Anxiety is something that I believe everyone suffers from at some point in their lives. Some may feel tension, dread, fear and other anxious feelings, but the majority of anxious feeling passes for many. Unfortunately, I experience anxiety at a high level, it was officially diagnosed in 2014, but I believe I have been living with it since childhood. Anxiety has affected my life. It prevented me from starting my teaching career for many, many years. It was only in early 2014, I decided that it couldn’t prevent my chosen career anymore. I went to the doctors and they prescribed me some medication to help me through. My anxiety presents itself in many ways- I can have a feeling of dread, fear, tightness in my chest, heart palpitations, panic attacks but the main physical symptom is a racing heartbeat even when I’m resting. The doctor explained that my body is always in fight mode. I am on medication to slow down the heartbeat which does make me feel less anxious. It doesn’t fully take it away though. Worrying thoughts and dread are still present, but I’m learning to rationalise more which helps.
I am now a newly qualified primary school teacher. I have my anxious moments, sure. It is a stressful career. Yet, teaching somewhat levels me out. I don’t know how or why, but I am less anxious around children. Standing in front of a class doesn’t phase me at all. It’s my happy place. I believe a lot of teaching is acting. I’m not really ‘me’ when I teach, so anxiety doesn’t affect me.
I do suffer from low self esteem as well as anxiety. I always think negatively, I can’t help it. I imagine the worst that could happen and then when it doesn’t, it makes me feel better. I know this isn’t a healthy way to think, but I can’t help it. It’s my mindset, and I’m trying to change it. I remember the feedback of one of my first teaching observations from my tutor at university…She asked how it went and I told her ‘it wasn’t my finest moment’… yet she had graded me with the highest mark I could get. Yep. No confidence in myself whatsoever. I still insist now that I didn’t deserve that grade despite people telling me otherwise. I can’t bring myself to believe it at all, which is sad. I hope, in time, I’m going to believe in myself more.
I decided to write this post for Luna’s Diversity Month because I believe that we need to be talking about mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it. So many people hide the fact that they have mental health problems. I know I did, for years on end. We need to speak about it more so those that don’t suffer from a mental illness have an idea of what it’s like for those of us that do. As for those that do suffer from mental illnessses, I hope speaking about it helps you to know that you’re not alone. Mental illness is often stigmatised. Just because you can’t see it does not mean that it doesn’t exist. It exists and it affects so many people. I recognise that it is hard to understand if you haven’t suffered from it, but please try and find some empathy for those that have to deal with it on a day to day basis.
Anxiety is an extremely common mental health problem. However, I believe it is very misunderstood. I don’t always see it represented brilliantly in books. I’m still on the search for an amazing book that understands anxiety, so I try to read widely around the topic. I have to say Matt Haig’s ‘Reasons To Be Alive‘ is a raw account of depression and anxiety and is well worth taking a look at!
Thanks to Luna, for allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts on anxiety! It’s been very therapeutic!
Some websites recs from Chrissi:
- http://www.mind.org.uk/ < a good charity
- http://thequietplaceproject.com/thethoughtsroom/ < a place to type in your worries and see them move into stars. Good for a vent sometimes.
- http://www.calm.com/ <relaxing music and lovely images.
Chrissi Reads is full of book reviews, Top Ten lists, collaborations and much more besides. She loves reading YA, adult fiction, contemporary and has recently got into YA Fantasy! In her other life, Chrissi is a newly qualified primary school teacher and is loving the job-moulding little ones into fellow bookworms!
Are there any coping methods you have that you feel comfortable sharing?
Everyone handles their anxiety in different ways, I find it really useful to try and focus on deep breathing, and counting my breaths. Not always easy, but it helps. If I can slow my breathing down I try to rationalise and think about why I’m anxious. What can I do to help myself? What’s the worst that can happen? It’s almost like giving myself a little pep talk. Music sometimes helps as a distraction, so does reading after an attack to calm myself down and focus my mind elsewhere. I try to be as organised as I can be in work situations to prevent anxiety.
Do you have any books you’d recommend that you feel deal with anxiety / mental illness well?
For anxiety? Unfortunately not, I don’t think the books I’ve read so far have been an accurate representation of anxiety.However, there are some good books out there around mental illness. I have recommended some books here: chrissireads.book-recs-which-represent-mental-illnesses
What’s your view on diversity and publishing?
I believe that the book world is becoming more diverse and I’m grateful for that. I would love this to continue and that more and more books will be published which represent diversity. Also I’d LOVE a decent book which represents anxiety in a much more relatable way.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a massive thank you once again for Diversity Month Luna. Looking forward to reading the posts. Let’s keep talking and sharing diverse books!