You may not know this, but I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I had my first real panic attack when I was 14 years old while climbing a mountain in the Lake District. I remember feeling like I was going to die from having a heart attack, dramatic I know, but if you have also suffered panic attacks, you’ll know just how scary they can be.
The reason I am writing this post is to open up, and stop hiding behind my anxiety like it’s a forbidden secret that should never be mentioned.
I hope that this post inspires others to talk openly about their struggles with anxiety and depression. It’s a very common illness that a lot of people tend to keep to themselves.
But I’m here to tell you that you don’t need too.
You don’t need to carry this weight on your shoulders, day in day out, like I have. There are so many people out there that are willing to listen, willing to give you help and advice on how to cope during challenging situations, including myself. I am more than happy to share with you what I do to help keep my anxiety at bay, so you can put these techniques in to practice yourself.
My anxiety was at it’s peak when I started University. Leaving home, not knowing a single soul, having to make new friends, learning to live in a new city, all became a bit much for me.
Every night I went out with friends I would have a panic attack. It got to the point where I was worried about going out because I knew an anxiety attack was around the corner. Alcohol didn’t help this, of course.
I felt completely claustrophobic 99% of the time and I hated it. I felt trapped. I was surrounded by people constantly but felt so alone.
My University years feel like a bit of a blur, it was constant stress and I felt so overwhelmed all of the time. I suffered a lot of panic attacks, depression, I cried way too much, I was a wreck.
I remember I wrote something on Facebook about it, and a friend reached out to me, giving me advice on how to cope and keep my anxiety at a controllable level. She also talked through anxiety with me; what would trigger it, how many of us it effects, breathing techniques to put into practice.
This made me feel a little normal again, as I realised that anxiety and depression wasn’t so rare and actually 1 in 3 people suffer from it.
I wasn’t alone, and neither are you.
I put in to practice some of the advice that my friend had emailed me. How to control my breathing, taking myself out of stressful situations, learning how to calm myself down during a panic attack.
Eventually I taught myself how to cope, and what to do when I could feel a panic attack about to happen.
Since meeting my partner Anthony, my anxiety has calmed down so much. I really feel that true happiness is the core of keeping your anxiety at bay. I have also learnt that he has the same struggles, so we help each other through rough times, because we both understand what we are coping with. This has only brought us closer together.
I am happy to say that I now only have a panic attack probably twice a year, maybe more depending on certain circumstances. I use to have them every day, and no one should have to live their life like that. It’s like living in torment, and the smallest of things can set you off. You just have to learn how to control your anxiety, breath through it and realise that the situation is not the end of the world.
I started yoga, which I find extremely therapeutic, so I find this really helps. When the stress of a busy lifestyle feels like it’s getting too much, I take myself off into the countryside for a walk. There are so many ways to help you through anxiety, here are a few examples that I find really help me –
*Stop what you’re doing and remove yourself from the situation
*Close your eyes and control your breathing
*Take a walk
*Go and do something that makes you happy, whether that be reading a book, going for a run or taking the dog for a walk
Don’t get me wrong, It’s still a daily struggle and juggling a 9-5 job, my business and family life can get too much at times, but I’m learning to manage my time and I think I’m doing ok.
It wasn’t easy for me to write this post. I’m only human and I worry about being judged, if prospective clients will think I’m not capable because I have a ‘mental illness’, but with the support of the ladies over in the Shining Lights group and seeing how brave they are all being gave me the push I needed to be myself. Authentic and open hearted. Honest.
Because this is me. I have struggles and I am not perfect.
And if this post just inspires one person to put themselves out there, or someone reaches out to me for help or advice, then it’ll be so worth it.
I would love to know if you struggle with anxiety or depression, and what you have put in to practice to cope during challenging situations. Get in touch, we can meet up for a coffee/chat and help each other out.
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