#LetsTalkAnxiety: My Story

Tuesday, 27 October 2015
When the lovely Robyn started her #LetsTalkAnxiety campaign, I was over the moon. Mental health is such an important topic to me and I don't think it can be talked about too much. In the world that we live in now, it seems so bizarre that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is only just starting to be broken down, and too many people are still ignorant to illnesses that affect so many.

I've been desperate to do my own post for #LetsTalkAnxiety, but I've put it off until now because I wasn't sure if I was ready to talk so personally. But I've decided to just bite the bullet and go for it. Here it goes...

Anxiety, coupled with depression, came knocking at my door in October 2013, when I was in my second year at university. It took hold of me quickly, and very nearly destroyed my life. Then family problems and the breakdown of my relationship acted as a catalyst, and anxiety's grip grew tighter.

Every single day became a struggle. The mundane things were the hardest. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, going out to uni or work. On good days, the panic attacks wouldn't start until I got to my front door. On my worst days, I couldn't even get out of bed.

For anyone who's never had a panic attack before, it's a horrible feeling, and often different for each person. I'd often feel like my front door was bricked up, I was trapped. My whole body would start to shake, my breathing would accelerate and my heartbeat would skyrocket. My legs would go so weak that I couldn't stand, and I would cry uncontrollably. My thoughts would race around my brain so quickly that I would go dizzy, and couldn't decipher anything that I was feeling or how I could make it stop. The only thing that stood out was "I can't. I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't. I can't."

At my lowest, I would spend hours curled up in bed, or in the corner of my room, unable to move or even think rationally. Weeks became months, uni became non-existent and my life disintegrated before my eyes. Anxiety had warped me into a person that I didn't recognise. The girl who was once sociable and outgoing had shrunk into herself, become withdrawn and only felt safe in bed or at her mum's house. Every time I tried to rebuild what I was losing, the anxiety would tear it down again.

For seven months, I suffered in silence. Not telling anyone what I was going through was the absolute worst thing that I could have done for myself. If you take nothing else away from this post, please take away this- do not keep your anxiety to yourself. Tell someone, anyone. You are not mentally strong enough to handle the intensity of anxiety on your own, and that's okay, because no one is.

My hand was forced. The end of the academic year was fast approaching and none of my assessments were done. Everything that I had worked for since I was 11 years old was about to come crashing down around my ears and I didn't know what to do.

I dragged myself to see my personal tutor and told her everything. It was such a relief to finally get everything that I'd bottled up for so long out in the open. She was absolutely fantastic and arranged for me to take a leave of absence and catch up on what I'd missed the next year.

I then had to go home and tell my mum everything. That was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. I was terrified of letting her down. She was heartbroken that I'd gone through this on my own, but she just hugged me, told me she loved me and that we would sort this out. She held my hand at the doctor's while I was prescribed anti-depressants and was referred for counselling. She called every day to see how I was, and talked things through with me when I was struggling. She's been my absolute rock.

Fast-forward 18 months and I'm in a much better place. I went through 10 months of counselling (which I've done a separate post on here), and that helped me come to terms with my past and taught me how to move forward. I got through last year at uni (I even got a first in one of my modules!) and I'm now in my final year. My boyfriend is so supportive, he's helped me through my worst and is still brilliant at calming me down when anxiety hits.

I still have panic attacks and find social situations scary. Busy clubs and bars are my worst enemy at the minute and there are still days where I have to force myself out of the door. But recovery is a long process and I'm so grateful for how far I've come in the last year. I'm finally recognising myself in the mirror again, and now I'm that little bit stronger.

This post wasn't easy for me to write, but if it helps just one person to know that they're not alone, or inspires someone to seek help, it'll be completely worth it.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need to talk. Don't suffer alone. Your feelings are valid and you will get through it, no matter how hopeless it seems. I promise.

Love,
Sian Kathrine xo

For Robyn's post on the #LetsTalkAnxiety campaign, have a look here.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for writing a post for #LetsTalkAnxiety! If I could get anything out of it it would be that you feel a little bit of a weight lifted off your shoulder, and that one other person reads this and feels like they are not alone!

    Weirdly enough I had such a similar thing happen - my anxiety came about early in my second year of uni, I ended up suspending and planned to go back the next September but I never did. To be honest it just wasn't for me - I'm so proud that you finished it and did well!!

    Hope you feel fab for letting out your thoughts on this post - message me whenever if you need a chat!

    Robyn / www.phasesofrobyn.com

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    1. Thank you for inspiring me to write it! It was actually so good to get it all off my chest- I've been wanting to be open about my anxiety for months and I'm so glad I did! xo

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  2. You are an amazing person. So proud of you being so open and getting awareness out. Know that we will support you in anyway we can.

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  3. Mental health is something I'm really passionate about too (I'm recovered from anorexia) so it's great to see a post like this. You're clearly an amazing, strong person and I'm so pleased to hear you're doing much better now. Obviously, if there's anything we can do to help, give me a shout! xx

    Sam // Samantha Betteridge

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    1. Well done you for recovering! It's the hardest thing in the world but so worth it once you get to the point of recovery! :D Thank you sweetie, you too! xo

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