Just a warning – this post contains information on self-harm.
Hi. I’m Arianne and I have struggled with anxiety issues every day for the past five years. It’s extremely difficult and I’ve had my fair share of bad moments, but it’s part of who I am now. Sometimes it can be an absolute twat, and I hate it on those days. Yet, sometimes it can benefit me and force me to stop procrastinating.
Nope, you haven’t walked into a sort of weird mental health, non-addiction based version of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is actually how I have decided to tell you that this is about my anxiety – simple, blunt and to the point.
Just a little disclaimer, I can only truly speak about mental health from a 17-year-old girls perspective. However, I am someone who suffers and has been professionally diagnosed with a mental health issue; anxiety. So please excuse me if I don’t get your particular perspective on the issue, and I’d be more than willing to discuss a different perspective with you through my comments section.
I’m tired of becoming tense, both mentally and physically, before I tell someone of my psychological disorder. I find it absurd in a way. I know I’m not defined by my anxiety but I’m also aware that my anxiety is part of what makes me Arianne. Personally, I think this build-up of tension is due to three particular issues; stigmatisation, romanticisation and perfectionism.
Mental health discussion and understanding has come a long way not only in the last 100 years but also in my 17 years in this bizarre words. When I was in my early teens, nobody really spoke about mental health in a public way; but now so many people from different backgrounds openly speak about their struggles or disorders. The media has focused on statistics and campaigns focusing on mental health disorders or charities that provide support; this could be due to the rise in social media This in itself is a massive leap forward, but it’s still not enough.
Research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that there was a 68% increase in girls under 17 self-harming between 2011 and 2014. As someone who is a person including in that statistic, it’s horrifying yet not surprising. I self-harmed as a form of release. I felt I had no other outlets so I did what I felt I had to do to cope. I can’t speak for everybody that self-harmed or does self-harm, but there are so many reasons for self-injuries. I knew I had an issue but I felt I couldn’t go to seek professional help.
Part of the reason I didn’t seek psychiatric help was that I didn’t feel it would be taken seriously. I had been told on countless occasions that “it’s just because of your teenage hormones”. It’s such a ridiculously ignorant sweeping statement. Yes, going into adolescence is difficult and scary because your brain is rewiring itself and life starts to get a lot more serious; but not to the point where someone should be hurting themselves.
Then you look at the other side of the coin; romanticisation. This has happened a lot on social media, especially on Tumblr. Disorders such as anxiety and depression have been portrayed in such a way that would maybe compare it to receiving flowers. It’s seen as just something that everybody has. It’s seen as just something you can bond with your lover over and then it goes away.
That is a load of shit.
Having a mental health condition is often world consuming. Yes, love can be a help with recovery; both the romantic and non-romantic. However, life won’t get better until you get a form of professional help. That can be any type of professional help – whatever works for you
Now we go onto the final issue; perfectionism. I will never deny my perfectionist nature because what would be the point of that? Yet that was one of the reasons I chose to not seek professional help – even when I knew I needed it.
I’m so used to being good or naturally capable of most things that when it came to my own mind giving up on me, I just chose to ignore it. My mental health was something I could just handle, right? My natural stubbornness and my desire to be what I saw as the ‘perfect individual’ made me extremely ill; to the point where I couldn’t even see a future for myself.
My anxiety is a work in progress, and probably always will be to be fair. I am on a medication called Sertraline. I am seeing a Counsellor every week. I am attempting to personify my anxiety as that apparently helps. I’m trying to think of it like a fly or something; an absolute fucking nuisance that just always finds you.
If there’s one thing I could tell my younger self it would be to just put all my pride aside and go and get help because you’ll benefit in the long run. Sadly, I don’t have a time machine or a modified DeLorean DMC-12 so all I can do is tell you to not make my mistakes.
For anyone that has been affected by any mental health condition, here are a few websites that could be useful to you:
ThinkTwice – A mental health charity aiming to raise awareness and fight the stigma attached to mental health
YoungMinds – A mental health charity focusing on children and adolescents
Mind – A mental health charity providing information and services such as counselling in local areas
These mental-health links should not be used to self-diagnose, if you feel you have a mental-health issue please go and see a health professional