Dear younger self,
Don’t be so hard on yourself because the things that you experience when you’re young and growing is just a small chapter in your life that will pass. When you’re older you will realize things will get better even though you didn’t think it would.
To end child mental health week, today I will be talking about anxiety; because of my own experiences and knowledge regarding it. I believe and always will believe that children or young adults should grow up in school with knowledge of what this is. Not only anxiety but other issues such as depression, self harm (which I will talk about my experience with another time) etc.
The story I am going to share with you in this post will hopefully help you understand why there needs to be emphasis on increasing children’s and young adult’s knowledge on this topic so they can become aware and begin to make changes, not reject who they are, embrace their problems and seek help if they’re feeling this way.
The first part of my story begins at primary school..
Primary school I was shy up until year 3. When I say shy… I never used to talk. Teachers would ask me “do you have a tongue?” and tried to send me to speech and language therapy because they thought I had difficulty talking but I was just extremely shy compared to the other kids in my class. I think I was and have always been too concerned about what people would think about me and this caused me to not speak when I was younger. In year 3 I met my long term friend and I started to come out of my shell a bit and talk and consequently met some new people.
I’d say I got good grades up until year 5. I had a new teacher who picked on me to answer the questions and my mind would go blank because the pressure of getting the answer wrong in front of everyone was intense and this kept happening resulting in me dropping sets in class. I feel as though my confidence dropped and I’d have the answer in my head but I’d become anxious and not say anything in fear I might be wrong.
SATS came which was an important exam back in the day and I remember being in a low maths set and having teachers read out the question to me in the exam with other people as if I was part of some special set (bearing in mind I could read every single word for myself). This really limited me in terms of getting a good grade and I never told them I could read it myself or I never told them I understand the question because I would doubt myself.
Secondary school began in the new term and I became very resentful to teachers and I came out of my shell a lot from primary school. It was almost like some sort of rebel phase. I would be in and out of detentions, answer teachers back, on and off of uniform report, be in isolation and it was almost like I enjoyed getting in trouble for some odd reason. Sounds silly now but I think I liked the attention, maybe because I wasn’t used to it. Anyways, this lead to me having to change school to a completely different environment. I literally didn’t know anyone there and was crying most nights because I wanted to go back. However, I eventually settled in.
Time came for GCSE’s; I noticed that I shouldn’t be getting the grades I was and no matter how many times I read the same book over and over again or tried to understand, I didn’t… which resulted in getting grades myself and my family was disappointed with. The bad grades started to affect me mentally; at home my sister would get good grades as in A’s and B’s and I could barely scrape a C. My sisters grades would be shown to the family whereas mine would be kept hidden.
This lead to me to start feel long like people were ashamed of my grades, that I wasn’t good enough or wasn’t going to get anywhere when I am older. I started to beat myself up about not doing as well as other people and I began to feel a lot of pressure which really affected me. No matter how hard I tried by having tutors or revising all night nobody saw that or seemed to think I was trying.
I started doubting myself and calling myself dumb. In sixth form I was scared that I wouldn’t get into uni.. It was all the self doubt that made me feel so scared because it was as though if I didn’t get into uni then I wouldn’t get anywhere in life.
I started to notice a lot of things about myself. I got into my first ‘long term’ relationship at 16 years old and although I thought this was love, it was far from it. There was a lot of bad arguments and breaking up and getting back together (literally a rollercoaster). Opening up and being myself would sometimes annoy my boyfriend at the time as it seemed like he didn’t like or couldn’t deal with it. I would have ideas of things I wanted to start and do such as blogging and he wouldn’t support those ideas and it made me feel like I wasn’t going to be able to.
At the age of 16 it was difficult to understand how a relationship should be but because I got so used to being with that same person it was hard to leave after the years of being so attached.
I felt emotionally drained, cried almost every night, distracted from work, didn’t want to go out with friends or go to sixth form/uni because I was so down from arguments and fear of a breakup. Felt like I had no purpose or direction, that I wasn’t needed anymore and other things after also being cheated on so I became suicidal, lost my appetite, self worth and self confidence vanished, started caring too much again about what people thought about me and it was a horrible time.
The fear of loosing someone I’ve been in a relationship with for so long was my worst nightmare. I feel like this is linked to the fact that my first father figure left when I was young. I felt like I was never going to get into a good relationship and that people would leave me. Feeling like this made me feel as though there was no way out and although I wanted to start my own blog and pursue modelling I couldn’t as I didn’t have enough confidence to do so.
Over the years, I noticed that I would feel my breathing and heart rate increase when being around too many people or if I thought people were talking about me regarding the relationship I was in. Although I appeared confident, I don’t think it was true confidence . This anxiety grew because I wasn’t fully aware of what it was so I didn’t address it.
Getting out of this relationship was hard but I finally had enough. I felt strong enough to leave and not believe all the things that was said about me (even though they still had affected me) and I eventually came out of it with help.
I am still trying to address it, some days its difficult because you can’t understand why it keeps happening and some days you forget about it. I believe that my anxiety began through all these experiences. Although I am in a good place now and in a good relationship I still have to overcome it.
I can say I am very happy where I am now. Even though I’m not fully where I want to be I am working hard to get there. I have finally properly started my blog and slowly I’m becoming what I’ve always wanted to become. I’ve realized what a relationship should be like, I’ve realized what love actually is, I’ve realized my worth and how I can help other people through my experiences. I’m gaining the confidence to do things without needing to feel like someone shouldn’t approve it. Most importantly I’ve realized to love and embrace your past because it makes you who you are. You may not be alive if things in the past took a different path, so to be where you are now in the position to want to overcome your problems is a great thing. I also realise and I’m tying to not care what other people think about me even though this can be hard at times.
For anyone who isn’t aware of what anxiety is it can be defined as: A feeling of being worried, nervous and uneasy about something with an outcome that is unknown.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety are:
- Panic, fear and uneasiness
- Sleep problems
- Self doubt
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpation’s
- Dry mouth
- Sweaty or cold
- Nausea and dizziness
- Numbness or tingling of the hand or feet
- Muscle tension
It is said that anxiety might be caused by environmental factors but the exact cause is unknown.
Ways I have attempted to manage it:
- Telling yourself ‘this is not going to happen’ each time you have a negative or deep thought.
- When feeling out of breath take a deep breath slowly in and out (don’t worry about other people if you’re in public).. it helps trust me!
- Tell yourself that it is all in your head
- Distract yourself with something you enjoy or that makes you happy e.g. think of a memory, do something creative or go out with friends.
Remember that the mind is very powerful. If we try to spend more time working on ourselves these thoughts and feelings will eventually disappear.
Maybe write a motivational page, research ways to overcome it, or write things you like and dislike about yourself, track your moods, think of things in the past you haven’t gotten over etc.
I wrote my favorite bible verses:
I realize that these verses won’t help everyone as religion or religious content isn’t for everyone but just do whatever it is that calms you down and helps to relax you.
Make sure you find your happy place.
I think Anxiety can be changed and that people can become confident beings if they take time to understand, push and better themselves.
For more information about anxiety visit: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/#.WJxxG1XyjIU
Just remember: Whatever you’re going through things will get better as long as you make sure you believe you’ll get better. At one point I didn’t value myself and it lead me to a dark place but now I realize that I have a purpose in life and life is great when you have dreams and ambitions and learn how to overcome your struggles.
If you wrote a note to your younger self, what would you write?
Thank you for taking your time to read my small story. If anyone wants to email me any questions for advice then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, alternatively you can contact me via the contact page on my blog. All questions can be kept anonymous.
Thank you for taking your time to read this post, make sure you check out my other posts & keep an eye out for my next post soon!
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I hope you have a nice week.
Until next time…
Love, Tamika ♡