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Facing your mental health issues

Finally I have started therapy again which was delayed due to covid. I have discussed in previous blogs how my journey with anxiety has affected me and what I have learnt along the way. But really the truth is when you are dealing with a mental health issue the learning never stops. You think you reach a stage of comfort and safety and life may throw you another curve ball that you then have to adapt to. It is not enough to simply view yourself as a completed work of art there is always room for more growth and lessons to learn. The NHS are quite good in the sense that you can self refer to receive therapy and this means you don’t have to go and face a doctor to explain what you are going through. They have questionnaires that are designed to measure your level of depression and anxiety. If you are unsure of what you are feeling, completing one of those may help in identifying what the problem is or how it affects you the most.

At the start of the year I had begun my journey of self reflection to admit that my recently relapse with weed had affected me more than I cared to admit at the time. You can read about this experience in one of my previous blog posts. I had recognised that my behaviour as changed and now was the time to implement a fail safe measure. Let’s call this stage 2 in self care. (I will explain the stages below)

Over the years of suffering with anxiety I have developed a warming system let’s call it. To use as an indicator of my mental health, a quick way to self diagnose what level of support or intervention I need at that particular time. And to jot it down would look something like this:


Stage 1: Day to day anxiety or a particular situation

This would usually be in the form of a bad day or maybe doing something that triggers my anxiety. When I begin to feel anxious I know I have a toolbox of mechanisms that I can use at that time to minimise my anxiety and my reaction towards it. This includes:

⁃ Breathing exercises

⁃ Meditation

⁃ Listening to music

⁃ Singing out loud (this typically will take me around 3 songs to begin to feel more relaxed)

⁃ Going to sleep

⁃ Discussing my feelings with someone close to me

Stage 2: The point when I notice that my behaviour has/is changing in general

This could include avoiding a specific task or activity, becoming more withdrawn with people close to me or suffering with multiple reoccurring periods of anxiety on a regular basis. I like to think of stage 2 as a stage of growth and being proactive.

⁃ Discuss my feelings and/or behaviour with close friends of family

⁃ Reassess any life changes or events that is contributing towards this change in behaviour

⁃ Maybe seeking outside support or guidance

Stage 3- Full withdrawal and breakdown of mental clarity

I have only reached this stage a few times and if I ignore stage 1 and 2 then it will progress into a full scale withdrawal. This is categorised with withdrawal from all things I enjoy doing, spending time with people, interest in doing anything apart from sleep. This stage will begin to affect my work and may result in me calling in sick a lot or getting signed off from work. And as I said this has only happened a few times and it is not a happy place to be in. I would compare it to depression but not as bad because I still hold some control over my behaviour and hold the ability to change my reality. I feel that depression is more uncontrollable for people.

⁃ Therapy again is always beneficial and there are many forms available

⁃ Some people benefit from medication and don’t feel like you should be judged if this is the path you choose to follow

⁃ Accessing support from those who know you the most. It is often these people that can recognise some of your triggers or unhealthy behaviour

These are just some of the stages I follow for myself but these can be broken down into more stages if you feel that the decline in your mental health goes through more steps.


Mental health issues are often hard to cope with and also provide support for as it is an invisible illness. It can rob you of everything if you allow it too and sometimes you aren’t even in control until it is too late and you find yourself picking up the pieces that was your former life. Just remember though, more people have experienced some form of mental health issue over their life time and in this generation of millennials and even the generations younger than us, sooo many young people are now dealing with anxiety and depression every single day. I really do believe that prevention is better than the cure so the best advice I can give is to practice self care when you can. Exercising, eating healthy, going to bed at a reasonable time all contribute to a healthy mind. Even small things like getting out of bed and making the bed then opening your curtains can set your day down a positive pathway rather than one with a cloud over it. If you have any other tips or suggestions of how to manage or prevent mental health issues from ruining your life then drop a comment to be shared for other people.

I have included some links below that can help you to access support:

http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/NHS%20psychological%20therapies%20services%20(IAPT),%20including%20cognitive%20behavioural%20therapy%20(CBT)/LocationSearch/10008

https://www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help/using-this-tool/

Tips for everyday living | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

Tips for supporting someone with anxiety – Anxiety UK

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Mental Barriers: Health Anxiety

1 in 4

will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England

39.9%

people receive treatment

6 in 100

people suffer with general anxiety disorder

Mental prison

I have lost count on the amount of times that I am absolutely convinced that I have an incurable disease or some illness. And today is no different I read just one line of an article on social media and now my focus has switched to that illness. Speaking to people, a lot of people will laugh it off and make light of your paranoia regarding your health but it really is not a laughing matter. Going through this experience can be very isolating and crippling mentally. You end up living in a permanent state of panic which becomes a deep underlying fear that affects every aspect of your life. 

I decided to start writing about my experience with anxiety as it can be quite therapeutic during the worst times when my mind is in overdrive and my thoughts unraveling. Once I finish an article, I tend to feel quite relieved and a bit calmer to carry on with the day. Yet saying that, I don’t have the answer for the best approach in dealing with health anxiety specifically as I have yet to master it. But I’ll give you some examples of the types of statements that go through my mind: 

  • Oh I’m extra thirsty today, does this mean I’m ill. 
  • That feels like a headache, that’s odd I don’t usually get headaches. Could it be a bleed on the brain or something else. 
  • Is that a lump, mole, skin cancer etc 
  • WHAT IS NORMAL!!!! 

You hear these kinds horror stories that happen to a friend of a friend. Or some freak health story that you read in the news or social media. These stories are the ones that stay etched into your brain like a mental stain. You can always jump to the worst-case scenario whenever a physical symptom pops up. 

Now I have entered a new phase of my life, going through pregnancy. This should be a happy joyous time in my life but often I just feel overwhelmed with the weight of the worry on my shoulder. It’s one thing worrying about myself but to worry about the health of my child is a nightmare. I do sit and wonder, do other women go through this level of fear. I’m 21 weeks now and this morning I was awake at 5am reading health pages regarding your baby’s movements and when to track them. On this occasion, my google exploration did provide me with some comfort. Once I had read enough information to rationalise my thoughts and convince myself that there was nothing out of the ordinary happening I was able to close down the tab and go back to sleep. Which raises the question, does google help or is it a trigger point? 

In my experience, googling symptoms can sometimes help and more times put the fear of god into you. But I have yet to figure out what is a good replacement without having a registered GP on speed dial to talk me through my symptoms. Many anxiety disorders are very similar to the behaviour you often see in OCD sufferers. You develop repetitive behavioural patterns which can keep you trapped in a box and it is these repeat actions that only feed into your anxiety more as it takes away your control. This is the prison that you are stuck within. 

I have often spoken about my experience with CBT therapy and meditation. Luckily for me I have grown to be able to recognise my triggers and understand when I am in a high state of anxiety which allows me to put strategies in place to reduce my stress and anxiety levels. But at times I fail to put these strategies into action and end up suffering for longer than necessary. I always recommend mediation to people as I feel the positive affirmations helps to build confidence within yourself and to maintain a constant state of calm. At my most stressful times I will try: 

Meditation before bedtime 

This helps to offload the worries that I carry throughout the day. I am able to pull them from me like rubbish and dispose of them for that day and I have found that I always sleep better if I meditate before bed. It’s a great support for insomnia (however pregnancy has derailed that lol) 

Mediation in the morning 

This can really help to protect your own mental space as you get up ready to attack the day. Especially if you are about to do something that you know is a difficult task. I work with children so I often meditate to ensure that I can save my energy for myself. And draw on extra positive energy to feed into my students. This way I can leave school at the end of the day without feeling drained of all emotional energy. 

A healthy bedtime routine 

Preparing for bedtime and having a daily routine is something that drastically changed my experience with insomnia. However, this is something that I am not currently doing so I’m not surprised my anxiety levels have been increasing as my sleep has been quite bad recently. 

Exercise 

Now I know that leisure facilities have been closed throughout the lock down and this has affected my level of exercise as I find it hard to motivate myself at home. I did start lock down getting the yoga mat out every day, doing a little bit of yoga or a live class on Instagram but that quickly failed lol. When I am training in the gym, my mood for the rest of the day is just great. You can really feel the endorphins release as the day progresses and this really does help to manage my anxiety on a longer basis. 

This specific form of anxiety can be relentless and tiring but you are not alone in your struggles, there are more of us than you think!

What are some of the techniques you use to help you through this nightmare? Or how have you been able to overcome this issue? Drop a comment below