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My Mental Health Journey: Part 1

6th July 2020

I suppose I should start this by introducing myself and tell you why I’m writing this blog. Hello, my name is Amy, I’m Co-Founder and part owner of The Scent Shop. I’m 27 years old and I struggle with anxiety almost on a daily basis.

I intend on being brutally honest in these blogs, I’m going to share the good, the bad and the ugly. I think this is the only way it’s going to help me. So be prepared for some truths!

I’ve decided to document my mental health journey more for myself than for anyone else, I’m hoping that it will be cathartic and help me compartmentalise my emotions and deal with them in a better way. If other people read this and I help someone else too, that’s just a bonus in my eyes. More than anything, if my blogs do get read, I want people out there who are going through mental health issues to know that they aren’t alone in what they’re going through, I take comfort in that even at my lowest points. To know that if I feel alone, I’m not alone in feeling that way.

Let me tell you about my anxiety, it’s taken me a while to understand it and I’m still not sure that I fully get where it comes from but I’m trying to understand it better every day so that I can deal with my emotions in a way that doesn’t prevent me from living my life.

It comes in 2 parts, the first stems from Emetophobia (the fear of being/feeling sick), I would move heaven and earth if it meant I never had to feel or be sick in my life ever again. I know that no one enjoys that sensation but for me, it can be crippling. I go through good and bad phases with this aspect of my anxiety. At my lowest, I was six and a half stone and wouldn’t eat food outside of my house because I was so scared that it would make me vomit. I wouldn’t try any news foods, and you could forget drinking alcohol. These days my phobia comes and goes but I’m much better at dealing with it, at the end of the day if I’m going to be sick, there’s no stopping it!

The second aspect of my anxiety stems from a diagnosis of IBS about 2 years ago. Ironically, IBS can be triggered by stress and anxiety! This is a terrible, vicious circle when some of your anxiety stems from your IBS which is then triggered by me stressing about an IBS flare up! Since the beginning of 2020, my anxiety has reached a new level and I’ve decided that I want to take back control of my life and not let my anxieties stop me from doing what I want to do.

There have been a few things that have happened in the last months that have led me to where I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing. The first being it has started to interfere with my career. For a long time I’ve been able to push through and not let my anxieties come into the workplace, or if I did start to feel anxious I have been able to deal with it. I ended up in tears in my manager’s office shortly after Christmas and decided to try and help myself. I began meditating, eating healthier, exercising and went to my GP for a referral to the mental health team.

Then the pandemic happened and if you’re anything like me, it was heaven! I was being told to stay in my home, not go anywhere, not eat out (still a source of anxiety!) and not see anyone but the people you live with! I found that because I was in my safe little bubble, I became lax in all the good things that I’d started. But now lockdown is starting to ease and I’ve found that I want to go out, I want to create amazing memories, I want to be able to plan my wedding without a horrible pit in the bottom of my stomach but I’ve got a long way to go.

The second breaking point for me was finding a bald spot in my hair in May 2020. I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this. I immediately went off to the doctors praying that it was something physical and after having everything tested, it turns out that stress and anxiety has created a bald spot the size of a plum on the side of my head. Thankfully, it’s hidden by the hair on top of my head but I’m very conscious of this missing chunk of hair!

I’m grateful that I have an amazing support network around me. My amazing fiance has done nothing but support me, push me out of my comfort zone when I’ve needed it and cuddled me when I’ve had a panic attack after being stuck in traffic worrying ‘getting caught short’ and needing to take a sh*t in a bush (yes, I had this panic attack!). My anxiety hasn’t been all bad, it’s brought me closer to my mum. We’ve had a complicated relationship for a long time and when I opened up to her, she told me she struggles with anxiety too. The sense of relief I felt after speaking to her and truly understanding how I felt, how that wave in your chest makes you want to run away and hide forever, still brings me to tears. I’d be a complete recluse if it wasn’t for these 2 people in my life.

So I’m going to write this blog, for as long as it takes. I’m going to write down my journey to a better version of myself. I’m terrified of what I know I need to do, to face these feelings head on but I want to do it. I don’t want my life, and the decisions I make to be ruled by my anxieties. They might never go away but if I can deal with them then I’ll be content in myself.

The date today is the 6th July 2020 and this is the start of my mental health journey.

Until next time,

Amy x

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