I think it’s important to share our experiences with mental health as I’m sure that at least one person can relate to your story. I have decided to share my mental health journey with the hope of helping at least one person reading – remember, you are never alone.
The start of my journey
From a young age, I can remember being a sensitive child and worrying about situations that not many of my friends would worry about. I’d constantly worry that I’d upset somebody and I’d overthink things most of the time – this definitely affected my daily life, but I just assumed that this was who I was. I felt this way throughout most of my school life; however, it wasn’t until sixth form that I realised that maybe I needed to change my mindset as I began to feel increasingly worse.
The moment I realised
Sixth form was a turning point for me as I realised that I could take steps to improve my worrying and overall mental health. I remember sitting in class one day and feeling very low; I then had to leave the classroom and I just started crying, but the frustrating thing was that I didn’t know why I was feeling this way.
I hadn’t previously spoken to anybody about how I was feeling as I didn’t feel as though my feelings were valid because I didn’t have a specific reason for feeling down – I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this.
After school that day, I decided to speak to my mum about how I was feeling and she suggested that I should seek help for anxiety. At the time, this felt extremely nerve-wracking as I didn’t have a clue about what anxiety was. Despite feeling nervous to go to my GP, I managed to book an appointment and explain to my doctor how I had been feeling – many tears were shed during this appointment.
I felt such a relief after talking to somebody and my GP gave me a number of resources to take home in order to help me change my mindset.
How I felt after seeking help
I found the resources that my doctor gave me extremely helpful – they provided me with information about my symptoms and things finally started to feel clearer to me.
I’d say that my anxiety symptoms reduced massively for about two years after this; however, they began to worsen again throughout university. I started to experience stress while at university – completely understandable – but this caused my anxiety to come back more intensely than ever before. Nevertheless, I felt ok about reaching out for help for a second time as I already had a good understanding of my symptoms and I knew that I could manage them with support.
After referring myself to a talking therapy service, I completed an online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course and I was able to manage my symptoms a lot better. My mental health began to improve – I definitely experienced setbacks but reaching out for help again was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.
Similarly to my first experience, my symptoms calmed down for a period of time, but they began to worsen during my final year of university – again, due to increased stress – so I reached out for help for a third time. I completed a more specific talking therapy centred around obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which was carried out through weekly phone calls. This round of therapy expanded my understanding of the problem and taught me new techniques for coping. Once again, I began to see progress.
Where I'm at now
I completed my third round of talking therapy towards the end of 2019 and I feel as though I have an abundance of tools to help manage my anxiety symptoms. I definitely experience good and bad days – who doesn’t? – but I feel as though I am much more proactive as I constantly try to prioritise my mental health on a daily basis.
I hope that by sharing my mental health journey, it can help somebody reading to kickstart theirs. I understand that the thought of talking to somebody about how you’re feeling is extremely daunting but trust me you will feel better after doing this. Also, remember that there is nothing wrong with asking for help again; some of us may go to the gym and eat well to improve our physical health so why not do what we can to improve our mental health?
Asking for help was the best thing that I’ve ever done. If you’re worried about seeking help, just remember that you’re not alone and you never will be.
Author: Laura, 21
Where to get help
For more information, tips on looking after yourself, and suggestions on where to get support, have a look at our Find Help page.