Phone Anxiety

One of my MOST annoying anxieties has to be my phone anxiety. It drives me up the wall and it’s something that I feel like I have absolutely no control over! I hate it, it’s so silly and the fact that it exists infuriates me.

I cannot for the life of me make a phone call. Well, I mean I can, but my head doesn’t like it and my body seems to have a meltdown. I have never been a confident person and therefore I put my unwillingness to make phone calls down to that for many many years. I’d find any excuse not to make a call and my mum would always do it for me. As a 13 year old, I thought it was just normal to not make phone calls yourself. I mean, who actually enjoys making phone calls, right? I only started to recognise that it was a problem when I was 16 and crying my eyes out and nearly puking in the toilet all because my mum refused to call the doctors for me. That’s when I became aware that it wasn’t just nerves, it wasn’t just a dislike for phone calls, it was a full on panic attack at the fear of the unknown. That’s what it’s been put down to, the fear of the unknown. My counsellor said that the fear of not knowing who i’m talking to, what questions are going to be asked, whether I will be able to communicate with the individual clearly or not were all signs suggesting that it’s the unknown that I was terrified of. It made sense when it was explained to me like that, but it didn’t fix it. I still remained terrified and I still really do struggle to make a phone call. It proved incredibly difficult to seek professional help when I wouldn’t make the necessary phone calls and would only communicate via email. I’m much better when it’s with people I know, but when I am unaware of who is going to be on the other end I still shut down. People don’t tend to understand it and it would make the whole situation a lot worse. When you have people making comments such as “you’re never going to cope when you move out if you can’t even make a simple phone call”, it tends to make you feel incredibly pathetic. ((It’s important to know that the last thing you are is pathetic)). I don’t blame anyone for not understanding as I get that anxiety can be difficult to comprehend if you haven’t experienced it. I understand that it looks like I just can’t be bothered or that I’m being lazy but it’s really not that. Trying to explain to someone that something so easy to them is so difficult for me can be difficult at the best of times. People are understanding it more now, but I think that’s because anxiety is understood a lot more as a mental health issue rather than just ‘being nervous’ about something.

I took such a big step today and called an insurance company to insure my car. It’s such a small thing, a phone call that so many people wouldn’t batter an eyelid over. Not me, it’s taken me 3 days to finally make the call. 3 days of stressing about a phone call that only I could make. 3 days of going over and over what I’m going to say, making notes and writing out a script to ensure that I don’t mess up. 3 very mentally exhausting days for a phone call that would only last 15 minutes. I finally made the call about an hour ago and it went fine. That’s the thing, it was absolutely fine. There were no problems with miscommunication, I fully understood what was being said and the lady was absolutely lovely. This is almost always the case with every phone call that I get worked up about yet my brain still won’t put two and two together and I still completely clam up when it comes to making another call. It’s something I’m really trying to work on, because at the age of 21 I really do not want to be avoiding making phone calls. I know that it will be ok, I know that nothing terrible will ever happen yet it’s like someone flicks a switch in my head that triggers a sudden uncontrollable panic. I’ve been given ways to help control this panic and I’m slowly getting there but I think phone calls will always be something that I am never completely ok with. Making notes prior to a phone call is definitely something I recommend to anyone that may struggle in similar ways to me. It makes you feel more prepared and eases that anxiety. It doesn’t make it vanish as you’ll never feel completely prepared but it definitely helps.

I’ve come to terms with my anxiety and it’s unpredictability, however I can not and will not allow it to take over my day to day life. I have to remind myself that things will be ok, and if they aren’t, what’s the worst that can happen? Someone who I will never speak to again will think I’m a bit of a muppet over the phone? Who cares, they’ll forget about the call by tomorrow. That’s what I have to keep telling myself.

I guess this blog post is just trying to highlight anxiety in all it’s glory. The little things that it makes you feel and the way it can get in your head and make simple things so difficult. People experience their anxieties in different ways and so shouldn’t be judged when it rears it’s ugly head over the ‘smallest things’. Something that is simple to you could feel like the end of the world to someone else. I’m proud of myself for making that phone call today, really proud. I managed to fight off all those thoughts and make the call and that’s such an accomplishment for me. I’m hoping to hold onto this feeling so that when the next phone call comes around I’m prepared and ready to make it.

Em x

 

 

Advertisements

Time To Talk 2018

So, here in the UK we have a dedicated “Time To Talk” day, which is today! This day takes place on the first Thursday of every February in order to raise awareness of mental health and to encourage people to talk. This campaign was first introduced in 2014 and over the years has become more well known. It’s talked about in schools, on social media and within work places to encourage those with or without mental health disorders to speak out and talk about those ‘tricky’ topics we tend to avoid.

This is such a huge step in battling the stigma attached to mental illnesses and it allows the whole nation to come together and talk about all things mental health. As I’ve logged on to social media today I have seen so many posts about it, it’s all over my Twitter feed, my Facebook timeline and a simple search on google brings up thousands of results. I find it amazing seeing so many people offer their support to those suffering and I wish that these sorts of days existed when I was struggling to speak out. It just goes to show that slowly but surely, we are tackling mental health stigma and more and more people are acknowledging its existence.

This kind of campaign aims to help those that are afraid to speak out by showing them that they are not alone and that people do care. It’s so important to talk about the things you are going through, whether its with a family member, a colleague, a healthcare professional or a friend. There are always people that are willing to listen and help! It’s super scary making that step, but society is slowly becoming more accepting and people very rarely react the way you’re scared that they will. I hated it, talking about how I was feeling was my biggest fear, it made me feel so vulnerable. I now know that actually I was more vulnerable alone than after I reached out and got the help I needed. I have some amazing people in my life that I can talk to when I need to and it’s a huge weight lifted off of my chest. I was so scared that people wouldn’t understand or that they wouldn’t want to be close to me anymore but I was completely wrong. They help me in so many ways and I am forever grateful for their presence in my life.

I really couldn’t put any more emphasis on speaking out and making that step towards helping yourself. Campaigns such as Time To Talk really do give you that motivation to let your guard down and speak freely about your emotions without judgement. If you don’t know how to say how you feel or you don’t know where to turn, speak to someone on an online forum or chat. They have some of the most wonderful advice and you’re able to remain completely anonymous. There are so many options out there so it’s important to do what’s best for you. You just have to remember that running away or hiding from your illness will never be the answer.

This website goes into so much detail about the Time To Talk campaign and also offers plenty of information surrounding mental health disorders in general – it is definitely worth a look! Whether you’re from the UK or not, this campaign is for everyone and the more people that are aware of it the better!

Em x

 

21st!!

So, it’s my birthday!!

I haven’t blogged in a good few days because things have been kind of hectic and I just haven’t had the time. Those of you that read my previous posts, I was supposed to be spending my birthday in Finland. Plans have changed and personal problems have lead to me and my partner having to cancel our trip. It’s a bit of a bummer as we were both so excited, but things happen and we just have to move on.

So I’m not doing anything major today. I know it’s my 21st and I’ve tried to get myself excited for it but I’m just not. There’s something about birthdays that just don’t sit right with me. I love celebrating other people’s, but when it comes to mine I’d rather just spend the day in bed and not see anyone. I hate the attention and nothing makes my stomach drop more than the thought of being sung to in front of large amounts of people. It sounds so petty but I literally hate it, I always have. I go bright red and get so embarrassed and I hate all of the attention.

Although I don’t like birthdays, I’m trying to be positive today. I’m spending the day with Kieran, lounging about and doing nothing then my parents are picking me up later so we can go for a meal. That’s the perfect kind of birthday for me, a small family meal with no fuss. Just good food and lots of laughs!

This is kind of a rushed post to let you all know that I am still here, just very busy at the minute and I’ll try and get back to blogging as soon as I find the time!!

Em x

Finland

In just over a weeks time me and my boyfriend will be jetting off to Finland!!! I’m literally so excited, words can’t even to begin to explain it! I’ve always wanted to travel and see new things and so this trip is a big step for me. It’s something completely new and I don’t quite know how my brain is going to cope with it, but i’m hoping that it’ll be such an incredibly positive experience.

I’m incredibly lucky that i’m travelling with my boyfriend as he studied at a Finnish university for a couple of years and therefore he knows what he’s doing in the country. Knowing that i’m with someone that will be in a familiar surrounding is very reassuring for me. It’s settled any pre-holiday nerves that i’m having in regards to the airport, the people and the location. I’m absolutely no good when it comes to languages, so I think this kind of trip would be horrendous for me if I was travelling alone. Small things such as needing help with directions or just needing help in general would be an absolute living nightmare!

Although i’m more excited than nervous now, things might change when we get to the airport. I hate everything about airports, from frantically looking for my passport every 2 seconds to panicking that i’m going to be stopped at security, even though they have no reason to stop me. They stress me beyond belief and they are always the worst part of any adventure. This always kinda sucks because it makes me feel like i’m starting my holiday on a low rather than a high. I’ve come to kind of just accept airports now and i’m coping with things much better now than I ever have so I really think this journey will be ok!

We arrive in Helsinki on the 22nd of January and get straight onto a train to Tampere. Tampere looks beautiful and it’s where Kieran (the bf) studied. It’s roughly a 1.5 hour train journey from Helsinki airport and is the third largest city in Finland. The featured image i’ve used for this blog post just shows how beautiful it is and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. Going to a place that was such a big part of Kieran’s life means so much to me and I’m so excited to meet all of his friends that still live there. He has told me so many stories about Finland and his friends that i’m just so excited to finally put faces to names. They sound like genuinely lovely people and i’m hoping that i’m able to be myself rather than going into my shell! Going into my shell and not being very social is something i’m very panicky about and it’s the one thing i’m really hoping won’t happen. I hope i’m able to overcome all of that and get on with everyone!

It’s also my 21st birthday on the 24th of January, so it’ll be super cool to spend it away! I’m such a family girl and it’ll be the first birthday i’ve had where i’ve not been in the same country as my family, which is so weird! However, I don’t think I can imagine a better way to spend my birthday, especially my 21st!! It’s definitely going to be a birthday/trip that I will always remember. I will definitely be writing a blog post all about it when I return!

Em x

Know your illness

For me, the most important thing I could do was know my illness. I hate not being in control, the thought of no control sends me into a crazy spiral of mixed emotions and it never ends well. The only way I could help myself understand what was going on inside my head was to do my research.

During high school, I completely went about this the wrong way. I’d set up a private Tumblr account which my friends had access to and I used that as a blog. I would sit for hours and hours on end reading through other people’s blogs, however I never went through anything positive. I never looked at people who were seeking help, I would continuously look for justification that I could feel the way I did without having to seek any help from anyone. This was so unhealthy, and in fact I think it made me worse. Im not saying that this is bad for everyone, but there were so many triggers that I couldn’t help but read and get caught up in. This was my way of coping at the time and now it just angers and embarrasses me that I ever went down that path.

I studied Health and Social Care at a-level and i’ve never been more appreciative of a subject in my whole life. The course was 50/50, half coursework and half exam, and luckily for me one of the main coursework topics was mental health. I never picked this subject thinking that it would help me mentally, I picked it because it really interested me and I loved the amount of coursework involved. In order to achieve the grades I wanted, I had to put as much effort that was humanly possible into my coursework as I tend to flop when it comes to exams. This was a god send when it came to the mental health topic. I knew about mental health and I thought I was quite educated in the area, however this course taught me that there is ALWAYS something new to learn. I done hours upon hours of research into different mental illnesses, the way mental health is portrayed in the media, the nature vs nurture debate and it really helped me admit that I may have a mental illness. I’d written essays about anxiety, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, bulimia and I felt like my brain was going to explode. I’d obtained all this new information and some if it just felt so familiar, some of it just really hit home. I educated myself on all of the charities that were available and what their services could provide, which was very useful information a couple of years later. I got my coursework handed in and I didn’t really think twice about it, but it’s all still up in that little brain of mine. One statistic that will never leave me is that an average of 6 million people living in the UK have an anxiety disorder, 6 million! It just goes to show that you are never alone, and there are always people out there that have felt the way you feel and they are more than happy to help.

The information I learnt enabled me to be more open minded towards others and mainly helped me understand that it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to have bad days and its ok to get anxious. What’s not ok is when you deal with it in unhealthy ways and keep it hidden until you break. Get as much help as early on as you can! It wont fix you, it will never go away, but it sure as hell provides you with much better ways of coping. 

The two websites that really helped me when I was getting to know my illness were both mind and the NHS. I understand that these are both UK based charities, however i’m sure other countries offer a similar equivalent. If not, there are plenty of useful sites on google that are full of helpful information, don’t be afraid to look around!

Know your illness and take back control!

Em x

The Beginning

I’ve always been the type of person that is far better at explaining themselves through words on a screen rather than face to face, which is why i’ve decided to start writing a blog. This blog is nothing serious and the decision to set it up is solely based on the fact that I feel as though it will be beneficial for my mental health. I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s a big step and I have absolutely no idea where to start! I should probably start with my name, which is Emma, I grew up in Norfolk and i’ve been battling with my mental health for several years now.

My earliest memory of myself struggling with anything regarding mental health was when I was 11 years old. I was being prepared for High School and something about that just didn’t feel right for me. The thought of going to a bigger school with a much larger group of people and not knowing where I would fit in absolutely terrified me. The butterflies that I was feeling in my stomach weren’t the average butterflies and I just could not understand what was going on. My sleeping pattern changed, as did my eating habits and I didn’t know how to explain this feeling to anyone, so I didn’t. That was the first of many, many mistakes i’ve made in regards to my mental health. I was 11 and not realising that all these feelings weren’t just your usual ‘starting a new school’ nerves, it was anxiety and I had no clue how much this mental illness would impact the years to come.

Throughout my years at high school, I tried to brush it off but there was always something there in the back of my mind that I just could not put my finger on. As my years at high school went by I became so incredibly self conscious. I hated the way I looked, from the way my hair would never sit right to how big and broad my shoulders were. I began to criticise every little thing about me to a point where I would make notes of things each day when I got home. “Today you wore a jumper that was too big and it made you look huge” “Your hair doesn’t look right like that, you should dye it” “You stumbled on your words when talking and you made yourself look stupid” “You went red when the teacher asked you to read, wear make up to cover it next time”. This then just became a habit, which I didn’t think twice about. I never thought it was unhealthy and I never thought I had a mental illness. I had completely managed to convince myself that this was a normal way to act and that I don’t need to change this. Things started to change when close friends started to notice all these things happening. They would try and help but I would continuously push them away. Like I said, I was convinced that nothing was wrong and that everyone feels like that at times, and so I continuously rejected help. When I slowly started to realise that there might actually be a problem, it was one of the hardest things i’ve ever had to admit. The worst part of it was that I didn’t just have to admit it to myself, but I had to admit it to those that i’d pushed away.

Even though I finally admitted to myself that nothing I was feeling was right and that it couldn’t be brushed aside, I still really struggled telling anyone. I just became withdrawn and stopped talking about how I was feeling. I’d self harmed before in High School, but now i’d gone to sixth form and things escalated very quickly. The self harming was worse than it had ever been, i’d stopped eating proper meals and I would not talk to anyone about it. I felt so much pressure to look good, to be smart and to be loved that I didn’t look after myself and it soon became obvious to those around me that I just was not coping. I look back on my time at sixth form now and I absolutely hate how I acted. I would take off mid lesson, shout at people that cared, get drunk at lunch, disappear for hours and it was all because I felt like nobody cared or because I felt like I was going to fail and therefore shouldn’t waste my time on trying. I would be hysterically crying and begging my college not to go to my parents regularly. I can tell you now that people did care, and I didn’t fail, I done very well considering what was going on in my mind.

Once i’d achieved my a-levels, I started to feel slightly better about myself. I still hated the way I looked and was still conscious of how others viewed me, but I no longer felt any pressure. I wasn’t going to uni and I was loving the job that I was in, and therefore I decided that I didn’t ever need to see a health care professional. I told myself that things were better, it must’ve just been something I was going through and that other people need the help way more than I do. I had no idea that all the feelings i’d previously had could come flooding back at any time because i’d pushed them so far back that I forgot they were even there.

I left sixth form in 2015, and finally went to my GP about my health in 2017. Since leaving sixth form many things had happened. I was still working at Bewilderwood (my first ever job) and had become supervisor, I had passed my driving test, I’d also had my first ever car crash, and I met one of my best friends who very quickly became my boyfriend. We got on like a house on fire and he could make me laugh for hours. Our relationship was full on from the start, we spent all of our free time together, and I couldn’t of been happier to do so. He was the first person that got to properly know me and i’d never been that close to anyone before. He cared for me and loved me like no one else has and it’s him that helped me realise that I couldn’t fight this battle alone. He was the best thing that had ever happened to me, so when my mental health started to impact our relationship I only had one option. In the beginning, it felt like I was being forced to seek help and I hated that. I wanted to be in control, I wanted to fix things by myself, so to have someone so close to me tell me that they thought I should seek professional help, it was a very hard pill to swallow. I swallowed that pill and my pride and took myself to the GP, in which I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was prescribed anti-depressants for the mean time whilst I waited for a CBT referral. I was lucky enough to receive my CBT very quickly, but was told by my therapist that he believed CBT wasn’t what I needed. I was then put on the waiting list for counselling, which I personally much preferred and felt much more comfortable with. My counsellor was lovely and I didn’t realise how much easier it would be to speak to someone completely neutral, it upset me that I hadn’t done it sooner.

I had finally taken that step of seeking professional help, a step that I should’ve taken many years ago. It has helped me massively and I really want to encourage everyone to go get that help. I know how hard it is but it is beyond worth it. No, it doesn’t go away. It’s a year later and I still have my bad days, but there are a hell of a lot less of them and they are much easier to manage.

So i’ve rambled as per usual but that’s me up to speed with everything! I can’t put any more emphasis on the fact that mental health is serious, and should be treated like any other illness. Never be afraid to speak out and get the help that you well and truly deserve!

Em x