Mental illness can affect anyone of any age at any time. For me personally mental health illness came around during a diagnosis of epilepsy. I developed anxiety. Around 50% of people with epilepsy report to have gone through some form of anxiety, so I’m not alone.
I would stay at home and hide myself away in fear. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I was scared of I was just to frightened to go out.
I would have bouts of insomnia where I wouldn’t be able to sleep because anxiety was having an effect where I thought someone was in my house and going to attack me. I’d lay still, in an entrapment of fear that was very very real. I’d get scared about doing simple things and worry something would happen to my family. If I had to go to hospital I would break down and scream in fear that I was going to be hurt and nobody was going to be there with me. I was so scared. At the time I didn’t really associate it with mental illness as I was already so overwhelmed with the epilepsy that I couldn’t think of anything else.
I went to see my GP just for a check up and to update her on how I was doing with my epilepsy. I built up the courage and told her about my anxiety and that I wasn’t coping very well in social situations and also about my insomnia. She was so understanding and supportive, it was a massive relief for me to know that someone can help me over come this! She talked me through the options I could take and gave me some NHS leaflets of where I could find help. Due to my epilepsy it’s hard to sometimes take the medication on offer for anxiety as a lot of medications can affect how each other work, and I wanted to try something a bit less invasive before trying medications, although they are a very good alternative that I would consider if I needed to.
I didn’t seek any help for my anxiety after my GP visit for a little while as I wanted to see how it went and if I could manage this alone. It didn’t and I couldn’t, my anxiety was becoming worse and I was getting angry and depressed. It was affecting my relationships with my family. I was so anxious about everything and the over thinking was controlling my life. I decided I couldn’t stand this anymore and looked online for help. I’d seen a lot of people using things like running and exercise to help relieve negative emotions and anxiety. I didn’t think of myself as a runner but I love walking my dogs and decided one day to put myself first and change all of this. I started using mindfulness techniques and generally taking better care of my own health. Taking responsibility for it. I found simple things like just drinking more water was benefitting me. Just taking myself out of the cycle was the first step on my road to recovery.
My anxiety still crops up but I know how to control it better and I also know that the ‘time to talk’ NHS programme is there when I need it. I know I’m not alone in this and that talking and helping myself is the best way for me.
My advice to anyone going through a mental health issue is to talk about it. There are many ways you can do this and can also do it confidentially. Seeking help from my GP and websites for mental health are the best thing I have ever done. Look after yourself and your brain will follow.
Let’s erase the stigma and talk about this subject that affects so many people today. Mental health matters, it is so important!
By Victoria Standing
If you are struggling with your mental health and feel scared or anxious about talking to your GP – DocReady can help! Docready is a website that helps you build a checklist of things you wish to speak to your GP about so that you can take this with you. It also offers free information and advice about what to expect, how to make the most of your appointment and your rights.