Mental Health Awareness Week; Zoella raises awareness about anxiety

Friday, 15 May 2015

It's Mental Health Awareness Week this week, and I thought I'd touch base on anxiety and my experience with it by highlighting an amazing article from Glamour Magazine UK where Zoe Sugg aka Zoella spoke to them about her experience with anxiety.


As I may have mentioned once or twice on here, I have alot in common with Zoe, but one of the main things is unfortunately anxiety. From the moment I first heard Zoe's experiences with anxiety, I immediately related to her and have also learned a few things through her blog and her YouTube channel. This article is great because it helps further raise awareness that anxiety is a severe form of Mental Illness, and it's not something you can easily shrug off.

What anxiety is

"I would describe anxiety as a little part of your brain that refuses to let you do particular things with ease because of the way it's programmed. I also like to say that a person with anxiety is like a car on the street whose alarm gets set off by a little leaf that's fallen from a tree, whereas the people who don't experience anxiety are the cars that the only time their alarm goes off is if someone is breaking into it. It can really debilitate and control the way people live their lives."
I wanted to highlight this because I think that's a perfect analogy of what anxiety is. I hope for those who don't suffer with anxiety or who don't suffer as extremely will read this and get a bit of a better understanding what someone who deals with anxiety on a regular basis goes through.
I first realised I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks when I was 14
"I noticed that I started declining exciting things in the fear of feeling as though I might have these strange symptoms creep up on me like they had been more and more. Anxiety is something I knew absolutely nothing about as a young teenager; in fact mental health was something that had never been on my radar, so for a very long time I was confused.

"I thought that all teenagers must experience these strange feelings as they go through puberty, and when I realised that my friends didn't feel the same way I did, I looked into it more myself. My initial symptoms would happen whenever I felt in a situation where I felt forced, or felt I couldn't leave. My heart would race; I'd feel sick; my breath was short and quick; I felt so hot but shivered with cold and I felt like the room was closing in on me."

I also had my first panic attack at 14, and was suffering with anxiety before that, I just never understood what it was that was wrong with me. I knew I was different. It felt like, and still do at times, that everyone around had a handle on things, and I couldn't and I didn't understand why. You always just chalk it up to being shy because that's what everyone around you calls it. But it's so much more, and I never knew and I was too scared to tell anyone or look into what was wrong with me. Big mistake on my part. I wish I had done things differently, but when you're young, you don't know.
The biggest difficulty is not feeling able to do the things I want to
"The most difficult thing for me having anxiety is feeling like I am not able to do all the things I'd like to do, or that I'm asked to do or take part in. Where I am taking part, there is usually a huge build up in my mind, months and weeks of feeling anxious about it before it takes place, making it even more of a big deal. I also think it's very important to keep trying to do them. So where I have done something that's scary (for me) and managed to get through the day, it feels great. It's important never to give up even when you feel like you can't do things. It's also important not to push yourself too hard that you never want to do anything ever again. Another difficult aspect is when people who don't understand, don't TRY to understand or have no empathy. It can feel very isolating and disheartening."
         There is a myth that people with anxiety should just get over it
"Or that they should pull themselves together or that it's really not that bad. To the person feeling the effects of anxiety, it's very real and can be frustrating, upsetting and scary. If it were as simple as just getting on with things, that's definitely what we would be doing and nobody would have this issue. Anxiety isn't something that people get rid of, it's something that you learn to manage and control. That can take time and patience from the person experiencing it and from people around that person." 
This is the biggest downfall. There's plenty of things that I want to, but my fear and anxiety will keep from doing. I build up certain things too much in mind that it can start to make me feel anxious, and then I won't want to do it. But I agree it's important to try, and I'm trying more lately slowly, one step at a time.

When people don't understand or try to, Zoe's right, it is very isolating and disheartening. When I hear people say to me or to someone I know with anxiety things like "it's all in your mind".."you just need to not think about it and get over it"..etc, it absolutely infuriates and upsets me because people like that clearly don't understand, and don't want to. I'm not saying it's something you need to learn, but if you care about someone who is suffering, trying to understand goes a long way. Understand that the person suffering can't help it, and be sensitive to the things you say and the way you act around them. Because without knowing it, insensitivity towards anxiety can cause an anxious person to feel anxious and like they aren't normal and like they're alone. When really, the opposite is true.

This is a video Zoe bravely uploaded last June when she was daily vlogging, showing her having an anxious day where she was overwhelmed and experiencing self-doubt. Too big factors in anxiety. I remember when I first watched this, I cried because I felt for her, and I've been there many times.

I've inserted these three videos of Zoe's because all three are ones I rewatch whenever I'm feeling particularly anxious and need a reminder I'm not alone. I've post two of these ones before in my Living with Anxiety post I did back in October. But they've really helped me, and I'm hoping they can help others who may not have seen them. Her 'Just Say Yes' is mostly about learning to say yes to things you wouldn't normally in fear of anxiety getting in the way. Something I'm trying to do more and more as of late. (Ignore the NCS bits, unless you live in the UK or Ireland and are of age to sign up because it does sound like an amazing program to be apart of).

Anyways, I hope this has helped further raise awareness of Mental Health, and anxiety. Please read Zoe's article and watch her videos if you want a better understanding of anxiety, whether you suffer with it yourself or you want to learn more about it to help understand someone you know who suffers. 

Thanks for reading!!


1 comment:

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