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Never let Mental illness stand in your way.
Posted by Heather
2nd Jan 2014

When Sane UK asked me to write a blog article I did jump at the chance, thinking if I can at least help one person with my personal account of suffering mental illness, then it’s worth it. Believe me there is light at the end of the tunnel never give-up.

I would say 2013 has been a very good year for me. I decided to be more open about the Anxiety Disorder I suffer with and adapt a completely unconventional approach to fighting back. I started writing a blog, even posted a few videos on my you tube channel documenting my progress. At the start of 2013 I set myself a few goals and one was to control my anxiety issues.
I throw myself into the challenge whole heartily and now your looking at a weekly radio show presenter for community radio Online.

As I write and share my personal experience of anxiety and depression with you all, I find myself reflecting on the journey I have been on to reach this point.
The many ups and downs I have encountered along the way.

As long as I can remember I have always been shy perhaps a little reserved.
While growing up and especially in my teenage years I always felt awaked and uneasy about everything, my friends were very sociable and liked the clubbing scene, I would find ways to avoid meeting up.
At sixteen I venture into the world of catering and hospitality.
I suppose I felt restricted and confused by my choices of a career path. I didn’t exactly have a whole heap of GCSE’s to fall back on and so I bluffed my way through. Then that’s when I really started to notice the anxiety taking hold.

There was no one I could exactly turn to for support, after all I was scared what my family and friends world think. One of my biggest fears was to fail and let everyone down. Some nights I would lay awake fretting about the following day at college, while other times I would obsessive thoughts and find myself touching light switches an even amount of time, just so I could rid myself of this awful feeling something may happen. By the next morning I would be shattered and unable to concentration.
Deep-down I knew I would never be able to sustain the pace of being a great chef and still I couldn’t admit it to myself at the time.

Avoidance became my coping mechanism and over time I started to meet up less with my close friends. I would get anxious over the smallest things possible. In 2005 my parents relocated to Lincolnshire and I decided to move with them. It felt like it might be the fresh start I needed. However my problems with anxiety just followed me.
I had so many dreams and ambitions of the path I wanted to take and yet I couldn’t because I was trapped in a haze of heighten fear and panic.

Suddenly in December 2011 Things came to ahead, one of the darkest days of my life so far. At the time I had a physical illness. One morning I woke-up all alone at home, my heart was racing, I couldn’t breath I started having intrusive thoughts I was convinced I was going to die. I made an appointment with my GP and he diagnosed me with a Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

There wasn’t one single thing that tipped me over the edge, there were many factors.
The past eighteen months were awful; There were ongoing family problems and there wasn’t a single day I wasn’t anxious I was on edge 24/7.
Even the smallest things crept up on me seeing my friends progressing happily through life without a care in the world. Settling down, while my free spirited friends were enjoying holidaying in nice tropical places.
It dawned on me all the great stuff I had missed out on. Time that I will never get back. I even wanted to go back to college to do an Access Course, however finding work to fit around college would prove difficult. It was almost like every time I dared to hope another door would slam shut on me.
I felt hopeless, afraid and completely emotional drained by life.

By hitting rock bottom allowed me to take stock of the situation. I decided to adopt a few methods one was to forget about the past and focus of the here and now. Secondly from now on I would tackle every new situation with a step by step approach. At the time my therapist suggested I maintained a daily activity sheet, scoring my moods and making changes to my routine. Which helped me to see I never actually had little time to myself. As time went on I started volunteering as a retail assistant for St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice one morning a week. Which really helped me to get out meeting people again. And finally last summer I joined a community radio project, in ingoldmells called; Lindsey Online. As soon as I sat down discussing the stations aims, I knew straight away I wanted to be part of the station. It was really strange feeling, I actually felt myself brain storming ways to help them just sitting there and speaking to the station owner. It did relight something inside of me. Passion and my flare for organising. To be honest in the first time in my life I actually hit the ground running and was so enthusiastic to learn everything.

I started sitting in co-presenting shows at the station for a few months, before undergoing training. The biggest challenge I faced was building up my confidence again and believe in myself. Finally Christmas Day 2013 my own radio show Lindsey at Large went out online across the internet. A week before I was sat in the studio pre recording the show, I remember feeling so nervous that my words kept getting mixed up. As time went on I started to improve. The New Years Day so was no doubt one of my best shows so far. Hopefully things will continue to go well.

I still suffer with anxiety, it’s always there in the background, some days are better then others. There has been times when I have been emotional and unable to do much.
But one thing I do have is good experiences to counter argue the negative thoughts that creep in. I am grateful for the support I’ve had with the radio show and the encouragement from people I haven’t even meet writing on you tube and the face book like page. That’s what really keeps me going.
Your more then welcome to listen in to me chatting away most Wednesday evenings between 4-6pm http://www.lindseyonline.org.uk/ it’s a bit of local news mixed in with great tunes too. More information can be found on a like page my sister created for me https://www.facebook.com/Heather.03
I hope my own experiences with an Anxiety Disorder helps you.

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