Let’s Talk Anxiety

TW: Anxiety, Depression

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a couple of months. From the title, I’m sure you can guess why. Anxiety has been something that has gnawed at me for years, but I’m really coming to terms with it only recently within the year. I’m working on being more open about it and that is why I’m wanting to share this post with you.

I feel like I’ve always been an anxious person. It mostly started with being worried about grades, schooling, and friendships. This has evolved as I’ve grown, with concerns about finances, residency, and where I want to go/where I am in life.

Last summer, while being stuck in university accommodation, I felt like I really hit a new low of anxiety consuming my life. I now believe I was suffering from depression during this time. When deadlines were approaching, it felt so bleak being stuck in my studio apartment. Not being able to go to the library or work on campus, stifled my motivation and confidence in my work. The pandemic also made my flight home for Easter cancelled, leaving me to wonder the next time I would see my family. I had only one friend down the hall from me, but she was struggling as much as me. My grandfather died and I was left wondering what would happen to this world.

When I wasn’t focused on schoolwork, I could barely get myself to eat and spent most of my days sleeping or reading. I cried so often over the phone to Peter (my boyfriend, now husband), wondering when I would be able to see him again. My hair was falling out. My skin was acting weird. I lost about 10 pounds during that time.

I was miserable.

Then, some restrictions were lifted and Peter could come pick me up. I brought most of my stuff with me, leaving just some bigger things behind to be moved out later. I felt things starting to get brighter now that I was moving down to London.

There was the inevitable stress of finishing up my final project and trying to look for jobs. In August, my cat, Bubbles, had to be put down. If I were back at university, that would’ve wrecked me. I am so thankful that I could be around Peter when I heard the news. I hadn’t cried that hard in years.

After getting engaged, then came the anxiety of figuring out residency, the wedding, and all that jazz. I was a ball of nervous energy, barely getting any sleep. I had fought with the idea of seeking out help, but finally decided to get some help when I heard there was an option for self-referral therapy.

In January of this year, I soon started a 4-week group session called Overcoming Worry. My main worries were (and still presently are) focused around my visa and money. The group sessions helped in some ways, but I still felt stuck.

I only recently got the courage to contact a local counseling service (that was referred to me by the group facilitator). I’m on a long waiting list, but I’m ready to work through some things.

So what do I want you, the reader, to take out of this?

I want you to know that it’s okay to ask for help when you’re struggling with emotions and anxiety. I have good days and bad days, just like you. I have to battle with my head every day, but with getting some help, I can learn to control my anxiety symptoms.

I’ve found that deep breathing helps me and focusing my mind on mindless tasks. When my mind wanders at night, I count my breathing to help calm me. If I’m worried on a specific thing, I remind myself to focus on it later in the day. Most of the time, I forget to go back to the worry.

I’m hoping that my story can, in some way, help end the stigma towards mental health. This is only the beginning of a long journey ahead of me.

I’m not perfect and that’s okay.

xx Hannah

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