Before I begin, I am so sorry that a blog didn’t go live on Wednesday when it was supposed to – yet again, I’ve been so unwell and my mind just hasn’t been focused on anything but that! But I am back now, and will be staying on schedule from now onwards.
So today, I thought I’d do a more personal blog post. Blogging about anxiety has always been highly requested, and a lot of you have asked for me to do a post on the different coping strategies I’ve experienced and how I’ve found them.
As you all know, I suffer with anxiety. I have never been ashamed to admit it, and have publicly spoken about it to an audience of tens of thousands simply because it is nothing to be ashamed of.
As a bit of back story, I’ve had anxiety for quite a long time. I got attacked when I was about 14, and severely harassed and bullied by the person who attacked me for 2 years afterwards, which resulted in me having severe anxiety, and also depression. I hated life for a very long time, and I absolutely detested school.
Anyway, this made me very jumpy, always thinking something bad was about to happen, and fearing life a little bit. However it only got truly bad, after May 2013, when I was seriously ill in hospital with a rare and spontaneous bleeding disorder. I’d never had issues with my health before, so after this, I contracted severe health anxiety, fearing absolutely every ache and pain, convincing myself I had deadly diseases every single day.
I knew my anxiety was slowly getting worse for a very long time, but in November last year I knew it had gotten unbearable. I began to fear going out, I felt unsafe and like something terrible was going to happen every time I left the house. I can’t even count how many important meetings and events for my blog I had to cancel because it meant travelling to London and I was just not in the right headspace to do that.
If you remember a few months ago, I posted on Twitter saying I was taking a break from social media and my blog due to personal reasons, that was because of my anxiety. It had reached a level where I physically couldn’t even write a blog post; I would sit in bed staring into nothing, dreading life, crying because I was so petrified of terrible things happening, not wanting to leave the house, becoming convinced I was dying of a truly terrible disease and wasn’t going to wake up in the morning.
In this blog post, I want to go through each method I’ve tried to cope with, and reduce my anxiety, so that if any of you reading this are currently struggling, you can think about your options and hopefully come out stronger and happier the other side.
I started therapy a few months ago now with a therapist in Brighton. I’m unsure how much it’s helped me if I’m honest – I know some people hugely benefit from it, but I have found it so far, to be mainly talking about the problem rather than giving me actual ways on how to deal with it. I find there’s been a lot of emphasis on aspects of my anxiety that are really not that important, rather than the aspects that are hugely affecting me. My therapist is really lovely but I don’t think that it’s actually helped my anxiety that much.
You can go to your GP and speak about the problems you’re facing and they can refer you onwards from there.
A few people on Twitter recommended me to go for hypnotherapy when I mentioned struggling with anxiety, so I looked into it and booked a session with a lady in Sussex.
Just a warning, it isn’t exactly cheap. It costs £90 for a 45 minute/1 hour session. It involved me sitting in a comfortable reclining chair, and the lady sitting opposite. We spoke for about half an hour about the issues I was facing with anxiety, and then I closed my eyes and reclined with my feet up and she spoke for around 30 minutes, which was the hypnotherapy. To be honest I can’t really remember exactly what she was saying, I was really relaxed and it was a few months ago now. But after the session, I felt great and really positive and better than I had in months.
I was messaging everyone saying how great I felt and how I thought I was finally getting better, but then that evening I started to feel incredibly anxious again, so I feel like the hypnotherapy had a bit of a placebo effect on me.
She recommended at least two or three sessions to help resolve the anxiety, but if I’m being totally and completely honest, I can think of better things to spend £90 on.
This is something I was unsure if I was going to include in this post, but if I wanted to help anyone and be totally honest, I knew that I had to. Before I go on, I want to say that I’m not saying medication is the answer to everything, and I’m also not saying they’re right for everyone. I didn’t just immediately start taking prescription drugs, I suffered with anxiety for a very long time, and tried multiple other methods, and it got to the point where I was on the brink of a full mental break down. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do, and my therapist spoke to me about how antidepressants and therapy can go hand in hand and work well together. She advised me that where my anxiety had got so severe, she thought I was also suffering with depression alongside it, and to see my GP.
I was against this for a while; I worried about getting hooked on them and never being able to come off of them, about the stigma around people who take antidepressants, and multiple other things.
Then I pretty much had the worst evening of my life, I was hysterical and at a complete low, I thought I was never going to be happy again and never going to get out of this vicious cycle. I didn’t want to go out or do anything anymore, I had reached a total brick wall in my life and didn’t know where to turn.
I went to see my GP, and had a break down in her office and explained everything that was going on. I was really embarrassed that I cried, but I realised that GP’s probably have people crying to them every single day, and sometimes when you’ve reached such a low point, you can’t do anything but cry.
She put me on Sertraline, a form of antidepressants. It is used to treat anxiety and depression, and it works by increasing the amounts of serotonin in the brain, which is a natural substance that helps maintain mental balance.
I cannot explain how much these have helped me. I felt a little bit better almost immediately, because I knew that I had something set in place that was going to make me feel better. They take a few weeks to properly start working, but once those few weeks passed, I felt like a different person. I was no longer randomly crying, feeling low and depressed, feeling anxious about every little thing. I felt so much more positive and excited for life, and more in control and logical.
No, my anxiety hasn’t fully gone, and I will continue taking them for at least six months to a year. But, they have picked me up when I felt like I was in the worst possible place, and I’m so thankful for that.
Please don’t think that I’m promoting antidepressants and saying that they’re the right option for everyone; everyone is different, and it just so happens that these were what worked for me. I am still going to my therapy sessions alongside medication, and will continue to do so. I’m also reading multiple different books to help anxiety, and give you a more positive outlook on life.
I feel I owe everyone this post, as so many of you were so lovely and supportive when I voiced via Twitter how much I was struggling, and I wanted to help anyone who is going through the same thing.
I hope you all enjoyed this post, and if I’ve helped even one person with this, it’s been worth it.
Anxiety doesn’t define us, and it never will. There are better things ahead of us than our minds can possibly imagine.
All my love BGP xx