What is anxiety (to me)?

Anxiety is asking mum before going to sleep if everything is going to be alright.

Anxiety is the stomach pain and the nausea.

Anxiety is the rage I feel inside.

Anxiety is the disappointment that I have to live with every day.

Anxiety is the past that never was and the future that might never be.

Anxiety is my inner critic.

Anxiety is thinking of everything that could go wrong and nothing that could go right.

Anxiety is googling symptoms.

Anxiety is visiting tons of doctors.

Anxiety is feeling like a prisoner in my own body.

Anxiety is being afraid to let yourself be happy.

Anxiety is overthinking.

Anxiety is feeling like a burden.

Anxiety is avoiding social events.

Anxiety is thinking a month in advance about how you are going to get through a single occasion.

Anxiety is never leaving the house without pills in my purse.

Anxiety is trying to be prepared for every single scenario.

Anxiety is the panic I feel at home, on the tube, on a plane.

Anxiety is something you feel like you cannot escape. Ever.

Anxiety is beating yourself up for suffering from anxiety.

Anxiety is needing constant reassurance, safety and security.

Anxiety makes you mad.

Anxiety is everything and nothing.

Anxiety is just that.

Anxiety seems strong, but actually is weak.

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A new chapter of my life

Friends 🙂 I have been having so many thoughts in my head recently and I wanted to share them all with you, but I am not even sure where to begin…

So… you know about my struggles with unemployment. Two and a half years ago when it all started, all the rejections made me lose faith in myself completely, made me fall into this overdrive of stress and emotions and ultimately led to my total mental breakdown. Now I know that this mental breakdown was inevitable because of all the emotions I had locked in ever since I was a kid. But still, the one thing that led to all of this happening was the unemployment.

Logically this word itself started bearing this awful meaning and feeling that came with it. As you can imagine it was pretty tough finding the strength to go back into the job market and hope for the best. I did find the strength though two months ago – I went to the career events, filled in the job applications, prepared CV and cover letters, went to the interviews, wrote the emails. To be honest, it was all a very unpleasant experience, but made me see things much more clearly than ever before.

Two years ago every rejection made me think “I am not good enough”, “I am not confident enough”, “Nobody likes me and nobody will ever want to work with me”. Basically, I fell in this depth of self-pity where the problem was always with me. Well, I cannot say that there are not any problems with me, but there is a huge problem with the hiring procedures and the job market itself. There is an abundance of qualified people higher than ever before and there are a lot of people who fear those that seem too creative and untamable and simply do not hire them. The application forms mostly have not changed in the past 20 years, the same goes for the interview questions. The whole system is outdated and totally ill-prepared for the new generations. Those procedures might have been hugely successful with previous generations, but they definitely do not bring the best out of millennials.

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Of course that there is a problem with the candidates – nobody is perfect, but there is a much bigger problem with the whole hiring system. And before you start shaming yourself and dissecting everything that you did wrong, think for a second about everything else that is wrong.

This same thing has happened for decades to a lot of now extremely successful people. Lots of the time great talent remain unnoticed for a very long time partly due to the fact that those extraordinarily gifted people has preceded their time. The world was not quite ready for what they were about to create so they ignored it. They could not understand it at the time.

“(Walt) Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star in 1919 because, his editor said, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

While a junior fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, (Anna) Wintour did lots of shoots, but apparently Tony Mazalla thought they were too edgy, and so she got fired after 9 months. After which she became fashion editor at Viva.

After a performance at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, Elvis (Presley) was told by the concert hall manager that he was better off returning to Memphis and driving trucks (his former career).

It’s hard to believe, but during his lifetime Van Gogh received hardly any acclaim for his work. While alive, he only sold one of his paintings, and that was to a friend for a very small amount of money. Despite this, he continued working throughout his life, never seeing success himself, though his paintings now are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Sourced from the Thought Catalog

“The amazing Oprah Winfrey experienced a very rough and abusive childhood, many career setbacks and a firing from her TV Reporter job because she was “unfit for TV”, all before her unmatched fame.

The woman every Harry Potter fan worships (J.K. Rowling), was nearly penniless, severely depressed, a single mom, a divorcee, and living on welfare before the success of her series. She is now recognized as one of the richest women in the WORLD.

The genius with the crazy hair (Albert Einstein) did not always act as such. He didn’t speak until he was four years old and couldn’t read until the age of seven which caused his parents and teachers to think he was mentally handicapped. (It may have taken him a while to bloom, but I think it was worth the wait!)”

Sourced from the Thought Catalog

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If you are struggling and constantly misunderstood, the chances are you might possess some great talent. You may not be a genius and invent something that changes the world completely. But you have something in you – different, unique, raw potential and talent that you should work on.

I know how easy it is to fall into despair, self-pity and anger when you are constantly misunderstood, different from the crowd and overall the black sheep. I have done it thousand times, but I am now learning that it is so much better to use this energy for something good – to evolve, to learn more about yourself and to constantly search for your own mission in life, for the one thing that will make you truly happy and successful. I have been watching Girlboss on Netflix recently and it is a great example of what I just said. If you have not watched it yet, I thoroughly recommend it.

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I personally wanted to share with you that after so many unsuccessful attempts and after I have finally decided to channel all of this anger into something good, I decided that I am ready to try out as a freelancer. I am not sure if it will be successful or not, but it will be truly my thing and I feel that for the first time in my career, I will have full control to go as far as I want to and achieve as much as I am capable of.

I urge you, my black sheeps, not to let the anger and those feelings of resentment control your life. Do not be afraid to explore. There is something special in you. I know it! You just have to find it.

Thank you, guys!

Lots of love xx

P.S: If you like my content please do not forget to follow and share with your friends. 🙂

The risk of letting yourself feel

It is mental health awareness week and in order to honour this, I decided to write on what actually makes us anxious and depressed. There is not a particular reason that applies to everybody, but I strongly believe that there is a single personality feature that is common among all of us.

We care!

And we care a lot. We care so much about our families and friends, we care about our jobs and doing the best we can, we care about the world, about the environment, about the human race and its survival. We care to the point where we are no longer able to hear about all the problems and all the things that went wrong and we could not do anything about them. We start to overthink and blame ourselves that we are not better, that we cannot help or save more people. Then all of the emotions come along and they are so overwhelming that we suddenly become paralysingly numb.

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Being so caring, empathetic and emotional is a risky business.

By being this type of person I have become so much more compassionate, good person, who somehow knows everyone’s deepest fears and feelings and can talk to them in a way no other can. I am proud of this side of me. It really is an amazing feeling to belong to a small group of people who still have their human gene active and are good to others without expecting anything in return.

But, on the other hand, this has contributed to my anxiety and mental health issues significantly. I feel as if I am not able to escape feeling everyone else’s feelings. Even watching certain movies has become so much more difficult because I cannot escape experiencing their emotions.

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Last week I was talking to my boyfriend about life, but most importantly what differentiates risk-takers from non-risk-takers. Everything in life is a risk and that’s why most people who battle mental health issues have lots of safety behaviours, myself included. Not leaving the house without certain things in your purse, not visiting specific places, avoiding certain people and situations, even coming back to check whether you locked the door are all safety behaviours that we have adopted in order to protect ourselves from the risk of something (bad) possibly happening.

There are so many different types of risks. People who work with money, for example traders, take the risk of possibly losing hundreds of millions every day. And I believe that the reason that they do this is because they believe more in the possibility of earning hundreds of millions.

I myself feel that I have always been such a risk-taker when it comes to emotions. I have always let myself feel everything so very deeply. My words will never be enough to express the magnitude of the emotions that I hold. I do not know if it is a blessing or a curse to be able to feel so deeply, but it is certainly a choice whether to let yourself feel everything or not. I have always let myself feel everything – the sadness, the happiness and everything in between. I have such a strong energy that most people around me somehow pick up the feeling that I am currently experiencing.

A part of the reason why I have always felt everything so deeply is that I was never able to escape it. These feelings are so loud and clear that you cannot avoid them for very long. They will find their way out one way or another.

But the other reason is that I have always wanted to feel everything like that. What is the point of living if you have never experienced great happiness and great sadness? You cannot have one without the other. You either choose to have average feelings, which means not having any major feelings at all or you choose to live life to the fullest and be brave enough when the sad, dark moments come.

I have not yet learned how to deal with the magnitude of my emotions fully, I have a couple of ideas and tricks which I use for my overall anxiety and plan on sharing in the coming weeks. But one major thing that I believe in and helps me tremendously is my faith in a higher power, named God, that I believe always look after us and even when we are faced with major difficulties, there is not anything given to us that we cannot cope with. Sometimes we may feel as if we cannot, but deep in my heart I always know that I can survive this somehow.

You should know this too. Do not be afraid to feel. You have the power in you to survive!

I believe in you all.

Lots of love xx

When life has your back ;)

Oh God, how much I hate banks and all of those other super corporate and conservative companies and industries that do not care about anything but the dollar bill.

However, this was not always the case. I used to dream of working in a place like this. I used to wear this super formal attire that you normally see people in banks wearing and wonder why I did not feel ok in it. I used to think that being successful could only mean working in one of those empires and earning a lot of cash.

I tried to get those prestigious graduate jobs, I got to the final round of interviews realising “This is not for me. I do not feel ok here.” And the panic attack followed naturally. But still I could not realise what was wrong, I thought that I am still just a kid and when I eventually grow up I will learn how to live like this, how to enjoy this world and those kind of jobs where working in marketing means being pure evil. I could not see anything wrong in wanting to get those jobs and suffered very badly when I eventually did not get them.

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Now I thank God that I did not get those jobs. Strangely, but I truly feel now that this was luck, not lack of such. I can see my friends and classmates working in such places and I can see how profoundly unhappy they are. I look at them and I feel so grateful that I am not one of them. I can see how them having the opportunity to do this job, actually left them without any opportunities. I can see how stuck they are and how they feel as if they will have to lead this unhappy life forever. They could never take a leap of faith and follow their dreams, because they never had the chance to realize what exactly their dreams are. They are too worried for financial stability that they do not think that they can achieve it any other way than working 9-5. I feel sad for them and I feel sad for all the other people that are like them, living life like robots.

I could have been one of them. I dreamt of being one of them. I cried that I was not like them.

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Now I realize that I did all of this because I wanted so badly to fit in. I used to hate my individuality, my creativity and the fact that I was always the odd one. Those traits made me feel left out on numerous occasions. I was and still am very different from any given group of people, I could never fit in. So I had to lie my way around, to pretend that I am normal and eventually get a lot of friends. Those friends were never real friends (except my best friend forever) because they never knew me, they never knew the real me, they did not have much to love. I never gave them a chance to get to know me and decide if they really like me or not, because I was too afraid of rejection. I used to think it was better to be average than to be no one.

This lie that I lived in grew so much that it affected all parts of my life, including my career. All of those completely ridiculous ambitions to work at those kind of companies were totally at odds with who I really am. I could have never learnt to like this type of work and life. I could have only grown up to be miserable, unhappy robot-like soulless human being.

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Ever since I was a kid, I knew that this life ‘study so that you can get into university, get into university so that you can get a good job, get a job so that you have the financial means to start a family… and so on’ just is not for me. But wanting to fit in so badly, I ignored all my gut feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in education – it is paramount for our evolution, I think that financial stability is also incredibly important in the world we live in. It is just that our society has turned everything upside down. Education is important but not so that you have high grades and get a good job. Education is important because it teaches you how to think out of the box, how to be a problem-solver, how to survive. And the most valuable education is not the one we get at school, it is the self-education that is really important. In the past three years, I have learned more about work and life than I have learned in the 15 years that I spent at various formal educational institutions.

And there are many different things that you can earn a living from other than going to work every day. Working full time is the most straightforward way, but definitely not the only one. Nowadays you can earn money from practically anything. You just have to be creative enough to find different opportunities and turn them into cash. I do not say that every new idea is going to be an overnight success and you will become a millionaire in no time. Quite the opposite. You may have to fail many times before finding any success. But that’s the beauty of it all – failing, learning, improving and eventually succeeding.

Don’t give up! Don’t be afraid to be who you are! It is better to be no one than to be average.

Search, search… for your purpose in life. Live a happy, healthy life. Listen to your gut and take care of yourself.

Always.

Thank you, guys. :))

Lots of love xx

Birthdays..

I have not been posting much in the past couple of weeks… I am sorry about this, guys, I just could not find my words. I have been having pretty rough time in regards to my mental health and I could not find any inspiration in anything.

I am still pretty much feeling like that; however, I did just browse through a gift that I received 3 years ago for my birthday and the inspiration struck me.

With my birthday fast approaching in a couple of days’ time, I feel so emotional. Birthdays have always been tough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, it is just that with my insecurity, I am always worried that nobody will remember and the day won’t be anything special at all. I have always felt that birthdays are like some sort of a test when you discover who actually cares for you and who does not. That’s why, I put so much pressure on those days and often end up disappointed.

However, there have been a few of those birthdays that were really exceptional and unforgettable when I felt showered with love and quite special overall. On one of those birthdays I received this very special gift that I was just browsing – a photobook including my closest friends at the time (around 20 people) giving description of me and sharing memories and wishes. It was really a very special and sentimental gift to treasure for many years to come.

A lot has changed for those 3 years and considering that my confidence and self-esteem is at its all-time low, I thought it would not be such a bad idea to read some kind words of people that were, once, very close to my heart. Among all the jokes and the fun memories, I could recognise a few main words that all people were using, trying to describe me or how they see me in the future. The most common words for my description were ambitious, smart and very positive (phrases that were used the most were ‘constantly smiling’, ‘the girl with the widest smile’, ‘eternal smile’). And the most common thing they all said regarding my future was ‘successful’ (few people even used ‘successful without a doubt’).

Reading this now left me with mixed feelings – I am happy, of course, that people saw me this way. But then again seeing the word ‘successful’ used so much for me, made me feel quite bad. They all thought that I will be successful in a couple of years’ time, yet, here we are three years later and I am nowhere close to what I always thought successful means. How could so many people be wrong? Am I so deceiving in my own portrayal?!

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The fact that all of them thought that I was constantly calm, positive and smiling made me think of this famous thought that the girls with the biggest smiles usually hurt the most inside. This couldn’t really be any truer!

I have had friends over the years, but I have always been such an introvert. I could not be open and honest about my feelings even to my mother, to whom I have always been very close. No one knew about my battles and my struggles, and the pain I was feeling inside every day for lots of years. I was always wearing this pretty smile and everything was always just fine.

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Then, when everything fell apart and my smile started to fade, I was not so much fun to be around to anymore and I have lost touch with most of my once very close friends. That’s when I started letting people in on my struggles, pain and problems and this helped me tremendously with my mental health.

But then again so much has changed that I am not even sure who I am anymore and who I should be. I feel like I am on some sort of a crossroad on my way to personal rediscovery and change and I have to decide on the person that I got to be and the battles that I want to fight.

Have you ever felt like that on your personal journeys? I will be glad to hear your stories and advice as I feel quite lost right now.

Thank you, guys!

Lots of love xx

November 2014

Me sharing with you last week one of the most painful periods in my life – the world of unemployment which led to my severe mental breakdown – was quite tough for me. I am still not over the bitterness of it all and writing and thinking about it was a hard thing for me to do, but it is actually one of the things that made me who I am today. So I felt it was quite important to share it with you in order for you to get to know me and my story better. And most importantly for you to understand that nothing is as bad as we think and there is some good in all bad.

So understandably when I found a piece I wrote in November 2014 describing exactly how I was feeling at the time, I knew that I have to share it with you, guys.

Here it is… I hope you enjoy it and if unemployed at the time, find some comfort in it that you are not alone.


It is a rainy, foggy afternoon in late November in the city of London and the miserable weather outside awakens the dark side of me. You know, the one that always points out the bad things, the failures, the problems, the weak sides of your character and as a whole makes you feel bad about yourself.

I graduated from university a couple of months ago, back in the summer, with extremely high grades and extremely high hopes, everyone at university loved me and congratulated me on my big achievement and I assumed that everyone else will love me too. I knew that it will be hard, I knew that what future holds is not always flowers and smiles, especially after I had already had experienced certain parts of the real life and the awfully difficult task to find your dream job, but I never imagined that it will get so complicated and so hard. I had the hope that everything will work out in the end, better sooner than later.

However, things did not go exactly as planned, things got messy and here I am now. I will spare you the details of me applying to numerous jobs, never getting the one that I dream about and as a whole the world of unemployment that we all have experienced in some part of our lives.

It is not so much the lack of employment itself, it is more the feelings that come with it. It is the deadlines that you set for yourself that you simply can’t meet. It is the networking attempts that lead to dead ends. It is the moment you think to yourself that you can’t handle another rejection letter, but you have no other choice. The moment when your friends start working and start living their real life and you are still stuck somewhere in the middle between university and adult life. The moment when you think ‘what is wrong with me?!’. The moment when you live in one of the world’s greatest cities, which is full of different people and you travel on the train finding the astonishing difference between businessmen and lower middle class workers and thinking where is my place in all of this. Will I ever find my place?!

Don’t get me wrong… I know what I want to do with my life, I have pretty straightforward goals, I know what I love doing and what I want to work, but when you are in the middle of your personal nowhere, never knowing what will happen, you just feel lost in the crowd, not knowing how to find your place.

I am a fighter, I always get back up and I always find a way to keep going until I reach my goal, but in this moment of despair, I definitely have my ups and downs.

Maybe everything happens for a reason, maybe everything is a test and maybe just maybe eventually everyone get their happy ending.


Loving yourself

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Once I decided to try and get better, I did not know where to start or what to do about my mental health. I knew that my only option was to follow my gut and see where it takes me. Interestingly enough, everything and everyone was pointing me to the direction of self-love.

I do not think that I was ever capable of loving myself. Growing up, I was selfish with my possessions and jealous of everyone around my mum and I thought that this meant that I love myself a lot. Well… actually later I realised that it did not mean that, it just meant that I am insecure.

I have never been kind to myself – pushing myself beyond my limits every single day never listening to my body or souls’ needs. I have never accepted myself as I am – I was always striving to be someone else, to identify with something or someone better. I have never been able to gift myself with the pleasure of relaxing, without feeling guilty for wasting my time, or the pleasure of celebrating without an actual accomplishment, celebrating just the fact that I am alive. I have never been able to enjoy life for the simple things – walk in the park or on the beach, the smell of the flowers, the delicious food, the loving touch of those close to my heart, the beauty of traveling.

I have never accepted my feelings and emotions – I was constantly trying to bottle them up, to forget about them with a drink, a cigarette or a party, thinking that not paying attention to them will make them go away. In order to escape my own demons over the years I became the queen of distraction – reading, watching movies, listening to music, having tons of friends to go out with, having boyfriend after boyfriend without much of a break in between, going to ton of extracurricular activities, learning, learning, constantly learning everything I could think of that I found even slightly interesting. I was so busy with people and things that I did not have much time to let the demons out of the box. Nevertheless, I may not have paid attention to them, but they were still there – alive and well, trying to find their way out, making cracks in the bottle and escaping little by little through them.

I have lived like that for a long, long time before and after my anxiety and panic attacks started, until one day a couple of years ago my boyfriend and I packed our bags and moved from Manchester (where we studied at university) to London, where my boyfriend was about to start a new job. We both wanted to move to London, we were both applying for jobs in London the whole summer after finishing university and he found his dream job so we finally moved. We even found our dream apartment in a very nice neighbourhood and we were over the moon full with excitement and what seemed at the time infinite possibilities. I was sure I will find my dream job too pretty soon – after all I was already in London, where there is an opportunity at every corner.

Finding the dream job was the most important thing in the world for me at the time, my whole universe revolved around this. I cannot stress enough how important this was for me, because I have always worked very hard in order to be able to work whatever and wherever I wanted, I envisioned myself as a very successful person from the beginning of my career, I wanted to be able to rely on myself financially and to make my family proud. I was so sure this will happen that I could not even think of a different scenario – there was not anything else in the world, except this.

So you could probably imagine how I was feeling when none of this perfect little scenario ever happened… actually I do not know if you could imagine, because even for me, having experienced my world shattered into pieces and all the emotions afterwards, it all feels so surreal, almost like a very, very bad nightmare. Unfortunately, it was not just a bad dream. We moved to London two and a half years ago and I still have not found my dream job.

Looking back now I can see that I was pretty consistent – I applied for jobs every single day for around 9 months without losing hope. I have lost count of the applications I submitted but I am pretty sure that there are couple of hundred of them. It felt like the universe was just making fun of me, like everyone was making fun of me for being so stubborn and trying for so long only to find my head crashing into wall after wall.

However, probably the worst of all was having so much time on my hands – this has never ever happened to me before, as I told you above I used to be constantly busy. Then I found myself one day in London, where I did not know anyone, I did not have any friends or family here, I did not have school or work to go to, I did not have any money to sign up for some classes or something, I had to constantly rely on my parents or my boyfriend to give me money even to go buy food. I am very grateful for their financial support in my quest to find my place under the sun and for not having to work as a waitress, which would have been a total disaster as I am unable to bring a single bowl of soup to the table without spilling it, let alone a couple of them. But still having to ask for money constantly and permission to buy whatever is very, very hard thing for me to get used to. Even after all this time I still feel very uncomfortable doing so.

So I found myself in the beautiful city of London without any purpose in life with all the time in the world on my hands. This was all that my bottled feelings were dreaming of – having the opportunity to make even bigger cracks and start to resurface without any place for my mind to run to. I still watched every movie or TV series that was even slightly interesting, I studied a lot about marketing, which I want to work in, I applied for jobs, but there was far too much time I could not fill with anything. Time in which my demons caught up with me.

Fast forward 6 more months and we find ourselves at the moment when I received the most painful job rejection of them all. Rejection I could not live with because it finally made me feel hopeless. It made me realise that this dream of finding the perfect job and living happily ever after just was not meant to be for me at this point. This was also the time I last applied for a job for a very long time.

This was the time I was seriously contemplating suicide and was feeling so, so bad – panic attack after panic attack – I could not eat, sleep or do anything for days. With time, the symptoms subsided a little bit, but still I did not have any reason to live. My main reason for living – working and being successful was gone. I was desperately looking for something to hold on to so that I do not drawn in my own despair and take my life. I think this is the moment that the survival instinct kicks in, because my perspective started to shift a little bit by itself, trying desperately to find anything to give me a reason to live. And so it did – for the first time in my life, I have found a reason to live in the people around me. I started feeling so grateful for having a mother and a boyfriend that are there for me in all cases and under any circumstances. And I decided that they deserve to be my reason for living and for fighting. They still are my main reason for living, although with time I have found a couple of others too.

But I was about to find the most important reason of them all – loving myself.

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I am still no expert at loving myself, but I try very hard to learn how to do it.

I have not given up on my dream to find the perfect job, I have worked towards this a lot even though I was not applying for jobs. I just realised that I had to postpone it for a little bit while I learn how to take care of myself first. And that’s okay.

I have been feeling resentful for so long for the bad things in my life that actually made me the person I am today. But then one day I decided to look for the good in the bad, for the lessons, for the mind-opening experiences that just show you that life is not always what we think it should be, for the joy of overcoming them, for the fact that those moments actually bring you closer to your truer self, to your soul and to the balance in your life.

My mental health story

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Around this time 5 years ago I first experienced a panic attack and ever since then I have lived with a constant anxiety almost every day for no apparent reason. I do not want to get into details right now about what provoked this first ever panic attack but looking back now I can see how one day everything was fine, I was just my normal self and then the next day I woke up and everything was completely different. Little did I know that from this moment on this would be my new reality.

During those first days and even months I felt completely lost and disoriented – I did not know what was going on with me, I was feeling these heart palpitations, stomach ache, nausea, fatigue constantly and I was going crazy trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I started developing these defence mechanisms that almost all anxiety sufferers use – paying close attention to my body and all of its symptoms, trying to find the illness behind them, searching for information constantly on Google, visiting numerous doctors and doing tons of tests and not being happy with the result that shows no actual physical illnesses. After a dozen of doctors told me that there was not anything physically wrong with me, I felt even more desperate because I started thinking that it must be something really serious and hard to find – I was feeling awful every day and this could not be happening without a reason. This, in turn, made me dig even deeper onto the Web for information – I have read so many medical journals over the years that I certainly feel like I could practice as a GP without any problems – after all even my family and friends started turning to me for basic medical information. The years have passed and this obsession became stronger and stronger – I was constantly researching symptoms on Google, I could not leave the house without carrying a dozen of different pills in my bag and so on. I believe that the picture is quite clear and you get it now.

So much time has passed and no one could find what was wrong with me. I was totally desperate and thought that I will be living like that for the rest of my life.

During all this time the last thing that crossed my mind was that I was actually suffering from a mental problem. With years my mother and my boyfriend started to realise that I was having mental issues, not physical ones and pointed this out to me a few times but I was just laughing at them and told them that it was not possible.

And why did I think that it was not possible? – Because of mental health stigma!

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Lots of people think that mental health problems such as anxiety, panic attacks and depression does not really exist, that it is just stress and you must be tough and deal with it, that if you suffer from something like this you are just weak and unable to deal with everyday problems, that you won’t be able to achieve anything in life. Basically that you are weak and incapable of dealing with your own life.

And who wants to feel weak? – Nobody.

The same applied to me – in my head I was so strong and so capable. How dare someone tell me that I am weak and that I am suffering from an anxiety disorder?!

It took me a long, long time – 4 years – to realise that they were right and that I was actually suffering from a mental health problem and that did not mean that I am weak and incapable.

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I was just part of this breed of people that are more emotional, more creative, that see the world differently and have a kind heart that cannot tolerate injustice. And although I was trying to change this part of me for a very long time, eventually I did realise that this was not necessarily a bad thing, that thanks to my emotional spirit I was able to experience life more fully, to be more compassionate and understanding, to know better what is best for me and so much more.

But due to the society that we live in and mental health stigma, I have lost 4 years of my youth suffering and obsessing over something that was quite clear. This resulted in health anxiety and hypochondria on top of my anxiety disorder, in the development of a lot of safety behaviours which became habits and overall made the things much worse. Although I have spent the past year trying to get better, I still can’t shake my health anxiety and can’t change a lot of my safety behaviours.

The longer you wait to get help – the harder it gets to get better.

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I am sure that there are a lot of people out there who have experienced the same and this made me wonder why in this day and age mental health is still neglected so much worldwide. In the developed world every 4th person is affected by some mental health problem throughout their lifetime. This is around 25% of the population in countries such as UK and USA and still a handful of people take this seriously. The NHS (in the UK) and the media bombard us every day with tons of information on how to recognise the signs of cancer, diabetes and other serious diseases that affect lots of people. But nobody tells you how to recognise the signs of mental health disorders. Having (physical) health assessments and screenings and tests is the norm in the developed world in order to prevent and treat effectively various diseases. But having a mental evaluation means that you are crazy.

I can see how lots of people still talk about mental health as if it is something dirty that should be hidden in the closet and prefer to make it seem like something crazy, because God forbid somebody knowing that they are actually suffering from something like that. The other bunch of people do not ever talk about it for the same reasons.

I myself have not had the courage to tell many people about my issues because I fear the look on their faces, the judgement in their eyes and the way they will be thinking of me afterwards. There are people I have shared my issues with who were not judgemental, but did not really understand what that meant and started just telling me to relax and not to care so much and everything will be ok, which we all know is not of much help because we are not suffering solely from stress.

Unfortunately, this comes to show that the world we live in is not educated at all about mental health. One of the main reasons to start this blog again was to spread awareness about mental health, because this is what our world needs right now!

We should learn to understand mental health better, to recognise the symptoms early on and to be more compassionate at home, at work, at schools, at social gatherings and so on. Everyone could fall and break their leg the same way everyone could ‘fall’ and suffer from a panic attack and anxiety disorder. No one has a guarantee that it won’t happen to them so please bear this in mind the next time you feel empathetic for the person with the broken leg, but not for the one with the broken mind.

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Guide on surviving emotional breakdowns

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Today is especially rough day… one of those days that I see an escape only in death and as the panic makes my heart hurt I am praying to God to make my heart stop beating and put me out of my misery… just to make it all go away. I have never feared death, I fear the pain, the agony and the suffering you experience while alive. And I know it is not all bad, but some days I just find it incredibly hard to see the good. And I have learned that I don’t need to even try to find the good in those days and the harder I try to fight it, the worse I feel.

One incredibly important part of recovering from a mental illness is letting yourself feel all the misery, feel all the sadness, all the pain …just let it all out and get it out of your system. Every now and then my nervous system gets too fed up with bad experiences and emotions and I just wake up one day, sometimes two, three, four days… whatever is necessary and I just can’t function, I get into this cycle of panic after panic, feeling hopeless and crying all the time. I hate those days, I just feel so awful, so drained, so tired both physically and mentally. But then after the storm I wake up one day and feel much better, I have found new strength and new energy to start the fight all over again. I perceive this as some sort of emotional detox. As we all know our bodies need to detox from time to time and in most cases we feel awful from the side effects. The same applies to our mind and nervous system – they put us into this nervous breakdown while clearing up all the bad stuff.

Everyone experiences nervous breakdowns at some point of their lives. Unfortunately, this happens much more often to people suffering from mental illness, because they have much more emotional build-up to clear than regular people. While ultimately it is a good thing for the sufferer, it can put a lot of pressure on our loved ones. They start to feel bad because they are not able to be of much help in such situations and they feel as if they are doing everything wrong.

So the next paragraph goes out to all the people who are close to someone suffering from anxiety, panic or depression and are a bit unsure on what to do in cases of panic attacks and/or nervous breakdowns (of course everyone is different and not all my points will apply to your loved ones but I hope to give you at least some starting points):

  1. I believe that all mental illness sufferers will agree that the most important thing to feel comfortable around somebody is to feel understood. Of course, for someone who has not experienced mental illnesses first-hand and is not a trained professional can be a bit hard to understand all the irrational thoughts, all the adrenaline and cortisol rushing through your body and what sometimes seems as giving up. But the first thing to understand is that your loved one is not giving up in front of their monster, they are fighting this monster every day and sometimes they just get a bit tired and all the hormones and thoughts fill up their bodies and they go into panic. That is completely normal, that does not mean that the hell broke loose (although it may seem like it) and that does not mean that they have given up entirely. They are just taking a break to flush their system. I know that you want the best for your beloved ones and that you are trying to make everything better but there is not much that you could do at this point. By trying to make everything better and pushing them to be optimistic and not to fall into self-despair, you might actually make things worse, because despite of all the good intentions, they will feel like they are not accepted and loved as they are and that they need to be stronger or better in order for you to love them. I know that you never had this intention, but this is the way it works with mental illness sufferers.

Having said that this sort of nervous breakdowns are completely normal, please bear in mind that it is normal for a few days, but if it is becoming months and more, the condition might have worsened into severe Depression or something else and further medical evaluation might be needed.

  1. The second point that I want to make is that on this type of days the motivational and positive talk and talking as a whole is actually making me feel worse (this is the way it works for me, I will be interested to know how it is for you fellow sufferers in the comments down below). There are certain moments when talking is extremely beneficial for me, but on this sort of events I need more to feel somewhat safe. That might be due to the fact that most of the time I get into these huge continuous panic attacks because my fears seem really strong and large and as if they will definitely come true and I don’t feel like anyone could tell me something that will make the fears go away. But I do feel that I need to feel safe, for example having someone by my side who is just hugging me or taking care of me – giving me napkins for my tears or trying to find something funny to make me laugh. I do believe that it is really important to have someone to prepare you hot, nutritious meal and to make you a cup of tea (peppermint is my favourite because it settles the stomach and the nerves), because all of these emotions and crying can really tire you off and make you feel sick. Having someone there always helps. I know it is hard, but just look at these periods as if you have the flu and just need someone to help you get better.
  2. As I have already said, there is not much to be done to make things better so here is my last advice. I have heard from a lot of anxiety sufferers and I do feel it myself that some pampering always helps to make panic attacks sufferers feel better. Massaging their shoulders, head or feet always helps a lot the body to naturally produce some serotonin and other happy hormones. You could also try to prepare them a bubble bath with stress-relieving essential oils (for example lavender) or light up candles and turn on some stress-relieving music. I know that at those days, they don’t actually feel like doing anything or going anywhere, but you might try to persuade them to go for a short walk in the park or book a pampering day at the spa centre. Whatever you do, try to think of some stress-relieving activities without much people and noise, because they will make them feel much worse.

Mental illnesses put a lot of pressure on both the sufferer and their loved ones. In many cases, having a loved one to support you is one of the main reasons for a person with a mental illness to try to get better and to fight the illness and its symptoms tirelessly every day. Unfortunately, such problems many times put a great toll on relationships and make them fall apart. That is because if you choose to be next to someone battling anxiety, panic attacks or depression you have to be prepared to fight alongside them almost every day. I know it is tiring and it is hard but I hope that it will be worth it in the end when those mental problems are put in the past.

Wish you the greatest of luck in battling those problems and symptoms and please share down below other opinions/tips you have on the topic.