Firstly, I am so incredibly sorry for being so distant, I’ve been terribly caught up with my A levels and I’ve been having a generally rubbish time. But, I’m now hoping to be getting back to blogging more because it’s what I enjoy, writing. Also, I hope you’re all ok and doing well, I’ve missed hearing about your forever entertaining lives.
So, you’re probably wondering why my title is telling you all to be brave, this won’t directly apply to all of you as such but it’s something we should be aware of and be talking about a lot more these days, and I’m referring to mental illness. This is a huge thing for me to be doing as I suffer myself from anxiety and depression and even admitting that on writing, never mind in person, is terrifying. If any of you went to my friends and said; “Is Amelia despressed ?” They’d not even think about it twice and tell you you’re being ridiculous. Mental illness is a concept people know exists but many don’t like to address it, as there’s so many unnecessary stigmas surrounding it. I find it difficult to explain to friends sometimes and I often don’t as I like to keep it seperate from my friends and not let it overshadow our relationships with eachother. My good friend of 13 years knows the most as she’s very comfortable with this topic herself and we have a good relationship where we have that balance, where we know that we’re there for eachother. Today, for example, one of my other very good friends was speaking to me on FaceTime and I tried mentioning my anxiety and that I was diagnosed with it about a year ago (I didn’t bring up depression, as it’s another topic I feel needs seperate discussion) and he literally just came out with; ‘Ha, no you’re not’ and honestly, this hurt because it’s not the reaction I expected but I suppose I need to give this time as it’s difficult for people to come to terms with sometimes.
So, in this blog, I’m going to explain how anxiety and depression feels for me, as well as explaining how it can be different for everyone. The first time I began feeling anxious was probably when I was 15 years old (I’m now 17) and I remember it vividly as I was sat in an RE lesson and over that time, a lot of things had been happening and generally, over my life, things had been somewhat turbulent. I was sat in this classroom and we were all getting on with silent work and the evening before, I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything as I felt, what I can only describe as, ‘wrong.’ My head was spinning and I couldn’t calm my breathing and I couldn’t bring myself to move off the bed, I felt awful. Eventually, I’d fallen asleep but woke up the next morning feeling similar. I decided to stick it out and went to school where, in the middle of this RE class, I literally just had to stand up and get out of there, I thought I was going to collapse and not because I was around people, it’s literally just the feeling within me and overthinking things. My teacher shouted after me but I had to be alone so I shut myself in a toilet cubicle and had to try so hard to bring my breathing rate down as I thought I may have been sick everywhere. It took a while and I couldn’t bring myself to return to class so I only returned when everyone had left, obviously, my teacher asked what was wrong and I said I felt unwell and that was that really. I let a few weeks pass and the anxiety was there a lot and I didn’t mention it, but I thought to myself one day that I can’t carry on like this, so I spoke to a teacher and they just tried to explain what anxiety was and calmed me down a little. The way anxiety affected me often confused me, as it would hit me at any point of the day and often wasn’t triggered by anything I could understand, it could hit me alone in my room or in a classroom or in the shower or in whilst out shopping. It’d make me feel sick, dizzy, my heart would beat quickly, my breathing wouldn’t be stable, I’d have a feeling of needing to cry but not being able to and as I found out more about anxiety, apparently, as adrenaline is pumped around our bodies during a panic attack, it’s provoked by a fight or flight method. I’m a ‘fighter’ these days and literally just have to sit and try and cope with the attacks but the flight method is where people can literally just take off and get themselves out the situation that could be making them feel anxious. Funnily enough, throughout my time at school, I had to do a lot of public speaking and this was the time I felt least anxious, I still don’t know why. So, for me anxiety follows me around everywhere, it’s not prominent all the time, but it’s just there. I decided to take matters into my own hands and visit my GP (Dr) and explain how I was feeling. She was very kind and decided to put me on propanolol (a beta blocker to calm me down) and refer me to a councellor. I’ve been seeing the councellor for 8 months now and I have 2 more sessions left but recently, have been referred to a councellor at college as I realised I need to talk frequently, as I don’t know how to deal with emotions or where to park them.
Depression is fairly new to me and my Dr and psychiatric assessor both agreed I was depressed but are hesitant to medicate me, which I completely respect and understand as talking and healing is probably the best way forward for me. Depression only really started to creep in just as I began to start college, I wasn’t sure whether it was just because of the work or what, it was confusing to me as I really couldn’t bring myself to do anything and really started caving in on myself and not talking as much as things felt insignificant to others and I was feeling so terrible and honestly, just so depressed. I couldn’t bring myself to shower some days and on the weekend or holidays wouldn’t move from my bed, only if I had to. Depressions scary to me, because whilst you’re sat with friends and they’re laughing or you’re in what should be a happy environment, you have this heavy feeling, a constructive feeling looming over you and it hurts, it physically causes pain inside you and for me, is worse at home in my room alone but I can’t bring myself to go downstairs because I want to be alone but I don’t like being lonely, if that makes any sense ? It’s still so hard for me to deal with as it’s this massive cocktail of emotions in my head and depression isn’t just feeling ‘sad’ and people don’t always physically show their symptoms and I can’t explain how it feels properly or why I’m feeling it and that’s what hurts me the most, the fact I can’t explain. I remember having a few phone calls with my non biological aunt (shout out to you if you ever read this, you’re great) and she’d ask what was wrong and I literally just couldn’t say because I don’t know myself, I just had the worst feeling in the world going on. And I did try hard to explain but the only thing I ever wanted to do was to place her in my head so she could understand and that’s impossible, which again, hurt me. These feelings, both the anxiety and depression feelings still happen and I know it’s going to be a while before I can start putting them behind me. The things about this sadness and being wrapped up in yourself, is that it gets a bit too familiar, and in all honesty, the thought of stepping outside of what I’ve become familiar with is terrifying me at the moment but, my councellor said that its ok to feel that, that it’s ok not to want to take this step and you need to be ready to do so, and for now, I need to keep talking about these feelings. I feel like depression is a bit like a blanket, it’s there keeping you warm and you know you need to try and get this blanket off but you’re scared of how cold it’s going to be on the outside, so you just keep putting it off. I’m just struggling with it at the minute and I know I have these great people to talk to and I just hope that’s going to work for me.
I started needing to see the GP again recently to help understand these feelings as I wasn’t dealing with them at all in the right way and still have a tendency to slip into bad habits but I know I’m supported by these people now, so I have the help I need and I hope it’s going to work, as these things don’t disappear overnight.
I mention being brave in my title and that’s still relevant, we have the capabilities to be brave, but breaking down and not being brave is also perfectly acceptable, as this leads people to seek help.
If you feel like you might be suffering from a mental illness, please speak to someone, a parent, family friend, teacher, doctor. Explain how you’re feeling (easier said than done, I know) and don’t feel awkward or embrassed or ashamed about having to see a professional about this, as mental health is so important and you’re not going to be criticised or judged. If you break an arm and go to the doctor, they’re not going to ignore it or say you’re not trying hard enough to get over it, they’re going to take care of it, and that’s how they are obliged to treat you, with full consideration and respect.
I hope you’re all well, I’m going to put some helpline numbers here (UK and US, but there are other numbers for different countries online) just incase anyone needs them.
Rethink Mental Ilness – 03005000927
Young Minds – 08088025544
No Panic- 08449674848
Adolescent Suicide Hotline- 800-621-4000
Adolescent Crisis Intervention and Counselling Nineline- 1-800-233-4050
Panic Disorder Information Hotline- 800-64-PANIC
National Alliance on Mental Illness- 1-800-950- NAMI (6264)
Crisis Hotline- 800-HIT-HOME