PEOPLE suffering from anxiety continues to grow, our reporter Niamh Shackleton documents her ongoing struggle with anxiety…

I once read a quote online that said: “Rule your mind, or it will rule you”, which for an anxious person like myself is easier said than done.

When I say ‘anxious’ or ‘anxiety’ I don’t mean in the way Kardashians say it at the drop of a hat like, “It’s giving me anxiety,” – I mean it in the terms of a mental illness that affects 8.2 million people in the UK alone. On a recent poll I did on my Twitter account, of the 40 people who responded, 70 per cent answered yes to the question of “do you have a mental illness yourself, or know someone who does?”

Ok, so imagine two fire detectors next to each other and you simply light a match underneath them. One of the detectors alarm goes off, whilst the other doesn’t – you’d think the alarm that’s going off is faulty, right? That its alarm is going off for the smallest thing? Well, that’s what it’s like for someone with anxiety; their metaphorical anxious alarms will go off at the smallest thing, whilst for many other people it wouldn’t.

Mental Health statistics

To say so many people are affected by mental health issues, anxiety and depression in particular, there’s limited general knowledge on the subject. For me personally, I have general anxiety disorder which is the issue of feeling anxious or worrying all. the. damn. time.  Common symptoms are:

  • restlessness
  • a sense of dread
  • feeling constantly “on edge”
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Physical symptoms are:

  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headaches
  • pins and needles
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep  (insomnia)

So basically, it’s kind of rubbish to have and can often come hand-in-hand with depression due to the low self esteem you feel because of being unable to control what your mind is thinking.

It really sucks being a teenager with anxiety, well it sucks at any age really. I mean, I’m a 19-year-old that has to weigh up the pros and cons of going on a night out because I have to analyse whether it’s worth the anxiety. What if I drink too much and feel ill tomorrow? What if it’s really crowded and I can’t move? What if the club is miles away to get to? What if I have to get a cab on my own because no-one wants to come back with me? What if people judge me for wanting to leave early and not stay out until 4am like real 19-year-old students do? etc. etc. etc. It’s safe to say you can drown in your own thoughts.

Mental health issues don’t have the same kind of recognition the way physical illnesses do. For example; if you saw someone coughing and with a runny nose you’d presume they had a cold and believe them if they said that they did. If I was to turn to someone and say, “I have anxiety” there is no way to prove it therefore it’s difficult to a) diagnose what you have and b) to explain your feelings to people so they believe/understand it.

There’s also more empathy for people with a physical illness because you’ve either experienced it yourself, know someone who has, or know the general unpleasant symptoms of it. Those who do not have a mental illness struggle to understand it, since they’ve probably never experienced it themselves.

An anxiety disorder is a common mental illness defined by feelings of uneasiness, worry and fear. While anxiety occurs for everyone sometimes, a person with an anxiety disorder feels an inappropriate amount of anxiety more often than is reasonable.”

Mental illness’ is a chemical imbalance in the brain, therefore it’s not so easy to cure. Yes there’s medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and counselling, but really it’s all down to will power and taking control. Say you’re scared of heights and you opt to do a sky dive, you’re facing your fears. That’s unfortunately what people with anxiety have to do to battle the dread of a certain, unavoidable, basic, situation to be able to get by in their day-to-day life.

Sadly the NHS is struggling to help people with mental health issues. I had to wait the best part of three to four months for CBT, and when you’re struggling to even sit in a classroom environment and end up rarely attending college due to it, three to four months is a hell of a long wait.

My tips for anyone suffering the above would be to firstly go see your GP. Also, push yourself to do things so you don’t sink into the routine of avoiding bad situations; it’s a slippery slope.

Here’s a corny (but extremely true) quote to end on:

Anxiety quote









By Niamh Shackleton

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