I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon with posts. I tend to write what I want to write about which tends to be beauty, and not really write about what’s going on in the news or social media. I don’t do clickbait. But after a comment that was made on Thursday about mental health and me wanting to put my two cents in with a bit of backlash, I wanted to explain myself.
#JustGoForAWalk was trending and I’m not going to put in anything about the girl who stated it originally (she can believe what she wants and I will let people have an opinion), I just want to tell you how I feel about it all.
I have suffered with depression and anxiety for 6 or 7 years now so at least a quarter of my life. Therefore, I’ve struggled through for a quarter of my life finding different ways to help myself out when I’m having bad days. I’ve tried three types of medication (one beta blocker and two types of SSRI), I had a mentor to talk through things with at uni and I also went on a stress management course.
My anxiety and depression are obviously a constant in my life but there are waves of it being much worse. Stressful situations trigger me and I can go from seemingly fine, having learnt how to mask my MH very well, to a very steep downward spiral where I don’t want to move for days. I’ve had two major bouts of this rock bottom feeling in my life, one in January-April 2013 when I was in year 13, and one in November 2014 – June 2015 when I was in my second year of university. Can you relate those to stress? Most definitely.
A Levels were awful for me. I moved schools and had no friends. I had acquaintances but if there was a party I was rarely invited. I floated between groups as was never anybody’s number one pick. Although I’m fairly introverted, I am a pretty social person and it caused me to get really upset. Why did nobody want to be my friend? What was wrong with me? Not only did I have that stress, but also A Level stress. Nobody warned me how much work would be involved in A Levels and I got more and more ill as time went on. I missed so much school and to be honest, I was very close to dropping out. I knew I had anxiety (this was diagnosed just before I turned 16 but nothing was done about it), but at this point I hadn’t linked it to depression. I went to the doctors numerous times with back ache and headaches but because I didn’t put the idea into their head that it was that, nothing was done about it. The only thing that got me out of the house was ballet lessons, and I always felt better there.
I loved my first year of university. I made friends really quickly with the girls that I lived with and the girls on my course. But I’m easily irritated. Living in such a confined space where things didn’t go quite my way made it hard. I would have to nap a lot to get through the week because the anxiousness I was feeling about not saying things to people drained me. I had a couple of bad periods where I didn’t want to spend time with anyone, but I got past it by walking up to the field near where I lived and just sitting with a book.
My second year of university was much tougher. Grades actually mattered and I was in a house with two people I’d lived with before and two people I hadn’t. From October until March, I cried every day. Until I’d cried all the tears that I had and was physically too exhausted to cry anymore. I couldn’t say why at the time and it took until March for my best friend to drag me to the doctors. This is when I was put on propranolol and it worked a little bit, but I still dreaded going back to the house. I loved where I lived but I wasn’t getting on with who I was living with. Our courses were very different and I worked alone a lot, tending to isolate myself. I felt like I was left out of things like going out for dinner as three of them were on the same course and would organise things together at uni, and forget about little old me. And I couldn’t always go crying to my coursemates or my boyfriend because they had other lives to lead. Luckily, I lived overlooking a park, a really beautiful park. When it all got too much I would walk around it. Once I walked for two hours because I couldn’t face going back into the house. The house that made me feel hated.
As stress is what sets off my anxiety and depression, the only way I can reduce the effects is by getting out of the situation. Yes, all I want to do is curl up under the duvet but it doesn’t help. Getting out of the house, even into the garden, can be a huge step on bad days but I know it does me good. In fact, as I’m writing this, the hashtag itself and having to try to explain my feelings on it has triggered my anxiety. Instead of hiding, I’m being brave and going for a walk. I’m going to pick some blackberries and then make a crumble or a pie or something, anything to take my mind off it.
So don’t tell me that going for a walk doesn’t help. Because it does. It helps me. And going for a walk could also mean going to the gym, going on a bike ride, going for a swim, just doing some form of exercise. The doctors wouldn’t say it didn’t work if it didn’t. Don’t shut me down because something didn’t work for you. When you’ve been in this rut for 7 years you find what works and you go for it. I’m not saying you’re not brave if you can’t do it, because bravery is subjective. There are a lot of things I’m not saying. I’m not saying it helps psychosis. I’m not saying it’ll help someone in recovery from an eating disorder. I’m not saying it will be beneficial for someone with a personality disorder. But it sure as hell helps me get a handle on my anxiety. So don’t patronise me and don’t tell me I’m wrong. Stop telling me to have empathy for people who can’t get up and do this. I personally believe that believing in yourself is half the battle and having the willpower to change is what you really need to start yourself off. It can take a while to get there from rock bottom, but believe me, you will. It’s taken me years to get to a decent enough place to be able to talk about it and share what works for me. I’ve only shared one thing that has helped me in this post, but I’m a beauty blog and not here to share loads of my life with you. But this was important to me.
Exercise is not a cure, and I’ve never said it is, but it’s a starting point. When I walk, I can pay attention to my breathing. I can count my breaths without it feeling like the walls are closing in on me. It gives me a helping hand and makes me feel better, so don’t belittle me for finding something that works just because you haven’t yet. But you will.