Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hi blog friends!!

Two blog posts in one day aren't you lucky! Now this post is going to be about mental health as from the 11th - 17th May 2015 it is mental health awareness week, and I just want to say I am in no way saying that I know everything about mental health I just want to share my experiences with you! Now this is going to be very hard for me as I have never spoken to any of my friends or anyone really about it but I feel like I need to share this so other people might not feel so alone!

I suffer with anxiety and I know a lot of people say they suffer with this and it may seem like one of those things where people jump on the bandwagon but anxiety affects so many people whether it is just a small amount of anxiety about exams or whether you suffer to the extremes, anxiety is anxiety and should be treated with sensitivity and understanding as sometimes I don't even understand why I get anxious.

My experience with anxiety started when I was 6/7 years old and I was moving from my pre-prep school to my big prep school. At the time I obviously didn't know I was suffering with anxiety but my anxiety triggered me to start pulling out my hair as a source of comfort, it didn't matter if it hurt I would constantly pull out my hair and when my teachers and mum noticed they kept an eye on me as I would pull it out all the time non stop, I think they thought I was just nervous and I would stop as soon as I settled into school but it didn't I continued to pull out my hair whenever I felt nervous or I felt anxious about something like exams or sports matches. I left my prep school when I was 10 and started at my local secondary school which was the scariest time of my life as I was moving to a school which had 1800 students and I knew no one, I was a small fish in a very very big pond, as you can imagine this triggered my anxiety again and before I started I began to pull out not only my hair but my eyelashes as well, as the pain was more comforting than pulling out my hair and as disgusting as this sounds I would then eat them. This made my mum so angry and she thought I was doing it for attention because at one point I had about 2 eyelashes on each eye this then made me so so anxious and embarrassed because I looked so stupid and I was constantly getting sore eyes because there was nothing there to keep the dirt out. My mum took me to the doctors when I was in year 9 about it but even the doctor couldn't figure why I was doing it (which in hindsight means they were a pretty rubbish doctor haha) and that made me feel like such a freak (for lack of a better word) I was randomly pulling out my hair and eyelashes for no reason, so why couldn't I stop why couldn't I just not do it anymore I felt like such a let down, like something was wrong with me and nothing or no one could fix me, this made me feel really down and I felt like nothing was ever going to get better. The next time it got worse again was when I was about to go to university, I pulled out my whole fringe, all of my eyelashes and most of my eyebrows I had never felt this anxious about anything in my whole life I was so nervous and scared the only way to calm myself down was to pull out any kind of hair and feel a bit of pain. I finally realised that this time was different and I couldn't ever let it get this bad again so I went online and typed in my symptoms and looked for help and any advice as to what was happening to me and I came across a website about a condition called Trichotillomania where anxiety causes sufferers to pull out their facial and head hair and usually starts around age 7, as soon as I saw this, suddenly I felt like I wasn't alone so I searched and searched for more information about it and as I read more and more people's stories I began to realise I actually had something and I wasn't being silly or attention seeking. I read an article about noticing when you are about to pull and it said to keep your hands busy and your mind focused on positive good things and another about asking yourself why you are about to pull and what it will achieve as eye lashes take 4 weeks to grow so every time you pull one single eyelash you add another 4 weeks to your recovery, these tips made me want to try and change. I also found out that one of my friends from school also has the condition which made me realise I really wasn't alone, so I spoke to her and we talked about our experiences and how we are dealing with it and it made me feel so much better knowing I have someone to talk to!

I still pull now but I have stopped dramatically, at the very moment I write this my eyebrows are very thin because of all the work I had to finish for the end of second year but now it doesn't make me upset or feel alienated because I know that other people have the same condition as me. Blogging is helping me keep my hands busy as well which is something I really needed, I still suffer from anxiety and I do suffer from panic attacks I nearly had one the other day in Carphone Warehouse as I felt so anxious when I couldn't find a phone charger and I felt like everyone was looking at me and talking about me (even though the shop was completely empty) so I asked my boyfriend to leave, but back to the point I wanted to share a glimpse into my story to show you that there are so many different types of mental illnesses and it doesn't mean you're 'crazy' or 'mental' just because I have anxiety doesn't make me a different person. So I want to extend my hand to other people who not only have Trichotillomania but other anxiety related conditions and tell you that I am here if you want to talk or ask questions or whatever!

Sorry this post has been so wordy and long but this was really hard for me to write so if you want to ask any questions feel free to comment! Mental health is something that needs to be taken seriously as you never know how it affects people and for some it takes over their whole lives.

Lots of love 
Katy xxx
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