It’s time for our monthly segment ‘Breakthrough Besties’ and I cannot wait to introduce you to this month’s Bestie!
February features a stunning fellow Aussie, Ashleigh from The Bear and Me. I stumbled across her on Instagram almost 6 months ago, and quickly found her to be a source of inspiration for me, not only in her content but in her personal story. She was my twin from a parallel universe! Having both shared very similar hardships and struggles, her story is something I can deeply relate to, and no doubt many of you can also.
This month she kindly shares her story with us on coming to terms with anxiety, and why breaking down your internal stigmas and seeking help is best thing you can do to start living the live you want to live.
The concept of not being good enough is a battle I have faced for many years now. That negative head space, constantly reiterating, you aren’t good enough, when the tiniest thing goes south. This topic is actually something I’m really passionate about because it is one of the reasons I started blogging. I began blogging in February 2016 and my oh my, what a year it has been! Last year I was in a really bad place, at the time I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know how bad until I reflected back on it. A year ago I was struggling big time with my mental health. I had physical health issues for over a year and I had that many tests, doctor’s appointments and specialist appointments that I always put off going to the doctor because it always brought bad news, or worse, no news. That’s why I put off seeking help for my anxiety for so long. I have struggled on and off with anxiety since 2007. My first anxiety attack was terrifying and I didn’t realise what it was until many years later. My anxiety has always played on my insecurities and that’s why for so long I lived with not feeling like I’m good enough.
I used to suffer anxiety attacks on a regular basis, it even got to the point last year where it was almost weekly. And they gradually got worse and worse over the smallest of things. I used to get anxiety attacks when I got stuck in traffic, when I got lost, when I was going to a new place or even just before an exam. It was so bad that when my partner suggested I get help, I had an anxiety attack, because I felt like I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t normal. In my head I was thinking, I’m not that person, I’m not an anxious person, I just get nervous. But boy I was wrong. I didn’t want to believe that I had a mental illness. I was in denial. I was in denial for a very long time and it made it that much harder to go see someone about it. I went to the doctors and did a few tests and it turned out that I had some serious anxiety issues. My doctor referred me to a psychologist as I flat out refused to take medication at that point. I’m one of those people that instead of taking pain relief when it begins hurting, I’ll wait until it’s unbearable. Silly I know, but I have always been like that. I believed that with guidance and support that I could do this. I could help fix my mental illness all by myself. And I did.
I went to regular sessions with my psychologist who taught me some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, positive mindset and taking control over my thinking. The big one that helped me was the question, is it worth it? Is this situation worth me feeling anxious over? Whenever I am feeling angry, upset or anxious I ask myself that question because in a year’s time, it’s usually not going to matter. Sometimes, the next day it doesn’t even matter, and yet I used to let myself get so worked up over nothing. When things get too much now I either meditate or I do some yoga. I particularly love yoga because you get both the physical and mental benefits.
A year on from that low point in my life so much has changed, I got a new job, I moved out of home and I finished studying. I learnt to become aware of my emotions and know when I need help. I’m not “cured” of my anxiety because I still get these anxious feelings when I think about certain situations, but I know for me, that’s reason enough to go see my psychologist just to put those feelings at ease. I accept the help that I need and I’m so incredibly thankful to my loved ones who encouraged me to go.
If you are suffering from any sort of mental illness, no matter how big or small, I 100% recommend seeking help from your doctor or psychologist. You may be in denial like I was but my life has turned around for the better and I know that it’s ok to accept help. You can’t do everything yourself, sometimes you need that extra support to just keep swimming.
If you’d like to follow Ash’s journey you can find her at https://ashleighpotter.wordpress.com/ or on her social channels, Instagram at _thebearandme and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thebearandme/