreet, so people wouldn't ask. My usual route is to step outside and away from the situation that triggered it, and that's what I did.

Although it did make me feel better to be away from the situation, some of my friends did see the extent of my anxiety, and I'll be honest, I hate it when people see me like that. Although I know I have nothing to be ashamed of, I can't help but wonder about what people are thinking, and whether they'll see me in a different light. I feel like I kick myself for the way I feel and I know I shouldn't. I think it's because I have always been seen as the strong one, and the one that can be relied on and yet, people have seen me in a different light. But, turning it on its head, dealing with anxiety and depression is a strength in itself and if there are people who see you like a weakness, it's not worth using your time to be with them, because you're better than that. Eventually I said to myself that tomorrow is another day, and it's time to move on rather than getting myself in a rut.

Anxiety and other mental illnesses are unpredictable, so they may occur both in public and private. But let me remind you to surround yourself with supportive people and to not be ashamed. It's normal have feelings of guilt and anger, but at the end of the day this is a part of you that you are working on and it isn't something that you can just brush under the carpet. It is something that may happen and that's okay. Don't feel guilty for you.

Best wishes,
Amy Xx

Early intervention

I cannot stress this enough. Early intervention is so important. As people say 'old habits die hard' and this true in terms of mental illness. As years go by, the more you will reinforce your actions, thought patterns and reactions. This in turn, makes it harder for you to break them. I know that this is true for myself. I had been using the same safety behaviours for many years and I had the same thought patterns, kind of being stuck at at young age whilst growing older. In this way, I had felt too young and anxious to drive, to have a job, to catch a bus and so on. But, with proper counselling and CBT I am finally getting to a point where I have almost retrained my thought patterns, so that I think and react in different ways. I know that this would have been easier many years earlier, but I didn't know I had a problem with my mental health for many years. For those that do, it's so important that you get help as early as possible. Don't get me wrong, the mental health services we have here in the UK are pretty poor, but that doesn't mean that you should be put off by a doctor who doesn't understand or a long waiting list - I have been there. The longer you rely on your old ways, the more ingrained it becomes and the harder it is to get out of it. That doesn't mean that you won't, it just might take you longer. 

I so wish that there better mental health services, so we could nip the problem in the bud before it even begins to grow. Imagine, if even children could be taught about mental health and have access to someone who they could talk to at such a young age. I feel the problems could be lessened, so that it wouldn't necessarily be as of a big problem as they got older. Even though the mental health services aren't amazing, talking, doing your own CBT, and even going down to your local GP are all steps in the right direction and I strongly encourage those struggling to take a stand and take a step towards their recovery. It's not easy, but it's definitely worth it. 

You can get there. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

What is it like to be normal?

The other day I was sat on my bed, going through a really depressive episode and I was just thinking to myself, why can't I be normal? Why can't I just float through life? Of course there is the age old question of what is normality? But what I mean is, why can't I just accept things the way they are. To not have anxiety and depression, to not think about death, to not over analyse everything, to laugh more, to not think so philosophically every single day, to just be young and free like I should be and to not be dissocated from my own person. 

I feel that a lot of my friends, perhaps don't think like I do and although comparison is a killer, I just can't help but notice how nice it would be just to go through life more lightly. But, maybe this is just me. From a very young age I have thought things that my peers didn't and I spoke to adults because I found it more interesting and as years went by I started to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety and it's true to say that people who tend to think this way, are more likely to experience these kind of symptoms. Although I feel being this way enriches my life to an extent and has created life for me that perhaps I would never have achieved otherwise, I can't help but get tired the fact that I just cannot switch my brain off, or just do something withough aching. But at the end of the day, I'm not sure I'll ever know what its like just to float through life without few cares, and perhaps I can use this to my advantage. Because, unless I find a way of changing the way I think, which may be possible, this is who i am and this is who we are. And it's something that I'm going to continue work with, because otherwise it will just be another pressure to add to myself.

Everyone is different and no one is really normal, so everyone sees things differently, and they all have demons of their own, just perhaps you can't see them. It's about learning to work with yourself, and to understand that you are your own person and there's nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, it might take more time to feel better and work on yourself and it might be a difficult uphill struggle and be tiring but, this is who you've got to deal with for the rest of yourself, and in a way, that makes it special, because no one else works the way you do. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx 

Driving alone!

After passing my driving test in December 2015, my next goal was to drive alone.

For those of you who have been with me throughout my journey, I started driving when I was 17, but unfortunately I had to stop my driving until I felt well enough. The other day however I got my first car! Little did I know how expensive it would turn out to be, but I would pay that just for the freedom any day. 

My first drive alone was very scary! I felt the adrenaline rush through my body and my heart come through my chest, even if it was just a drive up the road. This continued to go on for many weeks, until it appeared that my body just used to driving and calmed right down. I think that worry of the unknown and that I had to completely rely on myself was the anxiety provoking part. But as the weeks passed, I got more confident and I travelled further. Only last month and sometime throughout the summer, I took it upon myself to do a three hour motorway drive to somewhere I had never driven to before. But, I did feel calm and collected and I did have the ability to do it and it turned out to be not as bad as I envisaged. This is how everything seems to be with anxiety - it's always worse than it seems. You're stronger than you believe as well being more capable then you think you are and might just shock yourself with the challenges you undertake - I know I have.

For those of you still learning to drive, or struggling to drive - you will get there. It may be a rollercoaster, but it took many years to get to where I am today, but I still made it and so can you.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx


It's all about the circumstance


*Trigger warning*

This summer has been been very similar to the last, in the way that I really struggled. I will be totally honest and that I have been very depressed and suicidal this summer and I think it's all down to the circumstances alongside the base principle that I do have mental health problems. 

I do love to come home from university and see my friends and family as I truly miss them when I am away and they bring so much happiness, but at the same time coming home brings back some traumatic memories which seem to hit me as soon I walk in the door and I feel this is the reason I struggle so much. I wish I could be like my mother, who went through this all with me, and put it in a box somewhere and move on with it. But, I haven't quite got to that stage yet and the wound still feels very raw, after all of these years. 

Coming home for Christmas, I find is one the happiest times. I think it must be because of the length of time I spend at home - a month. This seems like the perfect amount of time for me and perhaps next year, if I move back home, having a full-time job will take my mind off things. I have found that by being at home for three months without a hefty job, and friends that aren't always available to see, leaves me with my own thoughts, especially when there are some people around you that trigger these traumatic memories every time you see them. I find it very hard to overcome these thoughts when I come home, especially this summer and the last as although I filled my time, it just wasn't enough for me and I just ended up in this spiral of depression, suicidal thoughts, attempts and self harm, the same as this summer. But, when I am at university, my mental health seems to improve and I very rarely feel as depressed or anxious as I do when I come home and I know that's because of my past. But, it does make me sad because it's not the fault of mother's and I do feel the guilt of leaving her in a house by herself when she ill, and that adds to my pressure. But, I know as well that she wants the best for me and I can't thank her enough for all that she has done. I feel a lot of mental health problems can be reactive, and this what mine are when I come home and it's just about weathering the storm. 

I have some fantastic times when I am home over the summer, but I also have some more than challenging times and that's what I struggle with the most. But, it comes to a point where you have look after yourself and your mental health and although others may be suffering, to just keep living can be a sensitive challenge and if that means that I have to do what's best for me, and remove myself from these circumstances of my old home life, then that's what I'm going to have to do. And if you feel a similar way, I suggest that to heal, you do a similar thing if that's possible. 

Even though times can be tough, I am still here and so are you. And that just shows that you can do it.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

My mind is playing tricks

The other day I thought I had somewhat of an epiphany - that perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me and I could snap out of this mental illness that I deal with. That it's all in my head and I just have to think in a different way. I thought to myself, perhaps I should think I'm not suicidal and I won't be anymore. But, yet again this is just another way your mind tries to play with you. Although I think that thinking in different ways can help and allow to reach different perspectives, I am still aware that mental illness is real problem, usually promoted by a chemical imbalance and this is very real. I wish it was as easy as just thinking you're okay and that being the solution, but I think it's a lot harder than it. It takes a huge amount of effort to overcome the doubts in your mind, no matter what people tell you. It's just not that easy and sometimes I feel the brain likes you to believe that it is and you really can just come out of it. But, if this was the case then I wouldn't be dealing with these problems right now. It's hard because I feel that everyday is a battle against your own mind even though it is the one thing you need to keep you in control for that 24 hours. You're constantly doubting yourself, or feeling that there's a black cloud hanging over you and that's a challenge to keep going in itself, alongside the thought that what you're going through might not be real. Don't get me wrong sometimes thinking differently, for me personally, can help. I do feel that I can get myself into a rut where I am thinking negatively alongside my depression rather than it necessarily being a side effect. And in that case if I notice it, I release the pressure a bit. But, a lot of the time mental illness is life-changing and debilitating and it's not just a matter of changing your mind set. It's sometimes just too beyond yourself to be able to even do that. I know with anxiety, I couldn't even walk sometimes and there's nothing that I tried, that worked with that. 

Mental illness is very real and even when our mind plays tricks, it does affect u and you've got to be strong to battle your own mind everyday, but I know it's possible and I know the strength needed to get through - we all have it. 

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

I was on the jury...

I have been questioning whether to share this with you all, but as I have been sharing the majority of my mental health journey, I thought it was only appropriate and I hope it helps others. 

Back in July I got contacted to take part in jury service at my local crown court. I have to admit it is something that I have been dreading for a long time and it just happened to present itself. It's a legal requirement to attend, unless you fit under the exceptions which mental health was one, but I believe it was only if you were under the mental health act, which I am not. Nevertheless, I took up what I saw as my challenge! I had been dreading it since the day I got the letter, but the day came and I went through all the security checks and informative talks and waited in a room with about 30 other people to hear whether we would be needed to be on the jury. No one really spoke to each other and we weren't allowed to leave the room at any point, so not only was it very boring but very anxiety provoking because I couldn't escape. Hours later, we got let go for the day because the cases that were meant to be in court, were cancelled. Nevertheless, we were asked back the next day and luckily this time, we didn't have to wait very long. 

I was called onto the jury.

We all walked into the court room and our names were picked at random and mine was one of them, and so I sat in the jury box. I have to admit it was one of the scariest things! However, I recognised someone in the room and so I had to speak the clerk and the judge, who then said it was appropriate that I stepped down. I was then let go until the week after. However, the morning after this was said, I got a phone call from an unknown number and so I didn't pick it up. But I did have a voicemail saying that I was needed as there was a case. But, I went into complete meltdown when I had this voicemail. I had a severe panic attack which lasted for the best of thirty minutes to the point where my hands went blue and tingly, I couldn't breathe, I felt faint and I knew I had to get out. I couldn't deal with going back in. My anxiety just wouldn't let me. My mother luckily phoned for me and explained the situation, about my history mental illness, that I'm on medication and so forth and they had to talk to the judge. After an intense wait I had phone call back saying that the judge had released from jury service because of mental health and they didn't want me to become anymore distressed.

Although I felt this was a grace, I was extremely disappointed in myself, not only because it relates to what I want to do in a few years, but because it was a challenge and I felt that  was capable but it turns I just couldn't cope with it. I don't know why really, I reacted in the way I did. All I know is that I pretty much lost control and some parts of memory are patchy. I know I may have the opportunity to take in part in the future, but I feel sad that I thought I had the strength to cope with it and I didn't. But in reality, I did undertake something that some people never get the chance to do, and something which was totally out of my comfort zone and that itself is an achievement. Just because I didn't get the full experience, doesn't mean that I've gone all the way back to the beginning because I know I wouldn't have done this years ago. 

I hope that for those of you reading, that you take the positives. That you can do things you didn't think you can and you bounce back.

Best wishes,
Amy Xx

I'm back!

Hello everyone!


I'm back from my break, with a new design, new blog posts and an update.

From this post forward, I will be publishing posts every Sunday rather than my previous twice a week. Don't forget that you can be kept up to date with my blog by following me on bloglovin, here.

This post marks the beginning of my third and possibly final year at university studying law. This year, I have to do well in my exams to graduate, manage my university's mental health society, be on my university's welfare committee and hopefully join a sports society and get a job. But, we will see how it all pans out and I'm going to try and put the least stress on myself as possible. 

This Summer has been very difficult for me, so by going back to university it will give myself the chance to heal and be ready for the upcoming year. But it has also had it's accomplishments such as driving on my own for many hours on the motorway, which I now feel comfortable with, working at the charity shop and taking part in jury service. Of course, this summer hasn't gone as I have planned, but I'm still here and there have been some good times as well as those which have been challenging. 

I hope you all continue to stick with me on my journey.

Best wishes, 
Amy Xx


I'm going away for a while

Hello guys,

I'd just thought I'd update you as to where I'm at. I want to give a lot of love and attention to this blog and help as many of you as possible, therefore I'm going to take some time away from writing blog posts to brainstorm and see what content I can come up with. This doesn't mean that I won't still be on twitter, or reading and replying to my emails. I will still be here to talk if you need to. I just think to get the best out of this blog I need to take some time away and come back with a fresh mind, content and perhaps a new blog design. Don't worry, it won't be long! It's just some thinking time.

I will still be available to talk and answer any PR enquiries:

Email: reliefromanxiety@gmail.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/reliefofanxiety

Don't forget to follow me on bloglovin too, so you will be kept up to date and be aware when I write my new blog posts. To follow me, click here. 

As always, thank you so much for being so supportive of my journey. Best wishes and keep fighting the good fight,
Amy Xx

Sensitivity

Although I'd say I was quite mature for my age when growing up, this didn't mean I wasn't sensitive to what was going on around me. I had to grow up fast and therefore I didn't see things like my peers did. Those things that my friends would be upset over, hardly affected me because I had experienced much bigger things than an argument with a friend. However, even though this may be the case today, I would say that I am sensitive in another way. Although I have the maturity and strength from battling my mental illness, I do find it a struggle if things in my life are out of kilter. For example, an argument with a parent or not hearing back about an event and so forth. It's true that I won't go into complete meltdown, but it still does bother me and for a lot of people I don't think it would as much. I believe that this is just my way of coping. I feel that many years ago, I used to cope a lot better with that kind of thing, but now I tend to struggle more with it and I'm not too sure why it is. Nevertheless, I still try to work on it on a daily basis. 

What are your stories?

Amy Xx

Something my counsellor has taught me...

Everything we experience makes us who we are. For some of us, certain parts of our lives affect us more than others and become a strong part of our habits and subconscious thoughts. As many of you know, a part of my childhood still lives with me in my daily life and I tend to rely on that mindset when I am uncomfortable or anxious. However, this kind of behaviour is not useful for me because I am not a young child any more. I don't want to be stuck with the low confidence level and worried reactions that I had when I was that age. For example, when I am driving alone I have the voice in my head that I am not old enough to do it and this is the voice I have doing a range of challenging things, purely because I had a trauma at a young age and it's almost like I am stuck in time. This voice, is not the voice of a 20 year old, but of my former self. It's strange how traumas can still make you act in certain ways. But this is normal for people who go through problems like this because you have lived like that for so long. In my case, it must be around 13 years of reinforcing those voices and habits!

My counsellor showed me a few diagrams, which showed me how we have a parental part of us, an adult part of us (our current state) and our child self and all three parts make up who we are today. These three parts are split up further into sections, and for some of us, one section will be stronger that another. In my case, my child state is strongest with criticism (probably because I felt I needed to be in control at that age)  and my parent state is strongest for nurturing over others (because I certainly give myself a really hard time!) The aim for me to increase the nurturing of myself and to give myself an easier time and weaken the subconscious voice of my younger self, because I'm not her any more. I'm an adult who is fully capable to take on what ever comes my way. 

I hope this make sense! 
Amy Xx

I'm president!


So for those of you who follow my twitter, you'll know that I have recently become president of my university's mental health society (student minds). I originally only wanted to run for vice president, but I was encouraged to run for president and after giving a speech and the votes all counted up, I was chosen to be president. I then had to sign some paperwork to make sure it was all confirmed. 

This is something I had been thinking about for a while, because at first I wanted to start my own mental health society until I realised there was one already in existence! Therefore, I joined up but there wasn't much going on. So, for my final year at university I thought I would take a step into the deep end and put myself forward for vice president as I really wanted to make a go of this society. I wanted to have more members join, battle stigma and raise awareness because there will be so many people in my university suffering, but never talking about it. Turns out that I was encouraged in our meeting to run for president and now I can happily say that I am the president of my university's mental health society. I'm really hoping to make a difference by bringing in speakers, holding events, making posters and so on - anything I can do, because I have a real passion to help other's and raise awareness. 

This isn't the only thing I have to do, though. As president I have to make sure the society is running well, make sure the prices are correct, organise people and events and so forth. I basically will be overseeing the whole running of the society and although it seems like a big task, I'm happy to get out of my comfort zone and see what I can do and what our committee members can do as a team.

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

What goes on behind closed doors

For the majority of us, we know that mental illness is an invisible one and that's not to say that it's not real. Yet many people will be battling mental illness and the person sat next to them won't even know. You could be sat next to someone who was feeling really depressed or anxious and you perhaps wouldn't even notice and yet there is a war going on in their head. You'd continue to act normally towards them because you wouldn't know any different unless they said. 

I find this incredibly sad that this is the case, not just for those of us who struggle with mental illness, but for other aspects of life. Last night, someone could have lost a close family friend and you wouldn't know any different if they put on a brave face, someone could have self-harmed and if it was covered you would never know. People presume that everything is fine until the contrary is proven and it's scary to think that. This is why we can never know what goes on behind closed doors and I find it fascinating. 

It's important to ask people how they are doing and in return there will be hopefully the acceptance of a helping hand. In the same way, presuming everything is good will never be the correct presumption. Finding out how someone is feeling is the only true way to know and help. Even if it might surprise you, it might be the helping hand that is needed. 

Everything isn't always as it seems.

Amy Xx

Guest post: Neil

An Anxious Comedian Attempts To Talk About It

Public speaking is terrifying. All my life, it's been one of my worst fears... and as someone who has also lived with anxiety for much of my life, that's saying a lot.
But it was also something I've always been drawn towards. This poses a problem. If I don't get up on stage and speak or do standup comedy, I feel weak and pathetic for being too scared to do something I want to do. But if I do, then I have to face my fear of public speaking.
In the end, I decided if I was going to suffer either way, I might as well DO the thing rather than sitting around miserably wishing I had.
For years, this was the arrangement. I'd get up on stage, make jokes, have fun... but one thing remained off limits: talking publicly about my anxiety. This added to the pain my anxiousness caused me – I was too scared of it to even talk about it.
Partly, I think I subconsciously believed that talking aloud about anxiety – even only acknowledging its existence – could somehow make it stronger.
This is wrong, of course. So now I've decided to take that power away from anxiety. I'm sharing about it publicly, to show my anxiety that I don't fear it anymore – and hopefully to help others to do the same.
One of the things I've learned is that opening up is important. And through this I was invited to give a TED talk about my anxiety, where I shared the other important part of what I've learned: that it helps a surprising amount to compare anxiety to custard. Allow me to explain: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Walking-on-Custard-How-Physics
Okay, so if you've seen the video then you'll know a few more things about me... including that I apparently can't operate very simple slide-changing machinery.
But let's ignore that for now. I want to talk more about openness. Like I said, it feels so natural to keep our troubles a secret. We're afraid of judgement, of vulnerability, of being hurt... of so many things.
We shouldn't feel bad about finding it hard to talk. It's natural, it's common, it's human to struggle with vulnerability. But it doesn't have to remain this way.
Bottling anxiety up gives it extra power, and sharing about it takes that power away. More than that: our openness helps others to be open themselves. Each time we share our troubles, we take a small step towards creating a world where more people feel free to say "I feel that way too!"
The more I've spoken publicly about anxiety, the more people have said to me: "Me too!"
Of course, it's crucial to choose how, where and who we share our struggles with. Openness is important, but so is feeling safe.
I think that often the very first step to reduce the power of our anxiety is to begin talking about it with someone that we trust.
It's a long journey from there to peacefulness, but it's a long journey I hope we can share with one another.
Neil Hughes is the author of 'Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life: A Guide for Anxious Humans'. You can find him at www.walkingoncustard.com or talking nonsense on Twitter as @enhughesiasm. He likes it when you say hello.

Public speaking?

When I was contacted by Lydia about her latest info graphic (which you can see in this blog post!) it sparked me to write about public speaking, as it's one of my biggest fears. The last time I ever spoke in front of a group must of been at some point during my A-levels which must be a good few years ago now. I don't know why, but I get severe anxiety over it. As much as I know my content and as much as I go over my breathing techniques, I just can't seem to stop the shaking and the wobbly voice. I've got to say that it's a situation I dread. 

I know that as I get older, I'm going to have to tackle it more often and I won't always be able to avoid it. I'm hoping that as I tackle my anxiety and grow my confidence, the more I will be able stand in front of a group of people. I'll be honest, I am unsure as to what it is that makes me nervous, because it's not the worry of judgement (unless it's something super important!) Nevertheless, I think it's just about time and practice that makes it easer.

I'd love to know your stories and if you have any tips on the issue! The info graphic that I have included in this blog post is very helpful and I hope it can support you too. 

Amy Xx

Guest post: Mary's story


Anxiety: A Half Life

I am thirty years old and I have had anxiety since I was fifteen; I’m assuming there must have been some kind of trigger but I’ve never been able to pin it down to one specific moment in my life. Perhaps that’s not important anyway.
            Anxiety feeling out of control but having to be in control. It’s being afraid but being unable to name the fear.
            I have had anxiety for fifteen years but it feels like forever, I can’t remember how it feels not to have anxiety anymore and I’m terrified this will always be my life. For the last ten years I have been agoraphobic, for six months out of those ten years I couldn’t leave my bedroom, for the last two years I was making progress, getting out with my husband, visiting family – I even made it on a bus!  - but then three months ago I was in town with my mum and had a BIG panic attack, you know the kind where you think you’re going to pass out and be sick? Lovely! As you can imagine I was devastated, it was the first time anxiety had made me go back home in two years and since then I’ve been struggling to do the things I was doing so well at...walking the dogs, going out to town with a friend...so I did what I should have done a long time ago – I asked for help.
            I had done this once before in my old town but the mental health service was...less than helpful. I was basically told if you can’t get in to see us we can’t help you – not very helpful for someone suffering with agoraphobia!
            Luckily the new county I live in has an excellent mental health service and I was put on medication, which after a bit of trial and error began to work and appointments were made for me to begin CBT which best of all could be done over the phone!
            I have been on Fluoxetine for a month now and so far I’ve had CBT three times; I’ve learnt that when I thought I was doing well I actually wasn’t because I was using ‘safety behaviours’ such as my MP3, bottle of water, tissues and always having someone with me which meant I wasn’t letting my brain deal with or learn how to cope with anxiety. So now I go out every day without any safety behaviours, so far I can only get to the top of my street but it’s such an achievement for me and my therapist is really happy with my progress; my next aim is to get to the shops by myself and then I’ll be going in a shop, alone for the first time in...far too long!
            It’s hard and it’s horrible because the only way you can get over it is by letting yourself feel the anxiety which is the hardest thing in the world. It’s like if someone was scared of snakes and the only way for them to get over the fear was to stand in a bucket of snakes for one hour...but will it be worth it? YES!

Mary Hoyle

tree-trunk@hotmail.co.uk

Self-harm

This post may be triggering. Please do not continue reading if you feel it may be. 

According to selfharm.co.uk The phrase ‘self-harm’ is used to describe a wide range of behaviours. Self-harm is often understood to be a physical response to an emotional pain of some kind.' 

Self harm can often come in conjunction with a range mental illnesses, including depression. From a personal perspective it is something that reduces the pain and struggle that I am feeling. Although I don't self harm regularly, I have done so and in a few different ways, which I wont list here for trigger reasons. When it all becomes too much and I cannot see a way out, I see it as the lesser of the two evils at the time. And although it may provide temporary relief, I try to avoid it if possible because of the way I feel afterwards - which is often worse. 

Self harming can come in a range of different ways and can be under the umbrella of self harm if it is done purposely. It is also possible for it to become addictive. 

I want you to know that it's nothing to be ashamed of. I know in public, it's something that many people hide by covering up their wrists and body or by staying inside. It's something people would never know about unless you saw it. But, never feel ashamed. You're not weak for self-harming because you are fighting through something so massive that you cannot hold onto the pain.

For some, there is a misunderstanding that it is about attention, and although this may be a very negligible amount, it seems almost incomprehensible that someone would want to harm themselves to such a painful and horrific extent, that it was just for attention. It's well known that it can be a symptom of a range of mental illnesses. 

You and I both know that it's a difficult issue to talk about, because I myself find it difficult to tell people when I have self-harmed. But, it is so important to talk to someone because there is usually a route cause of the problem. It's easier said than done, but getting help is so important. I have done it, and I know you have the strength to do it too.

I will write another post about some help and tips for overcoming self-harm soon.

Stay strong. I know it's hard, but you can bounce back. 

Amy Xx









I am an adult!

I know that this seems quite silly, but if you're a long time reader of mine then you'll know that I once wrote a post about myself being seven years old and how I keep being dragged back to that period of my life, no matter how old I get. For those of you who are unaware, when I was seven I had deal with a difficult period in my life which has stuck with me. Unfortunately it tends to mean that whenever I am in a situation which makes me anxious, it tends to bring me back to that age. To explain more clearly, one reason why I have never gotten a paid job is because I feel I wouldn't be able to handle it or just break down in front of the customer. Now, this is the seven year old me response, not a 20 year old me response. I know that I could handle it if I needed to, but because it is so subconscious, it is an automatic response for me, which I have tackled over time with CBT, medication and various other therapies. 

Talking to my counsellor recently, I've been reminded that I am an adult. And rather than resorting back to my seven year old me, I can instead look after my younger self, but protect her and tell her everything will be okay. It's like taking your little sister to the shop - you as an adult would say that you'll be there with her and will help her with anything she needs and this is exactly the same with how I'm supposed to look after my 'younger self'.

Taking this in mind, I remind myself every day that I am an adult. I say this to myself. Although this sounds silly, it really is important for me to do because it allows me to overcome my subconscious mind and react and be in control in a way which is relative to my age. It helps me immensely. It reminds me that I'm not that shy seven year old any more with little confidence, I am an adult who is paying rent and bills, driving and travelling.

What's your view?
Amy Xx

Breaking a habit of a lifetime

Last month, I took a break with my family and friends to a lovely house near the coast. This was during the Easter break and I was extremely reluctant to go because I hate things being out my routine. Although the thought of it seemed lovely, I just felt so uncomfortable knowing that I wasn't going to be home during this time and that it was something that I wouldn't usually do in such a small break at home. Although I usually don't do things that would put me out of sorts, I thought I would go because I was invited and it would've have been rude not to, alongside the fact that I didn't want to lose any time that I would have spent with friends and family. 

I did end up going, and I have to say that I had a fantastic time. It was lovely to take a break away from my usual routine and now I know what its like, I would go again! It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle and experience new things. It did really help me to clear my head too. It just showed me that being stuck in the same routine, however safe you may feel, doesn't always mean that it will be the most beneficial thing to do. As I experienced, It didn't make me feel that unstable at all, which was lovely. 

What do you think?
Let me know! 
Amy Xx

Amy's update

Hello guys,

I thought I would take this opportunity to update you as to what is going on in my life. 

I'm currently in the middle of my summer exams for my second year of studying law at university and I can't believe I've pretty much finished second year. If all goes according to plan, I will be graduating next year! It's really weird because it doesn't seem that long ago that I was in sixth form.

I'm also currently searching for summer paid jobs for when I come home from university. This will be the first time I have had a paid job and it's my top trigger for my anxiety. I have done my fair amount of voluntary work to build up to this and now I feel that it's my time to tackle this trigger. Hopefully all goes according to plan.

I will also be driving alone for the first time this Summer. As many of you know, I have now passed my driving test and I now have the chance to take this to the road, so to speak! This is another anxiety provoking thing for me, but yet again I feel it's time to battle this.

I'm also going travelling a fair bit this summer, which is super exciting. Travelling is one of my favourite things to do and I find it way more important to spend money on experiences than material things. It will be my first holiday abroad with my boyfriend and then, my friends. I know I managed to get back from Germany by myself last year, so I'm looking forward to seeing what these holidays can bring. 

I'm also now the president of my university's mental health society. I'm hoping that I can really make a change to those who are suffering in silence. It's going to be a lot of hard work, but it's something I'm really passionate about.

All of this takes time, and I didn't think I would ever get to stage where I would feel that I could tackle these things. Don't get me wrong, I certainly feel out of my comfort zone when approaching these things, but I feel capable of overcoming them. You too will get there.

Amy Xx



I'll never get a job

I find that one of the main reasons people struggling secretly with their mental health is because of the fear that they won't be able to get a job. I was once one of those people too, but now I don't necessarily see it in the same way. People feel that by declaring that they have a mental illness, or by it being on their doctor's notes, that they won't be able to get a job because people will see them in a different light to the rest of their colleagues or applicants. 

Firstly, it's important to note that there are discrimination laws which makes it illegal for a company to stigmatise you based upon your mental illness. As far as I am aware, you can take them to court if you find this happening. Secondly, I know a lot of people who are currently in jobs who have mental illnesses and are coping just fine. I have also had various types of work experience and volunteering and I haven't been asked about my mental health and if I have declared it, it hasn't been an issue.

Ultimately, the main question you have to ask yourself, is whether you want to live your life in pain whilst having the knowledge that you may or may not get hired regardless of your mental illness, or would you rather live a happy life with the high chance of a full recovery, having been diagnosed with a mental illness and still having the possibility of getting a job? I chose the latter, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

What do you think? Do you have any extra information on this matter? 

Amy Xx

Something different | Win £150!

Hello guys,

So this post is very different to what I usually do, but I thought that some of you may be interested. I have recently been contacted to see if my readers would like to be involved in a competition for the chance to win £150 to spend at brand attic. 

For those of you who don't know, Brand Attic is a fashion company. So, you'd get to spend the £150 on a lovely new wardrobe for yourself, whether you're into men's or women's fashion.

All you have to do, to be in with the chance to win this £150 is to enter the competition, by clicking here.

Have you entered? Let me know!

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

I should?

I've always been hard on myself. My best has never been good enough and even when I had done something well, I never let myself revel in it for too long before I move on to what I think should be my next improvement. 

I found myself talking to my counsellor about this and I also wrote about this in a previous post, that I should be over a traumatic experience by now, I should have a paid job by now and the list could go on. I'm forever searching for ways to be better and although we should all strive to become better people, I find that it is becoming detrimental that I am never feeling that I am good enough or if I do well and I don't give myself a chance to celebrate. It was suggested that part of the reason for this may be because I don't like attention drawn to me, thus I tend to move on quickly from achievements. It's hard to dwell too much on what I've achieved and it's probably about time that I did. 

I feel that the more pressure we put on ourselves in regards to our lives and mental illnesses, the worse we are going to feel. There is no one else out there telling me what I should be doing and what I should overcome because I am on my own journey and I am not competing with others. We all have our individual qualities, and what we may think are aspects that we need to improve about ourselves, may be someone else's goal. It's important to give yourself credit for what you have achieved as mental illness is an extremely hard battle. It may take a lot of willpower to take the stress off of yourself and allow yourself to stretch out and accept the strength that you have - I know it will for me. I have been trying to be easier on myself for many years and although I have improved a bit, it is still really hard for me to let go of that niggling voice that is telling me to do more and to be better. But, it is possible to improve and I hope you can join me on this journey. 

Let's try to take some time to reflect on all of things we are proud of and all of things we have achieved. You may be surprised at how well you have done. 



Amy Xx

Negative to positive

Mental illness is a horrible disease. It kills, it destroys people's lives and it doesn't have concern for who it attacks next. 

I can safely say that during darkest depths of my depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety, it was hell on earth and even to this day I can still struggle.  But in a strange way, I feel it has made me who I am. I feel perhaps without this challenge in my life, I might not have achieved all of the things that anxiety has made me do. I feel if I hadn't been on this journey, then I wouldn't have gotten to the level of strength that I have today. I don't think I would have ever gotten out of my comfort zone and I reckon I would still be super shy with no driving license, without voluntary work and with never travelling by myself. Although this condition is so very detrimental, without the challenges that I had to overcome to live my life, I think I would still be doing very little and I think a lot of experiences I would have missed too, so in this way I am grateful.

I think it's important to see what your journey has brought you. Even with all the hell that you have been through, looking to see if there has been any miraculous times during struggle, might help you. I think you will surprised as to what you might find. 

Be proud,
Amy Xx