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