Monday 30 January 2017

Why I’m not afraid to be open about my anxiety

Severina writes about her anxiety, and explains how speaking up showed her the courage she never knew she had.                                                 
                                                                                                        -  Severina Berry

I suffer from anxiety and have done so for the past 3 years. While there’s certainly been times where it’s felt overwhelming, I can’t ignore the voice and determination that managing anxiety has brought out in me.

Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people, and of those who do suffer, 9 out of 10 face stigma and discrimination. I never really spoke openly about suffering from anxiety until I saw other bloggers talking about their own mental health issues. It gave me the courage to speak up about my personal struggles with anxiety, in the hope of raising awareness of what it’s like to suffer from a mental illness.

There are a number of reasons why I now speak openly about my mental health.

Receiving support
Bottling things up and keeping difficult emotions to yourself can often make the situation worse. I found that speaking about my anxiety and being honest allowed me to receive the help and support I needed. It was daunting but ultimately, it helped so much. If talking to a medical professional seems overwhelming, try speaking to a parent, family member or someone you trust first.  They’ll be there to support you.

Educating others
There’s a lot of unwelcome stigma surrounding mental health.  I speak openly about my anxiety to raise awareness, and to reduce misconceptions that people might have about mental health. By speaking out I want to educate others on what it’s like to live with anxiety and how it can affect my day to day life. An open dialogue will help end the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. 

Helping others
I want to help others who may be going through a similar situation to mine.  I hope people who read what I write find comfort in what I say. I want to send out the message that there are people who understand what you’re going through and its okay. Most importantly, I want people to know that they’re not alone in what they’re going through.

I’m no longer afraid speak openly about suffering from anxiety. Seeing the voice it has brought out in me and looking back over the pieces I have written, I feel extremely proud of myself. I have come a long way and I’m now stronger and braver than I was before. After so long, I’ve finally found the courage to say that everything will be ok in the end.

Don’t let your mental illness define who you are, because it doesn’t. Don’t be afraid of suffering from a mental illness. Don’t be afraid of seeking help for your mental illness. Let it give you the strength and the determination to overcome your mental illness - it may not be easy but it certainly is possible!

Want to talk to a friend about their mental health, but don't know how? Visit our Look After Your Mate guide for tips to help you start the conversation.

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