Remembering to be the ‘real you’ is so hard in todays society.  You know, like everybody seems to have some kind of high expectation of themselves to live up too.  Myself included obviously.  This week is mental health week and I am more than proud to say that I am a sufferer.  Now when I say proud, I am unsure that that is the right word.  Is it a thing to be proud of that?  I guess what I mean to say is that I am in no way ashamed of it, in fact, I find any excuse to talk about it.  I don’t talk about it looking for pity or condolence, I talk about it with positivity and optimism to encourage it to be more widely acknowledged and part of open and regular conversation.

Anxiety is my default mode. It is an active job on a day to day basis to keep it locked away. And I do manage it most of the time, medication absolutely helps me now but I haven’t always taken them, so before actually admitting I had a problem I had to find ways of coping with it myself. Sometimes it worked, most of the time it didn’t. But because I seem confident, outgoing and really rather driven in life many people had absolutely no idea how my head was secretly spirally out of control. So many people suffer in silence and every form of anxiety is different. It can come from completely different places. I have had two emotional breakdowns in my 29 years. Wow that was hard to admit, especially to the world wide web. But it is true, once when I was 16 and once at 20. Both times of my life when I should of been completely care free and enjoying life to the full. Except I wasn’t, I was worrying. Worrying about absolutely anything. The smallest thing I said or did which didn’t feel right, any mistake I made skyrocketed my mind into absolute disaster. I got on a train once at a station that didn’t have a ticket machine and then got off without paying because there was no conductor and BAM that was it, the police were going to track me down and put my ass in jail and with a criminal record I would never get a job or explore America because I would never get a visa. That is just an example of how ridiculously conscientious and out of control my mind is. Even to this day, yesterday in fact, meds and all I couldn’t steal a plastic bag from Tesco. But that’s life with anxiety.

Both of my breakdowns came at pivotal moments in my life. The death of my grandparents. Pivotal because little did I know, my mental health relied on them.

I am an only child. When I was very young my Mam and Dad went back to work because they were lucky enough and I was certainly lucky enough to have full time babysitters in the way of my four grandparents. They helped to shape me into the person I am today but also created a protective layer around me which allowed me to be me without consequence. However as I lost them it felt like those layers were being peeled away leaving me to feel exposed, very exposed, and accountable for absolutely everything and everybody around me. And so the anxiety took over.

It can be debilitating, it can be hard to get out of bed and face the world. I know because I’ve been there. Hey, I’m not going to lie there are many days where I am still there. But I am also a very happy, strong, independent woman with a husband, dog (a.k.a my only child) and a career I have worked hard to achieve in and absolutely love. So I am putting it out to all of you who suffer, its ok not to be ok, it is ok to be real about your situation. Embrace it and grow from it. Be real.

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