Hello again everyone. This is a second post in the Anxiety Insight series. Chloe* is a 20 year old university student who suffers with overlapping and integrating mental illnesses which is very common for a lot of people. Here is Chloe's story...
"I thought that my anxiety started when my bulimia surfaced, but after having some counselling and learning about anxiety I realised I'd probably had it since I was 5/6. I had a bit of a turbulent home life so I thought it was normal to feel incredibly nervous and self-concious all the time. As my eating disorder and depression got worse, so did the anxiety and that's when it became a real problem because I was stuck in a toxic cycle.
Eating disorders often trigger anxiety and depression - and the three are very closely interlinked. I began to have panic attacks frequently and isolated myself. I get very shaky, short of breath, fidgety, and just in general, extremely overwhelmed. If I had a problem related to my food issues I would get incredibly anxious, but then at the same time revert to the habits of my eating disorder if I felt overwhelmed. I stopped going to college, stopped seeing friends until it became too much to handle on my own.
When it comes to dealing with my illness, I did seek help from my GP when it got really bad. After the third visit, my doctor referred me for therapy and my therapist was amazing. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) helped me deal with my illnesses and made me feel like there was hope. I also love writing, so whenever I'm anxious I try to write everything down on a piece of paper. It doesn't matter to me if it doesn't make sense, just getting everything out of my head helps me so much. My mental illnesses still affect me daily even though I consider myself to be well into recovery. I still isolate myself quite a lot when I'm anxious or low, and have the odd panic attack now and again. I get really anxious talking to new / certain types of people. Going out can be really difficult because I am so self critical and a perfectionist all the time and I am terrified of what anyone might say / think about me - my looks, behaviours, anything. It's hard to describe how consuming living with mental illness is because it does affect a huge amount of your life, but explaining it is quite hard, as those of you who suffer from a similar illness will know. I feel like I should be much stronger than I am. More 'normal' and like everyone else. But on positive days I do sit back and reflect and think "well done, you've come a long way". I'm so much better than I used to be and reminding myself of this helps a lot.
If you're reading this and you suffer with any kind of mental illness, the best thing to do is talk to someone. It's the one thing you never want to do, but make sure you reach out to the most trustworthy people in your life. Yes, I've been burned before by opening up to an exboyfriend and he started to use them against me, but my best friends have been so amazing and supportive. My advice would be to be prepared to possibly educate them a little bit on what you're suffering with as they might not actually understand it as well as they think they do. This way they can support you a lot more and understand why you are the way that you are. Also, go to your GP and ask for help is a great thing to do, as talking to a professional can do amazing things for your mental health. Because they are professionals and are there to help any illness, whether that be of mind or of body, they can help you find a way out as well as speaking to someone who won't judge you.
Finally, for anyone reading this who suffers with a mental illness, you are doing so well just by tackling a mental illness in the first place so don't be hard on yourself. "
*names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual