Mental health awareness week is an important week here at Girlie Gossip headquarters! Let me tell you why!
Kez, the beautiful and talented CEO of Girlie Gossip is more than just my ‘boss’! Our friendship came first. We met through a support network specifically for people who suffer from agoraphobia, anxiety and panic disorders. We connected through our mutual suffering and we have supported and worked alongside each other, (well, via skype,) ever since.
In the UK, up to 2 in every 100 people have panic disorder. Kez and I just happen to be those two! Around a third of those people will go on to develop agoraphobia. That was the case for both me and Kez, and over the years we have suffered to varying degrees. At times being completely housebound for months and months at a time.
Anxiety is far more common, however. 1 in 10 people in the UK are likely to suffer from a disabling anxiety disorder and this is on the rise.
So, this topic is close to our hearts and raising awareness for Mental Health is more than important to us!
So whether you are here because you can relate, or you want to help a loved one, or you simply want to understand more, then I hope this article is helpful.
10 Things People with Agoraphobia, Anxiety or Panic Disorder Want You to Know
｡｡ It is NOT a choice ｡｡
By saying anxiety, agoraphobia or panic is not real, you are not taking it seriously. You are undermining it; you are saying it is not a real illness. It is!
｡｡ If we could try a little harder… we would ｡｡
Asking someone to try harder to overcome their anxiety is incredibly damaging. People fight every day of their lives to simply get up and start the day. Do not undermine their progress or measure their success against the abilities of someone who does not have anxiety disorders.
｡｡ We are still the same person ｡｡
We are not our anxiety. Every person who suffers from either of these disorders is not their anxiety either. Look past it!
｡｡ Anxiety is not in our heads ｡｡
Often when people think about anxiety they think about excessive worrying, maybe butterflies in the stomach or slight nausea. This is not the case. It is so much more! It is exhaustion to the point you cannot stand to cook dinner and a crippling stomach pains and constant dizziness. Heart palpations and violent shaking. The physical side effects are intense and very real.
｡｡ We know our anxiety is completely irrational ｡｡
No one understands our anxieties better than ourselves. We are more than aware that we are being completely irrational, but believe me it does not help. When you are at the peak of a panic attack, all logic goes out of the window. We do not need to be reminded that we are being irrational. It is not helpful!
｡｡ It is not personal ｡｡
When we cancel plans last minute or we don’t take the call. It is not personal.
｡｡ We feel helpless all of the time ｡｡
The shame and embarrassment that coincides with being mentally unwell is overwhelming. When you have a mental illness that impacts on your life in such a way that you can no longer function normally, or in such a way that your loved ones are impacted, you feel it. You feel it BIG time!
｡｡ There is often no explanation ｡｡
More often than not we cannot explain why we are anxious. Yes, we all have triggers but most of the time it turns up unexpected and certainly uninvited. Don’t expect us to explain in detail why we feel the way we do. Just accept its happening and sit it out. It will pass.
｡｡ Have you tried? ｡｡
Yes, Yes, and probably, Yes. Chances are, we have tried everything. Meditation, Medication, Healthy Lifestyle etc. We know you mean well, but unless you have a tried, tested, and evidence-based suggestion… we have likely been there, and done that!
｡｡ We need you to love us anyway ｡｡
Anxiety disorders impact a great deal on people who know and love those who suffer. We do know and we are painfully aware of this fact. We need you to love us anyway, regardless of our anxieties. Don’t talk about all of the things we could do when “we are better,” because that makes us feel like we aren’t good enough now.
｡｡ Love us! Exactly as we are ｡｡
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”
If you are affected by any of the things discussed in this article you can find support and advice through NHS Choices Helplines.