Anxiety, blogging and me.


Some of you may know that I suffer from anxiety - it is not something that I am secretive about as I'm not ashamed of it but I have never particularly gone into huge detail about it because I have never felt like there was anything I particularly needed to say before.

I would describe my anxiety as long-lived, but also as something that varies hugely in degree from day to day. In general I would say that its something that I've been dealing with since I was about eight years old in one form or another and although my mum dislikes me putting a label on it I would say that my main issue is a form of OCD - obsessive thoughts that tend to revolve around certain main issues such as illness, death and feeling trapped. 

I would say that since trying various forms of treatment for my anxiety over the years ninety percent of the time my anxiety is on the backburner, I know its there but I can mostly deal with it or work through it. Occasionally though I have some very low points which often confuse the people closest to me because they are completely irrational. Some examples which spring to mind are the day that I refused to get on public transport in London because I was completely certain that otherwise a terrorist would blow it up, the weeks and sometimes months I've spent convinced that I have an incurable illness and most recently, the three weeks I spent changing my work shirt every time I had to go to the bus stop in case a man I'd had a confrontation with would come after me. I can see that these are completely irrational thoughts but the problem with my anxiety is that if I am in the grip of one of these 'delusions' its like I can see a list of pros and cons but all I can see are the cons...if that makes sense? 

The reason I am posting this now is that recently I came across something that saddened, angered and disappointed me all at once. Some of you will have come across certain forums that praise or criticise various bloggers and YouTubers and I came across one recently when somebody I follow on Twitter tweeted a link. This post isn't about those forums in themselves, which I don't really have much of an opinion on one way or another, but rather a topic that I came across when I was curiously looking through one of them. 

In essence, it seems that since a fair number of bloggers/YouTubers have spoken about having anxiety some people are convinced that these must be lies or exaggerations made up for attention or to gain hits or views. It seems that if people come across as happy and carefree on their little spaces of the internet then they must automatically be lying about suffering with mental health problems. I'm not denying that some people may lie about having a mental illness, just as I wouldn't deny that there are people who lie about having physical illnesses but why on earth should that mean that anybody who claims to have anxiety should be treated with immediate suspicion? 

Here are some of the 'justifications' I came across as to why this suspicion of certain people existed: they haven't been diagnosed by a doctor, they film YouTube videos and someone with anxiety wouldn't be able to do that, they go out loads and go to lots of events even though they said they have problems with that and I have anxiety and I wouldn't be able to do the things they do.

From my personal experience I would respond to these statements like this: I wasn't diagnosed by my doctor until I was seventeen but that doesn't mean that the feelings I had in the decade beforehand didn't exist, I am much happier filming YouTube videos than speaking in public because I control the situation. The prospect of nasty comments is not something that bothers me overly much because criticism is not something I overly panic about, I will always have at least one anxious thought before I attend any social occasion or event. Most of the time using techniques I have taught myself or been taught I am able to overcome these thoughts. Some situations will always be worse for me like huge crowded places so I tend to avoid those the most and anxiety covers a HUGE spectrum of issues. I am not a germaphobe, I don't get panicky when people are sick and I don't really have any specific phobias. I therefore do not make any judgement on people who DO have those issues. In the same vein, I perhaps show my anxiety less than someone who has had no treatment for it, but I would hope that they wouldn't judge me for that. 

I have had people say to me in the past that I don't seem like the type of person who would suffer from anxiety and I would say to anybody who believes that you can tell who has anxiety from what their personality is like that that is total bullshit. More than one in ten people in the UK are likely to have a disabling anxiety condition at some point in their life and you can draw two conclusions from that: firstly that there are likely people that you know that have anxiety and you have never realised and secondly that it isn't surprising that a fair amount of bloggers have anxiety if about ten percent of the population are estimated to suffer!

When I was younger I would have given absolutely anything to have been able to find evidence of other people who have the same thoughts and fears that I do, if you've never suffered from anxiety then perhaps you can't quite understand the feeling of intense relief that you experience when you realise that you aren't alone and that you aren't slowly losing your mind. Personally I would take a couple of people possibly exaggerating any day if it meant that I still got the posts and videos that give me a feeling of companionship when I'm having a low day. 

P.S. If you want to chat to me about the various treatments I've tried (counselling, medication, hypnotherapy and CBT) then please go ahead and email or tweet me, or if you have other questions or you just want to chat. HOWEVER, if you are suffering from anxiety or believe that you are your doctor should be your first port of call - and if they are super unhelpful then seek a second option. 

P.P.S. I'm still not entirely sure why I've written this, I think at least partly is the fact that since I've read these comments I've felt the weird need to 'justify' my anxiety and how I live with it. Unfortunately the one thing that still upsets me the most is when people are dismissive or ignorant of what anxiety is like for me and for others and I guess seeing those comments (even though they weren't aimed at me directly) just got to me.

33 comments

  1. People who dismiss anxiety as an attempt to attention seek obviously haven't seen it first hand either personally or in a friend/loved one. They don't realise that there's different forms of anxiety and doing youtube and blogs might not be daunting in the slightest yet the thought of a phone call might cause an anxiety attack... it all depends on why you are anxious but obviously some people are too ignorant to see this.

    I wish you wouldn't feel like you have to justify having anxiety, and I think talking about it on your blog could help someone who is too scared to ask for help!!

    Jade | Beauty Butterfly Blog

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    1. I totally agree! Thanks for the encouragement lovely :) xxx

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  2. I've seen a couple of comments like that too, in particular people dismissing anxiety as just being 'a bit stressed' or attention seeking. Thankfully I've never suffered from it myself but my mum does and whilst it's under control now for a while it was quite serious and it was awful for my whole family, so I can only imagine how terrible it must be for the people actually suffering from it. I think posts like this are really important to raise awareness and completely agree that the chance of the odd person exaggerating things is better than nobody ever speaking about it at all. I'm glad you had the courage to post this! xx

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    1. I'm sorry about your mum lovely glad she's feeling a bit better :) I agree 100% it's not something we want brushed under the carpet more than already! Xxx

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  3. I think my head lives in the clouds, as I've never seen any of those remarks. But they are appalling; I don't understand how people can make such judgements when they don't even know the individual? Shocking!

    I've not been diagnosed with anxiety, but I know I've had anxiety attacks at various points in my life; mainly through bullying at school, and online. And although I sit through it, keep quiet and think ''OMG'', I try to work through it on my own.

    Fair play to you Lauren for having the courage to blog and talk about it.

    Serenity of Beauty

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    1. It's not a huge thing but I've seen a fair few comments! I would say I tried to deal with everything on my own for a long time but seeing someone helped me tremendously. If you ever want to chat I'm here xxx

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  4. Well done for writing this post. It's pure ignorance on these people's behalf really, that they don't understand the ins and outs of anxiety, and the fact it varies from one person to another. Somone with high social anxiety may find making YouTube videos a big no no, whereas someone with a more specific health anxiety may be fine with them, but finds it difficult to go on long journeys. It's such a shame people aren't more educated before they speak rubbish on forums about people they've never met, and are only judging them on 10 minute videos.

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    1. I 100% agree with you, it annoys me that people try and rationalise anxiety and be like 'well you'll probably panic about this then...' the whole thing is that its irrational! xx

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  5. Anxiety can make simple things, like getting ready for the day, more difficult. You may being making excuses because of the way you feel. This could leave you feeling alienated and lonely.

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  6. I don't get why anyone would want to fake having anxiety when it's such an annoying thing to live with. Especially on the Internet where you can always portray a certain image and almost be who you want to be. Plus the Internet has always been known as a safe haven for people with anxiety as there's not the pressure of having to talk in real time so it doesn't surprise me that so many people seem to have it nowadays. I have social anxiety and had CBT for it a few months ago. It was such a relief to finally talk to someone about it properly & find out how to cope with it the right way. I often feel like I can't leave the house if my anxiety gets too bad. I try to go to blogger events but I always need a bit of dutch courage first. Sometimes I get too nervous to open emails because of it! I feel fine writing blog posts & making YouTube videos though because it's just me at home, doing everything as I want, when I want & without anyone else there. It definitely helps hearing how other people struggle with it too so I appreciate this post :) xx

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    1. I totally understand how you feel, I've always immersed myself in the internet a bit to make myself feel better so it was a bit of a shock to see some of these comments! I'm sorry to hear you've had a rough time of it lately but I'm glad CBT helped you a bit with it, it was so helpful for me as well! xx

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  7. I admire you so much for writing this, so much so I almost want to email you but because I don't wanna creep you out, i'll refrain! Recently, I've been diagnosed with mild OCD. Up to this year I was relatively ok, but my anxiety often flares up after relationship fallouts, or like last year- a car crash (although no harm occured!) this year my ocd was driving me up the wall as I was convinced I had an illness, so after several pointless doctor appointments, OCD and CBT were the answers. I'm going back to Uni soon, and I have to admit, I feel like although I've got a hold of my anxiety/most of my OCD thoughts, when you are in the grip of it- common sense is gone. So I think only people who've experienced it themselves can ever understand.

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    1. Honestly Orla, if you think it would help you to email me please please go ahead and do so, I wouldn't have posted this if I didn't want to hear from people :) I'm sorry to hear about the problems you've had but I'm glad CBT has helped a little. I wish you all the best of luck with going back to uni, make sure you have a chat with someone if you think it will affect your work at all! xxx

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  8. I think that was such an amazing post! I suffer from anxiety and depression and am sick of people saying that I don't 'act' like I have either so maybe I actually don't. No matter how much they try to raise awareness of mental health issues (and how you could have no idea someone has any!), some people still seem to be completely unaware... or maybe they're just ignorant? Either way, those comments are ridiculous xx

    D Is For...

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    1. I really feel for you, I get the 'you don't seem the type' a LOT! I hope you're doing okay at the moment regardless of some people's comments! xxx

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  9. Thank you for this post I've had OCD for years now and not a lot of people in my life understand it and can sometimes be quite cruel with the things they say not always intentionally but it still makes me feel isolated and that what im feeling is not normal. I love when people speak out about these issues because they help me they calm me and make me see I'm not going crazy! So thank you. Xxx

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    1. Its unfortunate that because its difficult to understand some people can be a little ignorant about it, I've found its quite common to be hurt by comments even when the person doesn't really mean it in a negative way - they honestly think saying 'well just stop thinking about it' or stuff like that will be helpful.

      You are 100% not abnormal and you are also not alone in what you're going through, if you ever want to email me, I'm always just at the other end of a computer xx

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  10. This is a truly inspiring post, Lauren and I applaud you for having the guts to write such a thought provoking piece.

    I hate that others generalise based on superficial views of the people around them. I find, more often than not, the worse life can be the easier it is to slap a smile on your face and pretend like everything is okay because it's harder to have to admit that there's an issue. This incessant need to break everyone and everything down to a set of rules that everyone must abide by is ridiculous, especially when no one can fit the cookie cutter description of someone typically suffering from anxiety or any other psychological hardship.

    I understand this, I used to suffer from crippling panic attacks that left me unable to breath and nervous for days or even weeks afterward. But, at school/college/uni I didn't want people delving into my personal life, so it was easier to joke around, smile, laugh. There's so much going on under the surface that people don't even realise and that's why I don't understand how people can judge others without even the slightest hint of what's happening.

    Thanks for this post. I hope you're much better now than you were, and if you did ever need to chat I'm a pretty good listener. xo

    Adrienne | Late Night Nonsense | Bloglovin'

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that you had such awful panic attacks Adrienne, they really are horrible things to experience and you can't quite understand how terrifying they can be unless you've experienced them yourself.

      I'm exactly the same as you, I find it much easier to either pretend nothings happening or just to make little jokes 'oh don't mind me I'm just having a bit of a moment!' rather than to have lengthy and emotional discussions with people which are bound to leave me upset or feeling misunderstood.

      I still have my moments, I had a huge panic attack tonight which crept up on me quite suddenly but in general I am doing much, much better than I have been in years but thank you so much for the lovely comment and I have your email if I ever have a bit of a tough time - just as you have mine!

      xxx

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  11. So sorry to hear about these comments... This is not fair! Every person is unique and deals with anxiety in a different way. And I totally agree with your post!

    I suffer from anxiety too and it freaks me out because I cannot function properly like all "normal" people. The OCD is not that bad in my case. The worse problem is being around people I don't really know (for ex. acquaintances) and new strange people (for ex. my friend's friends). I don't understand what and why this happens to me... But I feel so anxious and I don't know how to connect and get along with these people - if that makes sence.
    In those cases I would like to disappear or become invisible. I can get really nervous around people and looking angry.
    Maybe this is one of the reasons why I don't have any friends.

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    1. I'm so sad to hear this Vanja, please feel free to email me if you're ever having problems! If your anxiety is affecting you to the extent that it seems to be by this comment I really recommend you going to a doctor and seeking some form of help with it, it can really help I promise! <3 <3

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  12. It really annoys me when others are critical of people who suffer from anxiety and other similar conditions, it's difficult enough without being accused of making it up. Thank you so much for writing this post :) much love! xx

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  13. I've just seen this, but you know you can always talk to me don't you? Love you lots like majorly sugary jelly tots. <3 xxxxxxx

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  14. It is interesting that a large proportion of bloggers and YouTubers do have some form of anxiety or depression. It's not because of fakery though, probably more that diagnosis is better, the stigma of talking about is lessening, and see other bloggers talking about gives people the courage to talk about it too.
    I'm sure I've heard about studies that show higher rates of depression in those with artistic or creative traits, too.

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    1. I agree with you one hundred percent! I just hope that the judgement of some people doesn't discourage others from speaking out :) xx

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  15. Hear hear! I was recently severely judged - "I'm sorry but there's no way she's shy and suffers from anxiety when she takes photos and videos of herself and posts them online - wake up, she's taking you for a fool" - and I just think.... really?! It's incredible that in this day and age some people are still so ignorant and unaware when it comes to mental illness. It shouldn't be a taboo anymore and it's bloody awful that it still is. I was unsure whether to omit it from my PGCE application incase it would be seen that I'd be unfit to teach, it's awful.

    Love you! <3 X

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    1. <3 <3 <3 I'm so glad you're going for your PGCE regardless - proud of you!

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, it really makes my day knowing people are enjoying my blogging! I try and reply to comments as often I can but obviously sometimes life gets in the way so if you want to speak to me more directly, feel free to email me at lauren_ella@hotmail.co.uk or tweet me @laurenella_

lovelove xoxo