Mental health and me.

I assume I had issues with anxiety before I became aware it was really affecting me. It was insidious, brewing thoughts up in the back of my mind which inevitiably swayed me, usually to a decision of inaction over something. There are a lot of somethings to be avoided in life; jobs, socialising, relationships, hobbies. At some point I convinced myself I just didn’t want a relationship, or I didn’t have the time for that activity, that people wont like me or want me around so what’s the point in going to that party.

When the part of you that knows you need something more finally screams loud enough to push past the anxiety and go somewhere it often results in feeling awkward, being stupid or keeping out the way. It’s an issue that constantly holds you back and keeps you down when you try and acheive more.

At the start of last year I got food poisoning and was ill for about a week, I think that’s roughly when it started getting worse. Passing my degree didn’t seem to help, I found myself suddenly with more time on my hands to think and too often those thoughts were of futility and pointlessness. It wasn’t strong at first, probaly caused me to make some stupid decisions, but at the end of the summer health issues started changing my appetite. Eventually I had an IBS episode that put me into a what at the time I thought of as an epic panic attack. The next week was filled with panic after eating, 1 anti anxity pill which put me in a state where I realised how small that first one had been. Several trips to the doctors and the anxiety seemed to drop, but it left me with fluctuating depression and one and a half stone lighter. The only way I can describe it at its worst is a feeling of utter despair.

After a couple months of this, reading the NHS website and others about the issues I have, I started making some changes, I am getting out and doing a lot more photography, exercise and some conservation site maintenance work, for me the outdoors is incredibly therapeautic. I went through a course of group cognitive behavioural therapy, learning to understand my anxiety and techniques to combat negative thoughts and panic attacks, as well as some work on self esteem issues. Since then I’ve applied for a masters degree abroad, and looking at several others in case that one falls through. I still get the feeling of despair every now and then when my gut plays up but I’m having this looked into further, whether its a direct cause or just a psychological trigger I don’t know.

I guess the point of this is that if you have issues there are people out there to help you, the issue you have may prevent you from doing something you really want that may not even work out, but you’ll probably feel worse for not trying to do it. I let it get out of control and it took a massive fall to ask for help, you don’t have to let it get this far. Talk to your doctor or check the NHS website for local CBT groups in the UK.


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