Where I Am Now

October 10th 2017 is World Mental Health Day, on this day, I would like to share to you all about the last twelve months of my existence on planet Earth and going from rock bottom to now fairly alright but not practically perfect thoughts and feelings. At this time last year, I was a eighteen year old faced with a very difficult choice: Drop out of education and have no back-up plans or stay in full-time classes quietly struggling with mental health issues. The first term was only halfway in but the steps I took made me realise that something wasn’t quite right. Faced with dropping out and leaving quietly or being kicked off the course, the decision to walk away was an extremely hard and painful one to make. Almost immediately, I lost friends, I lost my trust in people and furthermore, I had lost me. Being cut off with no support, this resulted in drastic measures to try and at least use social media to talk to people, alone, afraid, it was a very dark time.

I kept myself to myself and eventually, I did start to go out again having good times and not so good ones. Falling into contact with people I shouldn’t really have started talking to in the first place. In March of this year, I started volunteering for a local charity in one of their shops. Even though I enjoyed things at first, my passion for things already broken by dropping out of education caused me to walk away, citing it as being too stressful.

Getting a place on a new course was something of an accomplishment but I knew things weren’t going to be plain sailing. As of right now, I do have off days where my joints ache or all of a sudden during lessons, I feel depressed. I still spend most of my time alone at home or in College, my social anxiety and shyness still holding me back from having a good time. It’s always going to be in the back of my mind that I might not get through the year or end up going to University straight away. It’s really sad when people tell you that because you have an Anxiety disorder, you don’t deserve to go to University.

I do have a few options open to me currently at the moment such as having therapy sessions again which I am keeping in mind. What I will say is that writing really helps me to open up about my thoughts and letting my imagination run free. My boyfriend puts up with my awkwardness but just having a little cuddle with him honestly makes my day.

Most of the time, I do feel this pressure to be perfect and tell myself that if I’m not social or haven’t done all of the planned revision for classes, then I hate myself for it for days on end. Take this weekend for example, I just slept most of the time when I wasn’t at the festival and was fairly cross with myself about that.

Rounding off this post now by saying please try writing things down if you don’t feel able to talk to someone. Keep a diary or even write a monologue about the day’s events so then you can show to someone you trust.

Stay safe, thanks for reading.

Alice.

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#MentalHealthMonday- Building Up Friendships with an Anxiety Disorder.

Hello everyone, I do apologize for my inactivity here. I felt like I needed to have a bit of a breather from blogging to finish off some other things happening offline but I’m back with another Mental Health Monday post which is to concern with making friends with others whilst having to deal with an Anxiety disorder.

Being social is definitely not my strong suit. Having speech therapy from a young age was meant to help me communicate better with others and lead an active life filled with friends and going out to lots of different places. It didn’t help much. When I discovered writing, I felt alive. Finally I could speak and express myself without opening my mouth. But to some teachers at school, that was a problem. I needed to talk to others.

I remember one time when I was 11 and seeing a group of students at my old school sitting on a picnic bench and noticing me standing alone in the corner by a building. One of them yelled, “Hey, come and sit with us.” But I didn’t know who they were and they looked way out of my league so I said politely, “No thank you.” And I walked off towards somewhere quiet to sit down. After that, I was told off by a teacher for not spending time with them. And this is where today comes in.

Personally, I feel that you shouldn’t be forced into sitting down and talking to people that make you feel uncomfortable or not be put on the spot like that. Being told off wasn’t really the best outcome either. This event happened long before my Anxiety disorder diagnosis but for me, I don’t regret sitting down with these group of people.

The same thing happened at College in my first year, I was being introduced to groups of other students who I simply didn’t want to talk to either because I found them too intimating or they simply didn’t want to talk to me because of a lack of interests.

What I will say is that I do have some very close friends now which is great but it took me a long time to find the people I truly did want to build friendships with. My tips for this post are:

  1. Find people with similar interests to you which can build a better connection.
  2. Don’t be forced on the spot to talk to someone, always speak up if you find this uncomfortable, be truthful.
  3. If your Anxiety is telling you that a person is sending off some bad vibes, listen to it and walk away.
  4. Do not beat yourself up if you don’t get friends quickly. Keep looking and stay yourself.
  5. If you haven’t been diagnosed with an Anxiety disorder and you do feel nervous/unwell about being around other people, go to your GP or speak to a councillor about it. The sooner, the better.

That’s it for today’s post, see you all on Monday for the next mental health update. If you have any tips/stories that you would like to share, post them in the comments section. Love to hear from you.

Next week’s post: Travelling Out With Anxiety.

Alice x

World Mental Health Day: Being The Victim of Stigma Negatively.

Today is October 10th also known as World Mental Health Day and I thought as part of the day that I would talk about my Anxiety as I have done previously on my blog as well as how being the victim of the stigma ruined chances for a positive social life.

It’s coming up to the fourth year anniversary when I first started to experience the symptoms of Anxiety. And the stigma was rapid from the start. People in and out of school all told me it was hormonal and just a general part of growing up, I don’t think crying yourself to sleep every night and having panic attacks where you simply can’t breathe well is normal at all. Things were getting worse when the bullying picked up, having a panic attack nearly everyday changed things for me. One supply teacher who knew darn well that I was having a panic attack simply told me to get a glass of water, sip it and then cheer up wearing a fake smile on my face as so not to attract attention. I was mortified. More so by that person’s actions towards me. It left me realizing that people weren’t seeing what I was seeing because they hadn’t experienced it for themselves.

College wasn’t much better, I was simply told to throw myself into my coursework and care more about my grades than my personal issues. I stopped eating some foods for a while in a bid to try and get myself sorted out but just as I turned eighteen this year, I knew that my mental health had taken a very serious turn for the worst.

Currently sitting here typing this, I feel ashamed. I mean, why is this happening to me and for so long? Was it my own stupidity or the actions from other people? Always having a low self-esteem and negative body image could have trigger things off all of those months ago. In my view, its too late for me to try and get any professional help, counselling for just under a year didn’t work. So that’s why I am passionate about helping others before it gets too late to seek help.

Up until last year, I wouldn’t talk about my anxiety or sometimes unsettling thoughts but after someone I knew from school told me to shut-up and not talk about mental health and share my experiences to the community online and offline, my response was, “No, I won’t be shut-up or made to feel shamed as a silent person, I will talk!” And that is my attitude now. If people don’t want to support me or allow me to talk about my mental health challenges, they can go and lump it.

This article about a girl I saw today on the BBC talks about her experiences with Bulimia and just like her, I was simply told to cheer up whenever I had a panic attack. Here’s the article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37547497

There are mornings when I wake up and the first thing I think about is something bad that happened between myself and another person. I criticise myself a lot, not really accepting compliments well. My aim at the moment is to try and make people realize that mental health is an important topic for discussion and judging anyone is NOT OK.

If you know someone who has a mental health issue and/was the victim of stigma, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading, this post was difficult to type up.

Alice x

Let’s Talk About Social Anxiety

Hey readers! This is not going to be a blog post to do with books so I’m sorry if you were hoping to see one today. But as well as blogging about books and hosting blog tours, I vowed at the start of the summer holidays to talk more about mental health as I think it is an important topic that shouldn’t be ignored. Since the age of fourteen, I’ve been living with anxiety and when it first struck in school, my world was to change. Up until last year, shyness at times proved to be a problem but at the start of the year, I discovered just what exactly I had: Social Anxiety. So what is Social Anxiety and what big an impact does it play in everyday life? Let’s talk!

Social Anxiety is when you either have the fear to talk or simply talk too much to shelter the nerves and other anxieties you may have. Taking class for example, on Wednesday just gone I didn’t talk a lot but on Friday, I just couldn’t shut up talking about Pixar films. A lot of people I know get shy or nervous before doing public speaking for example but in my case, it’s a lot more difficult. There are days when I wake up and just hate the sound of my own voice. And on other days, I just sing (badly) in the shower or when I’m sat down on the family computer listening to music on YouTube for example and not have a problem. As Jessie J once said in her song Nobody’s Perfect, “Sometimes I can’t shut the hell up.” I can relate to that. The issue here is trying to find the perfect balance for talking. Being told off for both talking and not talking at all I feel doesn’t really help me. It’s basically a polite way of telling a person to shut-up but mentally, you have to time it right and think before you speak otherwise the consequences can be brutal.

My accent at times can be funny, it does have an American twang sometimes but I’m part Scottish on my father’s side of the family so one of my friends thought I was generally from Scotland. I am from England but it’s clear to see why my voice is misinterpreted which in all honesty contributes to negative thoughts I have about the way I speak. I like writing because it’s like talking but I don’t have to open my mouth. I can just sit tucked up in bed, iPad on my lap, on WordPress tapping away. My escape, my own voice that I generally like.

Because of my Social Anxiety, I have been left out of many birthday party invitations from when I was in Secondary School and struggled to really find people away from the Internet with the same interests as myself. I prefer to be alone in my room because my Social Anxiety doesn’t flair up as much but being branded as a loner tips up the perfectly balanced see-saw. I had plans to go to some book festivals this year but that sadly didn’t happen because of the flair-ups I had.

I think that mental health is important and an interesting reading part in Fiction. Still looking for a great read that deals with Social Anxiety but now I’m interested in studying Psychology at University because of my experiences with mental health. University is a great distance away yet since I don’t have enough grades to get there (I’m working on it).

My coping mechanisms for Social Anxiety are:

– Taking time from physically talking to do some writing, my blog helps me with that just well.

– Never being afraid to say no to someone/something if you personally don’t feel comfortable. My parents know that I don’t like going out for meals at night but I do during the day so it’s all about the perfect balance as I mentioned earlier.

– Singing, try karaoke or put the radio on. I fall asleep with the radio at night, other times I sing myself to sleep.

– Avoiding certain social situations. I love to talk to my family on the phone but not with anyone else I don’t know all that well.

If you have any other coping mechanisms, feel free to write them in the comments section. I hope that you enjoyed this post, it is a bit deep and people have told me not to blog about mental health so instead of physically talking about it, I write about it because my writing voice doesn’t and will never be silenced.

Alice x

PS Any good blogs about mental health?