When someone asks me when I first properly developed Anxiety was when I was 17 years old but felt I always had a little bit of it growing up. With having a Receptive Language Disorder since I was born, had made me feel very anxious and different to everyone else. The why I explain it is that it was a delay in learning and understanding spoken and written language. I’ve had speech therapy since I was 18 months old, been in special needs units in two primary schools, and then I went to a Residential Boarding School in Derbyshire for 6 years for children with moderate learning difficulties. I always felt a lot of pressure to do well in school and manage to do my GCSE’s which I never thought I’d be able to do.
The real downhill slope in my mental health was when my Mum was suffering from a chronic illness, and also I didn’t receive much support from staff members and friends during this difficult time. From being a bubbly teenager and just gaining my confidence, I went backwards and became withdrawn, scared of going out and alone. I was bullied in the last 3 weeks of me being at school, this was when my mum was currently having her second of three operations, and I was away from home too. Again the staff members did nothing which made me feel even lower and that I wasn’t worth caring about.
When I finally came home I struggled to adjust being back and felt like an outsider to everyone. I swept all the pain and rejection from that last year under the carpet, thinking it would take the pain away and hopefully forget what happened. I struggled to find myself and not knowing what to do in my life. I started to feel like a little bit of me was coming back when I trained as a Make-up Artist and felt I found my calling and that I was good at something. But then my anxiety was growing even more when I was surrounded by others in the industry that were more confident then I was, and felt like an outsider again. Two years later I was jobless, lost out on a lot of money and developed depression. Also I started suffering from huge panic attacks and would sometimes make me pass out and leave me feeling ill for days after.
I was lucky that my GP put me on anti-depressants and referred me for CBT. It did help but felt deep down that I had anxiety which my GP and CBT therapist told me I didn’t have. Then about 2 and a half years ago I found an article on Anxiety from woman called Chloe Brotheridge who suffered from it and is expert on helping other suffers. I finally realised after reading this that I did suffer from it and wasn’t going crazy. The article mentioned about Chloe’s book called “The Anxiety Solution” and started heal and face the pain from the past I buried all those years ago and make sense of it all. I found talking about my feelings, facing my inner fears and embracing myself was the real turning point in me getting better. I started to learn how to calm my mind by meditating, using mindfulness, going on retreats and meeting likeminded people, being kind to myself, letting go of trying to be perfect and most importantly to not feel ashamed of who I am and my journey. Also I started to believe in myself more and know that I’m good at what I do. I feel like the old me bubbly, fun quirky me has finally come back but older, wiser and stronger.
I realise now that that having a mental illness isn’t a weakness but actually a huge amount of strength that no one knows we have. I’m a warrior in dealing with this constant battle most of us has to deal with, and it has made me into the person I am today. With having this I’m more sympatric and kind towards others going through the same thing. Also that I’m more than capable of doing anything my mind sets to do, and not letting my Language Disorder to define and stop me. In regards to my work as a Make-up Artist my co-workers and clients have been so supportive and also makes me a better artist with working with others who suffer the same. That I have a better understanding of how they feel and making sure my clients feel comfortable and safe working with me.
I encourage anyone to seek help and talk to someone who you feel comfortable with about how you’re feeling. Also not to feel ashamed, embarrassed, guilty or a failure about you mental health. Also to be kind to yourself and knowing that it’s never too late to get help and that you’re not alone.