As today (Thursday 7th February) is Time to Talk Day 2019 I thought I would share with you my experiences of anxiety and post-graduate depression. This isn’t something I’ve spoken openly about on my blog before but I have always thought I should, just incase someone reading this is feeling this way too, it gets better – trust me!
I started noticing the signs of anxiety in my final term of university. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the future and that put great strain on me. Growing up doing lots of plays and performing I had never, honestly, suffered with nerves. But I started noticing that the things I would usually get excited for, I started getting nervous about. I found myself panicking about situations that I could not control. I remember my graduation day, I wanted it to be perfect but my family turned up late and it sent me into a panic. It took my mum a lot of reassurance to get me to sit in that Grand Hall. That being said, when the initial ceremony was over I felt a sigh of relief and enjoyed the rest of the day.
From then on my anxiety snowballed, I started teacher training which put a huge amounts of pressure on me. Every lesson I felt trapped in the classroom and like I was going to throw up, I couldn’t concentrate on teaching because my mind was going crazy ‘what if this’, ‘what if that’. I was unable to block it out and so I’d go home feeling like I’d physically fought a battle with myself that day. I also felt extremely lonely as I’d moved to a new area of the country but had no time or way to go out and make friends due to the pressures of my teacher training course.
One day my Year 9 form had an assembly on mental health. The assembly said that it wanted students to talk and reach out if they were struggling with mental health. It really struck a cord with me as before this moment I’d been struggling for months. I plucked up the courage to tell my teacher training leader that I was not coping. The response I got, I could not believe… tough luck. Any days I’d miss from not being in school I’d have to catch up at the end (a common rule for teacher training) but if I really was struggling I should go to my university for help. Now my teacher training provider never wanted the university to have much of a say in how they ran their course, so I was really surprised that they wanted to pass on what I thought was such an important issue to them. I didn’t go and speak to them, I had no relationship with my uni, and I felt uncomfortable talking to them. The doctor offered to sign me off but I knew it would only pro-long the process so I powered on. It got a little easier as I found coping mechanisms but all-in-all it was the most challenging year of my life.
That was me at my worst, the next academic year was a lot easier. I moved school to a really supportive department, and although I never labelled it or told them about my anxiety they allowed me to feel more comfortable, relaxed and confident in my ability. The panic attacks reduced and I started feeling ‘normal’ or like my old self again.
Now I am in a position where anxiety doesn’t impact my life at the moment. There are certain situations that I like to avoid, like anything where I feel trapped for a long period of time (escape rooms, no thanks). When I was feeling low I thought the cloud would never lift and I’d feel that way forever but I’ve made changes in my life that have helped immensely like changing career and being totally open with my family and close friends. I cannot stress that last part, TALK TO SOMEONE. Someone who you trust. Despite the worst happening for me when I first spoke out, I realised that the people who actually cared about my wellbeing were the best people to reach out to in this situation, and have supported me ever since.
I don’t think I’m unusual in the fact that I’ve had a period of my life (1 year and a half) where I’ve really battled with my mental health. It pleases me that more people are speaking out about mental health and hopefully one day it will just be considered normal.
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