Anxiety for me started in college, some 5 years or so ago now. I remember not really having a term for it, but I knew how I felt; and I knew it was disrupting every day tasks and my relationships at the time. I put so much pressure on myself, I couldn’t stop thinking about everything all the time. I’d ask myself why I couldn’t just switch it off, but it only made things progress negatively for me.
When I made my decision to go to University, it was probably the best thing I had done for myself. It was a huge leap for me wellbeing wise, as it was going into the unknown- but at the same time, I think I needed to mix things up a little. I chose to do a degree in Counselling Therapy, because Psychology and helping others was a passion I had alongside my illustration work. My aim was to become an Art Therapist. Modules were based on self awareness, therapeutic practice as well as developing knowledge on psychological difficulties. By learning and growing as a person throughout my first months of University, left me taking a step back and looking at myself as a whole. I was still getting the bus an hour early to lectures because I couldn’t face people looking at me in such a crowded space. I hated talking in front of people and I didn’t go out with my friends at night because it was too daunting for me most of the time. I was having panic attacks, chest pains and always feeling extremely on edge. I just remember not being able to let go.
I confided in my friends at the time, and I spoke to my lecturer about how I was feeling. She suggested the Counselling Service at the University. The therapist catered to how I was feeling by giving me more information on mindfulness, and we incorporated that into our therapy sessions. I didn’t understand where my anxiety was coming from, and to learn how to cope with it and be present was something that, in all honesty, changed my life.
From knowing about Mindfulness and bringing that into everyday life, allowed me to gently allow myself to feel whatever I feel. Focus on the moment right now, that wherever you are right now is where you’re meant to be. Of course I still have my bad days, and I’ve only had one panic attack this year- which is a huge achievement compared to my college years. I know what it feels like when your mind is just on that continuous loop of over-thinking. It can swallow you whole and it’s so very hard to control it. However, mindfulness can gentle make you aware of yourself and your mind- breathing is key.
Also, knowing that life is not an achievement, but a never ending growing process helped me tonnes. I thought by a certain age I had to have done certain things, that I needed to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life by the age of 16 in education. Your passions find you, whatever your thing is, believe in it- and your path will slowly but surely happen whether you know it or not.
I left University so unsure after being in education for so long. Although I did have an idea of how I could turn my experience into something sweet and inspiring. In the last year, I spoke about Teenage Mental Health for BBC Radio 4, collaborated with some amazing mental health organisations and own Keep Real- a sustainable clothing and goods brand that inspires wellness. I also work for The Body Shop (I’m super passionate about supporting ethical cruelty free companies).
I never would have thought I’d be where I am now without seeking help and admitting I had a problem. Be gentle with yourself and do one thing at a time.