Hello lovely people!

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while now so I thought mental health awareness week is the best time to blog about this. I’m really glad mental health is becoming more recognised now and not discussed as a taboo, I still think more needs to be done to recognise anxiety & depression but with more and more people talking about it I think it can really help those who are still suffering.

I never really suffered with anxiety until 3 years ago, I have always been a worrier but I used to get over it quickly and worry about the little things however, after being in a car crash 3 years ago something changed in my mindset and my worrying and mental state got much worse. I remember the first week after the crash being at home on my own (which probably didn’t help at all!) as I wasn’t fit enough to go into work. Thankfully the crash wasn’t severe, no broken bones just a few bruises and whiplash so I thought I was fine as I hadn’t been physically hurt badly however, what had suffered was my mental state. I didn’t realise how badly this had affected me at the time as I was trying to be brave and not ‘overreact’ as I was physically fine after 2 weeks rest however, anxiety and panic attacks started to kick in. For those of you who don’t really understand what anxiety is heres a few symptoms that I suffered with; dizzyness, panic, worry, insomnia, heart palpitations, breathlessness.

I cried most days and was anxious to leave the house and even more nervous to get back into a car as a passenger, Lee was great with me as he encouraged me to go on short journeys to start with and then eventually take the normal routes to the shops or to home. I remember our first drive home I was just on edge the whole way clutching to the door handle and wishing the minutes away until we arrived. My first big panic attack happened was when I arrived back to work, everyone was on their lunch hour and I was still in the office and this overwhelming sense of panic and breathlessness came over me and I just broke down into tears. Luckily my friend Linda was there to calm me down by doing breathing exercises which I still do now if I feel one coming on. I’m glad Linda was there at that moment as I would have probably just dealt with that on my own and kept quiet about it as I was embarrassed by what happened at the time but I was open about it from day one and I think this is what has helped me deal with anxiety better.

Once I left my placement year I had time to relax over the summer and my panic attacks became less frequent. My anxiety was still quite bad as I was so worried to go back to university to finish my final year in this state of mind but I tried to fight it. I decided to move to Preston into a private rented studio as the hours you do in final year wouldn’t be workable if I was travelling from Manchester or the Lakes, the idea of moving out of our flat into student accommodation on my own was not appealing and I think this worry caused my anxiety to worsen without me really realising, as I was trying to be strong and I needed to do this for myself.

So I moved to Preston for 6 months to complete my final year. I saw Lee every week so it worked well for us but I started to notice my anxiety and moods were getting worse especially in the last 3 months where the pressure started to pile on. Don’t get me wrong I loved doing final year and I couldn’t of got through it without the girls in my class, we really supported each other as a few of us were going through similar issues so it was nice to know I wasn’t alone in it all as the ones that were suffering too talked about it openly. I really feel like being open about this issue helped myself and others get through the hard times and even the girls who didn’t suffer from it were just as equally as supportive as they understood.

My panic attacks began to become more frequent and I was having up to 3 a day which if any of you know what one feels like, is exhausting! so working on no sleep and dealing with panic attacks daily was seriously draining my poor body was ruined but I powered through. As they became worse, I decided to go to the doctors and they put me on Propranolol (beta-blockers) to help slow my heart rate down and stop me shaking as my heart palpitations were becoming more frequent, after a week or so of using these I could feel a difference physically, I was calmer.  However, I would still have a little cry every now and again that I couldn’t explain, it just came on. I was constantly comparing myself to others and everything I did I wasn’t happy with which probably effected my work, I do wish I had done more to my final collection and just got my head down and got on with it but somedays were too bad to focus and I focused on what I couldn’t change instead of what I could achieve, but then again that could be the designer in me; we are always changing our minds and want to do better.

The day I handed in my final collection was the best feeling of relief I have ever had, my heart was racing, I was bright red from crying over panicking so I was definitely ready for a strong drink after that! The week after handing in was the best I had felt in a long time, I was happier, had no panic attacks and I was worrying less and less. When I moved back to Manchester it felt really strange as I was so used to being busy and not having a lot of sleep so adjusting back into a normal lifestyle was quite hard. I was lucky enough to land my job back at my placement so I started there in June after leaving university in May.

I was worried at first as this was when all my anxiety started however, when I went back I felt like a different person, I was more confident in myself after going through the stresses of final year I felt I could manage things a lot better. I still suffer with mild anxiety in stressful situations but not half as bad as I used too and I haven’t had a panic attack for over a year now which I am super proud of. I did think I was going to have one last week when I had to travel back from China on my own when a few things went wrong but I controlled it and did my breathing exercises; for me now its all about living in the moment, being positive and not worrying about what if this happens or what if that happens I have learnt that I can’t control everything and just to accept it and what will be will be and it was ok, I made my flight and could laugh about it afterwards!

I feel in a much better state of mind and I have found that blogging really helps with my anxiety as writing helps me to relax and unwind and I am in a job that I love so that really helps too! Luckily I had a lot of support around me from friends and family when dealing with my issues but I know not everyone is in the same position, but the best advice I can give for anyone reading this who is suffering with mental health, please don’t stay in silence you will be surprised at how many people are dealing with this and how understanding people are. Even if you don’t feel like you want to tell anyone just yet, write your feelings down, keep a log of how you feel each day and then you can look back and see how far you have come, its all baby steps and a little progress each day will surprise you.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read 🙂

Love, Nina x

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