I guess I have always been a little bit of a worrier, always making things bigger than they actually are, obsessing over what I’ve said or done or getting upset over the smallest thing. But to be honest I didn’t even realise what it was until I went to university. I mean university was a huge turning point in my life. Given that at 14, I felt I was failing at life, didn’t want to be in school, had been pretty badly bullied and had pretty much given up on all hopes of being able to pursue any sort of career. I had wanted to be a vet or a doctor when I was younger but I had come to realise that these were unattainable for me.
I finally set on a degree in Biology which was suited to me at a nice university. I felt that my life was beginning properly and I could finally achieve what I wanted from life. However, instead my brain was filled with worry and it was controlling me rather than me controlling it. It had been a massive adjustment going to university and I realised that when I had my first major anxiety episode in the middle of a lecture. My whole body went into some sort of freak out and I couldn’t move or breathe. All I kinda remember is my lecturer stopping the lecture to ask me what was wrong and him escorting me to student support office. I sat there for a while and she made me feel calm, though I do remember her saying:
“I mean there are other ways to get out of a health and safety lecture” (this was a joke, she was joking!). It made me feel better because it made my laugh.
The people in student support have gone onto support me throughout my university experience, I mean I honestly cannot thank them enough. They are the best. Some of my lecturers totally got it and were also hugely supportive. However, even though I felt better… it never really went away and it sort of continued. I eventually got told by a medical professional that I was suffering from anxiety.
I think that Dyslexia can cause anxiety. Now that I understand it better, I can look back over my life and understand why I did things in certain ways and why I felt certain ways. Reading aloud and having to do presentations can be sometimes be the main triggers for people who have dyslexia and anxiety. But also writing, spelling, maths and organisation can also be triggers but you just might not be so obvious.
I have five handy tips for easing anxiety which I feel we need now more than ever given the current times with COVID-19. These may not help everyone, but they’re things that I do to make myself feel better.
- Accept that some days are going to be easier than others; sometimes you’re able to take on the world and some days you’re not and that’s ok.
- Art can be very therapeutic for those suffering from anxiety – even if you can’t draw, doodling or painting random shapes or lines can really help to relieve things a bit. The adult colouring books are also a god send.
- Certain apps such as calm, headspace, chill pill and smiling mind are all good for mediation and mindfulness. It doesn’t work for everyone, I still find it a bit wishy washy sometimes but it can be beneficial.
- Getting outside! Fresh air and nature can do wonders for your mental health. It might be kinda difficult to get out at the moment, but just make sure you’re taking your daily exercise allowance.
- Turn your worries into worry cards. Start with the worry at the top and then underneath write how it was either tackled or how you resolved the worry. If you’re having that same worry you can go back and look at that card and see how you fixed it.
I am not going to tell you by doing all this things that your anxiety is going to magically go away but it may help to make you feel a bit better. I often use the worry tree to try and tackle my worries.
Remember that talking to friends and family about what’s going on may make you feel better, but I understand that sometimes that isn’t always possible. If you feel unable to do this, then your GP is also a good person to talk to – they’ll be able to signpost you to all the right help. Also another scary option I know but you may feel better.
And finally just remember that you’re not alone, there are thousands of people out there that feel this way and you shouldn’t be ashamed of feeling like this.
Just a reminder that the Scottish Government launched a mental health programme last week. It’s called ‘Clear Your Head‘.