Social Anxiety No Longer Controls Me

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 22.24.29

As I am writing this now, I couldn’t be more confident. I never thought I’d arrive at this stage because all my life, I suffered with crippling social anxiety. To overcome it, was something I’d always wished for but never thought I’d be able to. I am surprised that recently, people tell me that I seem bubbly and perky. That was never me in the past.

When someone finds out I suffer with depression and anxiety, they find it hard to believe because I apparently always seem cheerful and have a smile on my face despite my daily struggles. Smiling makes you appear more confident and I am glad people perceive me that way.

I know what it is like to feel invisible. To feel ashamed and embarrassed in public. To feel like every word that comes out of your mouth will be scrutinised and judged. To have that stomach churning feeling before going outside. Before, I had to mentally and physically prepare myself before going out. I used to feel sick at the thought of people looking at me. I always looked down when walking, hoping no one talks to me or sees my “ugly” face.

The purpose of this piece is make people aware that it won’t be like this forever because right now, I can safely say that I have overcome social anxiety.

The key to becoming more confident is simple. Just do it. The amount of times I pushed myself into scary situations and felt it went terribly – well it did go terribly and I have embarrassed myself numerous of times but did it kill me? No. I have been rejected and I still do get rejected. Yes, it does get me down but I learnt not to dwell on the mistakes. I learnt not to overthink. Instead, I learnt to keep trying, despite the knock backs and failures. The more mistakes I made, the more rejections I received, it only made me stronger. It made me try again and that has resulted in me not being scared anymore and in turn, it made me confident in myself.

Now, I do and say the most silliest and bravest things, which I could never have done previously. I walk with my head held high. I smile. I wear tiaras and flowers on my hair for God’s sake! I obviously stand out and I always get complimented on my style. That boosts my confidence. Looking good definitely plays a part in appearing more confident. Of course, there are mornings when I wake up and feel like hiding away but then, I wear my best outfit and rock it, and I automatically feel on top of the world. I like being silly, I like laughing and having fun and I like not being scared to just talk. I have a voice, why should I be afraid to use it? I ruined so many opportunities in the past because of my lack in confidence, so now I am on mission to face everything head on.

I don’t know if it is the amount of CBT I had or if it is my medication that’s helping, but honestly, I just feel like a new person (not taking into account my anorexia). I must be honest though – sometimes my confidence can be detrimental. I can almost appear too confident and become hypomanic as a result of my personality disorder. However, I am more in control of this now and aware of when it gets to that point.

No matter how anxious you feel, please know that it won’t be this way forever. The answer to overcoming anxiety is to just keep putting yourself into scary situations, face that fear, make mistakes and go back and keep doing it until ‘fear’ no longer means anything to you.

This post is published on The Huffington Post UK.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Up on Someone With Mental Health Problems

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 20.11.50

If you are a friend or a loved one of someone with a mental health condition, you would know that it is not easy. You may have tried many times to help them but you seem to be failing each time. As worried as you are for them, you feel frustrated and hopeless. You may feel you cannot deal with them. So you give up and attempt to cut all ties and leave them. If you are friend or a loved one with a mental health condition reading this now, please do not give up on them.

People who have a condition such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) will most certainly have issues maintaining relationships which can make it hard to stay with them at times. Though not their intention of trying to make your life hard with the threats and rage – it is actually a cry for help.

Please bear in mind that this person did not choose to have a mental illness. It is not their fault, nor your fault. However hard it is to deal with this person, if you care enough for them, you should be there for them, no matter what. Leaving them is their biggest fear. In fact, the things they may do is their way of holding on to you because of the fear of losing you. They don’t know how to express this, so it often comes out in anger and rage. This often goes back to the sufferers past where they experienced this before or may have always been very alone, and because suddenly someone finally comes into their life and actually cares, it feels like a determination to make sure they never leave so they don’t feel like they did before.

This is coming from a person who suffers with various disorders including BPD. Love and care has been something I have always looked for but rarely found and if I did, it would not last for long. Constantly being disappointed by people leaving because my condition is hard to deal with. To me, the sufferer, it feels like people use me and then leave me like I mean nothing to them. It feels like the only person who you thought you could trust, who you love, who you care for, hates you. Giving up on this person can ultimately make them give up on themselves. Bearing in mind, they are already feeling low. By giving up, you may have just pushed them over the edge, as guilt-ridden as that sounds. This person does not need that along with what they are already feeling and you don’t need that on your conscience.

If you are a friend or loved one of someone with mental illness and finding it hard to cope with their problems, before even thinking of giving up on them, calmly talk to them. Get them to seek help. Listen to them. Try not to be divisive or judgmental and most certainly, be weary of blaming them. They already feel like they are to blame. Find another way to help them if what you tried is not working. Sometimes, the sufferer just wants to be heard or even just wants a simple hug. I can tell you that a person who has been deprived of love and finally gets the attention they so desperately need – it is a powerful feeling.

If all else fails and you just don’t understand how else you can help them, please go to therapy with them. Family therapy may help. Couples therapy may help. There are also carers groups where you can meet other carers in the same situation so you don’t feel alone. There is so much out there to help you both.

Whatever you decide to do, please hold on to them. There is hope.

This post was published in The Huffington Post.