Ever since I was a child I have been known to worry incessantly and like most children I went through phases of feeling anxious over a lot of things like staying at other people’s houses or being home alone. However, my worrying was never a cause for concern until I turned 16 and it started to get in the way of my everyday life.
In my last year of secondary school I started to have completely untriggered anxiety attacks surrounding the thought of leaving my house and going to school. Of course, the instant reaction from everyone around me was to assume I was being bullied but that really wasn’t the case, I had always enjoyed school so it was a shock for me that I was starting to wish I could just stay home. In turn this made me horribly depressed and the toxic mixture of the two was slightly more than I could handle. At first, I tried to completely ignore the issue, like most do in that situation, but fortunately (to my disdain at the time) I had supportive friends and family members that gave me a push towards trying therapy.
My experience with counselling wasn’t all that positive at first and I think that was mostly down to my attitude towards it. I wasn’t ready to be helped, I knew I wasn’t well but I wanted to stew in that feeling for a while because I’d grown comfortable with those feelings. Nobody had clued me in to the fact that counselling isn’t a one and done deal, the truth is you actually have to shop around and experiment with different kinds of therapy and different counsellors in order to find a combination that will ultimately work for you. Without this information I assumed that this whole thing had been pointless and I was a hopeless case that nobody would be able to help. In reality I just needed to change my mindset, explore other avenues, and go into counselling with a more positive outlook.
As a result of this bout of therapy I was put onto anti-depressants by order of my counsellor and they completely changed everything. I may not have been able to leave the house but I could at least get out of bed now, I could shower and get dressed, my mind didn’t feel as foggy which was brilliant. However, my anxiety was still through the roof and I was asked to drop out of sixth form so I could focus on my mental health. So, while all my peers were studying for their A levels and preparing for their future I was struggling to walk to the local shop and keep my heart rate down.
After 3 more attempts at counselling I was given the chance to try a messaging system online where you talk to a therapist once a week in a chat room and for some reason, whether it was that particular therapist or my utter determination to finally get better and be a ‘regular’ 19-year-old, it seemed to work. It was around this time that I started a trial of hypnotherapy which was a truly positive experience for me, which brings me to where I’m at now.
I’m not in the position that I want to be in but I have come an extremely long way and for that I’ll be eternally proud of myself. Yes, I went through (and I’m still sometimes going through) this horrible time but that horrible time also made me who I am. I take pleasure in the tiniest things now and appreciate everything so much more because I wasn’t sure I’d still be here to encounter them. I’ve learnt more about myself than I ever thought I would because I was forced to be introspective in order to heal.
MIND (a charity founded to help people with mental health issues) states that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year thus I feel it’s integral to be open and honest about our experiences with mental health issues so that one day we may be able to remove the stigma that still surrounds it. It’s important that people feel safe to share their stories and ultimately receive the help they deserve. As it’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek now is as good a time as any. Reach out to friends if you think that they are struggling, sometimes even just this gesture is enough to make someone feel better. If you’re struggling yourself there are websites such as MIND and The Samaritans that you can visit to find out how you can find support. You are never alone.