How did I get here?

Several minutes ago my brain was like a school fight. Not that the two halves of my brain were having a row. That would probably hurt. Of course I’m talking metaphorically here people!
 
You know how it is. One minute you’re chatting to your friend the next a swarm of running kids congregate out of no-where – a running and half-hearted jogging heard of sheep that nearly knock those new patent shoes off. How is this any relation to my brain?
 
All these crazed kids are the ideas, thoughts that unfurled around my eyes. A fire that when its centre found, was distinguished as soon as I went to type.
 
So let me claw at those dissipated thoughts. Cut off balloons.
 
How did I get here?
 
Not location. I don’t need Google maps. Mainly because I have hardly moved at all. That’s the point!
I finished Sixth Form Woo! Seriously, woo I could not wait to get my little socially anxious mind away from that place. Or jungle – this would be the time where you see that scene from Mean Girls where they all act like animals around a mall fountain aka the water hole. But, that was several months ago, I don’t particularly want to look at the number because it’s seriously depressing.
 
So this is usually the part where, I would get teary eyed as I said au revoir to the parents and watched them walk away from typically probably 70s dorm room. And complain because my cooking skills go as far as super noodles (not true I love cooking). But, I was always determined not to go down the University route. For me and what I wanted to do, it was too clichéd. If they made an honest sale poster it would say: get wasted all the time, get a degree, end up in a completely different job and don’t forget the big bill we will leave you. It works for some people, but I like to do things differently. **It annoyed me how university was played as the only option. The universities you were applying for a hierarchy that made teacher’s swoon at the student who claimed they were going to the best universities. Other option Apprenticeship, but to strip all the façade basically was suggested if you were ‘less intelligent’. Obviously not true, but those were the connotations.
 
I’m a firm believer that you can’t teach someone how to write (I’m talking novels etc. not primary school literacy). Why? Because if you asked each novelist how they wrote their book they all would have done it differently. It is finding yourself. That and I also had the banner like dream of wanting to start my own business. This particularly baffled most people, that and the idea of not going to uni.
 
So, now it’s now. Each day folds into the other like no school days ever did. Regret has me stuck in a revolving door. I am me, but not me.
 
If society saw me they would say these things that equal failure. You are unemployed. Tragically friendless. You are not at university. You are just doing anything. Mental health issue, what mental health issue? You are perfectly fine, get a job.
 
This is the part I don’t want to say. It is the thing I want to blip when meeting new people. It’s the lip parting question that has my head hanging between blades. What are you doing? This implies job.
 
After some convincing I applied for JSA. Job Seekers Allowance naive as an 18-year-old suffering from social anxiety, basically generalised anxiety and as a result depression. But, I think my parents were trying to give me a nudge into life.
 
DISCLAIMER: This is not one of those weight loss ads that now I’m on this I have lost…duh…duh…duh. So, now you all probably think I’m a Chav that goes to the Jobcentre in tracksuit bottoms and a scrunchie. And that’s exactly what I am talking about. Stereotypes. Not only do I think that it is wrong to brand people in a negative light. Or link a particular image with negative connotations. But, how can I say that to people without being looked down on and the idea of social class rising.
 
As I sat there with my mum to help me with the nerves. My first interview. The Jobcentre lady talking about all the legalities and pointing at a screen. All I could do was make that face. You know the one. You have to press down your lip to stop the seams on your face puckering. It had been all too much. I could taste the tears in my mouth. I wasn’t doing it for me, for my parents.
 
Now I was just cast off as a failure of society. Low ranking. My already present shame deepened in my chest and blossomed into thorns that stab at my heart.
 
For someone who had social anxiety, my signature was signing my life away. Yes, I knew I needed to get a job. Yes, I know it would probably be shit. Yes, I know. Yes, you told me that I can’t just make my living being a writer. Yep, I know I don’t have enough ‘experience’ to run a business.
 
If you have social anxiety you will know how crippling it felt. I had assigned myself a new cage, and I had turned the key. I was going to have to do things I don’t want to do. Assign for everything and anything. My hell. Social anxiety hell.
 
To put kindling in the fiery pit. My anxiety was and is building. The house. Same everyday house was now my world. For days, I can’t say specifically when before all this Jobcentre stuff I could feel the sense of doom that accompanies it. My body was being tortured by anxiety symptoms and I felt like I just couldn’t take it anymore. That the anxiety was going to be the end of me (note feeling not suicidal). I needed. I need help. To then be put on a 4 months perhaps more waiting list to get help. Burn baby burn!

 

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12 Common Misconceptions of Anxiety and Mental Health

 

1. The Fix-it talk

The hey get yourself together, grow up and stop crying and get on with it shebang. Yep you know it, seen it, been in it. Probably have the postcard. Yes the fix-it talk is the steam inducing, heart slopping conversation or rather phrase that sums up the modern view of getting on with it.

It’s the whole prit stick routine. Just, sellotape that piece there and stick that back together there. As good as new… oh apart from the sellotape and the dripping glue seeping from all the cracks. Yep it just looks like one of those Harrod’s things… can you hear the sarcasm? Its like Woody of Toy Story when his arm got ripped. Or a jigsaw puzzle that’s had a few pieces nicked by the dog.

But, seriously people. Even piecing a jigsaw can take time – I’m talking about the ones with the 1000s of pieces here. You need to think where will things fit, where things go. It takes a while before you can really see the big picture.

In these modern fix it or get a new one times. The misconception is that you can snap out of anxiety or depression or other mental health problems, but that is not reality. In fact almost 1 in 5 people feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time.

2. The you are just’s…

You are just… [insert adjective here]shy, pessimistic, sad and the list goes on. 
 
For anxiety it’s that your ‘just’ anxious or ‘just’ shy. This misconception I feel just dismisses mental health, because the phrase itself warrants a flippant response that includes some thrown in lazy hand gesture.
 
I suppose it rubs us up the wrong way, because it lacks empathy or the sympathy we want from others. It almost makes us sound as if our personality asked for a double helping of shyness.
 
The misconception is because, people themselves may have not felt the same way. I suppose the misconception lies between personality and mental health. If you have social anxiety, doesn’t make you shy. It means that you have a fear of social situations. A shy person can be a shy person but not experience the fear and symptoms of social anxiety. They can be accepting of their shyness. If this makes any sense?
 

3. Mental health is a character flaw, a weakness. And like the thespians we are like to act all dramatic. Just for the sake of it!

Mental health is often depicted as the evil villain with the cape in the wind and all. And like all villains we have a big character flaw. The elephant in the room. The misconception is that mental health is a weakness. The other misconception being that we are faking it.
 
But neither of those things are true. Mental health is only seen as a weakness, because it is the unknown for people who haven’t faced it. Sometimes there is a surrealness to mental health and I think that’s what makes others find it hard to believe. Again because it is hushed like a taboo.  
 
Here is another fact for you: 450 million people worldwide have mental health problems. So, I think it is time we take the taboo wall down!
 

4. Innocent till proven guilty.

One doozy of a misconception is that people with anxiety or mental health disorders are all violent or have a flashing sign over our heads saying danger, danger.
 
Quite frankly this is a major over-generalization. Here is for the whhaacha moment… the majority of violent crimes and homicides are committed by people who don’t have mental health issues. And sadly people with mental health are more likely to be a victim of violence and are more of a risk to themselves than other. For more stats click here .
 

5. Somehow that we are chained for life and no-one recovers.

With all the labels knocking about like a ball in a squash court, people presume that no one recovers and are forever chained like a prisoner in a cell to their mental illness. 
 
Wrong. I’m pretty sure if you Google you will find success stories everywhere. Plus the idea of chains is that you can unlock them. It is the job of finding the right key by trying different ones.
 
But that is a crappy assumption. I am true believer that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
 

6. Sudden inability to work or hold down a job.

Lucky for you, I did my homework. I can prove this wrong in a few seconds, just watch.
 
4 in 10 employed people experience anxiety about their work and on top of that stat is, about a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. Take that. Including that we all know it can take years for people to be diagnosed with a mental health issue. 
 
Plus desserts, and no I am not having a craving. Stressed backwards is desserts. Stress is related to you mental well-being and a lot of people get stressed at work. But, you wouldn’t say they wouldn’t be able to hold down a job, right?
 
Misconceptions shouldn’t be prejudiced on a minority or presumptions at the end of the day many of us will work on  and not know we have a mental health issue or don’t want to tell everyone about ourselves. The gossips.
 

7. The sticky stigma that says we ought to be ashamed.

It is said that people who experience anxiety most frequently agree that it is stigmatizing.
 
This sticky stigma is a web and we are the fly. Mental health is often shhhushed… you can’t talk about that. Awkward. It is a taboo, when physical health isn’t.
 
It this secretive atmosphere. Like holding a piece of paper tight to your chest so others don’t see. 
 
We shouldn’t be made to bow our heads in shame, if we are innocent. We are not guilty of anything.
 
There is nothing to be ashamed of. Just be yourself.
 

8. If I only had a brain… how we are depicted by society as the stumbling Scarecrow from Oz.

If I only had a brain… I would say how stupid this assumption is. No seriously where can I get one?
 
A common misconception is that people with mental health problems are dysfunctional and do not have control of themselves. Like the singing Scarecrow without a brain we are limited and unknowing of truths.
 
ErEr Wrong again. This is further from the truth like how far Dorthy is away from home.
 

9. Where is the love??

Yep I love that Black Eyed Peas song. For me it rings true.
 
Where is the love? These misconceptions are due to a lack of love or sympathy. No one should be deprived of love! 
 
After all love is often the solution.
 

10. You’re like Casper the ghost. People see you as unfriendly and aloof.

I’m talking about the movie in the 2000s people. In a way we can all relate to Casper. Yep I know he is not real, but the context is.
 
People ran away from Casper because of his unfriendly ghost exterior. But, when we got to know him as a character we knew all of that wasn’t true. Hence, Casper the friendly ghost.
 
We are generalised as unfriendly folk, but that’s a myth.
 

11. For teens its all part of puberty.

1 in 10 young people have a mental health problem. So, we may have mood swings and a roller coaster of ups and downs. However, as this statistic demonstrates that it is not all part of puberty.
 

12. When you get the feeling you are being treated differently.

When I asked people the question of what the common misconceptions are, this came up. Well in more words.
 
We have all have had that feeling of being treated differently, because of our mental health. Sometimes in not the nicest of ways.
 
You will agree that everyone deserves kindness, love and empathy. So no-one should be made to feel different for the wrong reasons or in a way where you feel put down. 
 
Everyone is equal!

Thanks for all the people who made the comments! You helped me write this article. Thank you.

7 Different Types of Anxiety

  These days there is a word for everything. Take erinaceous which means ‘like a hedgehog’. Yep congratulations if you got that one, but seriously there is a word for that? Why? Because we humanoids like to define everything otherwise, it is becomes an unknown. And boy are we people screamish of unknowns.

So, that is why for me… Little anxious girl, was somewhat weirdly to say it relieved (lets out breath) when I was told I had social anxiety. This would be when I would use the metaphor it opened my eyes. It seriously did. It made things sort of add up.The anxiety wasn’t just a dark googly monster in the corner of my mind. Or this phantom that no-one else thought was real.

I will let you into a secret of what I learnt. You can’t just put yourself in one box i.e. for me social anxiety. You might experience a combination of them at some point.

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

For short GAD, is the most common type of anxiety. This is when you have been feeling anxious for over a long period of time (for a minimum of 6 months). Often you find it hard to remember when you last felt relaxed. And as a result get mental and physical symptoms such as: irritability, difficulty concentrating, continual worrying, muscle tension, headaches.

Basically if you are feeling constantly anxious, worried or stressed whether be physically or mentally, perhaps both – to the point where it is having an effect on your life you might have GAD.

Please do click on the following websites for some good information on GAD and symptoms:

2. Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is often mistaken as shyness – trust me I know. It is also a common anxiety – so you are definitely not alone. It is the fear of people and social situations.
 
You fear judgement from others. Scared of being rejected or talked about. It is having the fear that somehow you are going to embarrass yourself in front of others. This then has an impact on your everyday life. Perhaps it prevents you from doing things like talking to someone on the phone or going shopping.
 
Please clicky on the link below to find out more about social anxiety and symptoms:

3. Panic Disorder

At some point we all will feel panicked. In fact at least 1 in 10 people have panic attacks now and then. But, panic disorder is the recurrence of panic attacks and about 1 in 50 of us suffer from this. It is no wonder that panic attack after panic attack can leave with this cloud of doom and fear.

 If you think this is you please find more information on the NHS Panic Disorder


4.Agoraphobia

According to my anxiety book the term Agoraphobia is Greek for the fear of the market place. Which makes sense when agoraphobia is the fear for busy, claustrophobic and crowded places, right? 
 
Like most anxieties we are anxious in order to protect ourselves – likewise with agoraphobia. The majority of people who suffer from this at one point from another have experienced a terrifying panic attack that has resulted in you wanting to stay at home – a safe place.
 
If you want to find expert information on agoraphobia click on the following links…

5. Phobias

Undoubtedly we all know what a phobia is. We all usually have one. Of course the usual line up of phobias are: spiders, heights and snakes. Yes those people couldn’t last in I’m a Celeb. All it is, is an irrational fear of some thing that can cause a lot of anxiety and panic. 
 
If  you want to find more about phobias or a phobia you particularly have, you might want to virtual take a ride over to these sites:

6. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I’m pretty sure you have come across the acronym PTSD and this is it. You may know this already but PTSD is cause of an event that has been distressful and traumatic. It is important to remember that PTSD can develop soon after the event, but it can also be years after it.
 
These events can range from natural disasters to violent attacks to accidents. An occasion that has been fight and flight and truly terrifying. Naturally when events such as this happen in our lives they can have a profound impact on us. For PTSD you may relive this event or become anxious when things remind you of this event 
 
If you are suffering from the result of a distressing event or want to simply know the symptoms, please take a look at these:
 

7. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People often associate OCD with this idea of extreme cleanliness. However, this is not always case and disregards the depth of reasoning for each individual.  OCD is when you feel overwhelmed with scary, intrusive thoughts, images or impulses that conclude with the urgent need to perform certain actions to protect yourself.
 
If you want to learn more about the symptoms of OCD here are some useful links:

If you feel you suffer from any of these anxieties please go and see your GP. Talk to someone. Tell someone you trust. Here are some helpful sites in this particularly baffling time: