It’s been a minute since I’ve done a talk, huh? Life’s been pretty busy (in the best way!) for myself and for others, so it’s been hard to do these consistently. But I’m back! And I’m very excited for this week.
Today I’m talking to Amanda from We Are Magnetic. She has a journal-style blog where she writes about anything and everything on her mind. Let’s see what she has to say!
1) What has your mental health journey been like for you so far? You can tell us as much or as little as you like.
It’s improving, which is great, but there have been some rough points, especially as I didn’t really know that I had anxiety for a good while and when I’d tried to seek help I’d often get dismissed. I struggled to make friends as I worried about how people would perceive me and I automatically assumed that most people didn’t like me. When I had friends I’d often distance myself as I worried about what would happen if I tried to make my presence felt. As a result, my teenage years were pretty lonely. In fact, I’ve generally been hesitant to put myself out there as I was worried about the consequences. This meant I didn’t apply to the universities I wanted to and I spent a period of time struggling to find a job.
Whenever I got very stressed I’d have these huge meltdowns which involved a lot of hysterical, uncontrollable crying (I’d forgotten about those… they were not pretty!). As it wasn’t a symptom people mentioned much I didn’t really think of it as ‘anxiety,’ which is contributed to me taking a while to get help. I actually only went to my GP with the encouragement of the wellbeing adviser at my university, who thought my symptoms sounded like Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
However, this past year things have improved massively and I’m so pleased with the progress I’ve made. In my last post I reflected on everything I’d achieved in 2017 and I found I really had achieved a lot! I have a better relationship with myself, my self esteem has improved and my life doesn’t revolve around anxiety as much as it used to. That’s not to say that I don’t struggle at times- it’s still pretty difficult, but not as difficult as it has previously been.
I largely attribute that to taking medication, which I’ve actually had a positive experience with. I started taking Sertraline in December 2016 (I’m still taking it) and in that space of time I’ve really progressed and I have a much better outlook. I’d like to go to therapy in addition to taking medication, I feel like it would further help with my confidence, which I feel still needs a bit of work.
2) How do you keep yourself content day-to-day?
Making sure I have time to relax with things I enjoy. Even during the more stressful periods when I have less time to myself I’ll make sure I’ve had at least an hour (or a few) to do something I like. It cuts the worry and stress as it means I’m not actively immersed in whatever it is that’s causing me the stress, like essays or reading for my course.
3) Looking back at times you’ve struggled, what would you tell your past self to help them out?
Go to your GP. Try and find a therapist, but one who works for you. If you find one who works, do your best to stick with them, even when you feel ‘better.’ People probably don’t automatically hate you so stop believing you’re not worth their time, and if they make you feel like you’re not worth their time they’re the ones at fault, not you.
4) What are the things that make you happy, how do you pursue them, and what would you tell others who are trying to pursue what makes them happy?
I’m really into art but I’ve never studied it beyond year 9 because I was made to feel like my art wasn’t good by my teacher when I was studying it. I dropped it for GCSE and the was the end of my art studies. As soon as I dropped it as a subject I started doodling, then drawing, then painting- I couldn’t contain my creativity! So far, I’ve just been doing lots of creating, but I’m considering opening an Etsy shop, I’d really love to make and sell a few things! I’m also in the process of updating my blog and I’ve been designing a few things for it, which has been cool. I would encourage them to continue with what they enjoy and not be influenced by the negativity of others- it’s your happiness vs their (probably dumb, let’s be honest) opinion.
5) How do you take care of yourself when you’re feeling down?
This is definitely an area I struggle with. If I need to cry I let myself, it can often be really helpful. Thankfully I haven’t felt the need to cry much lately, though it was a huge part of my anxiety before I started medication. If there’s a show I really enjoy that I’m watching at the time I’ll pop that on, or I’ll watch a few YouTube videos (usually morning/evening routines etc.) Listening to upbeat music helps too- I actually have an upbeat pop playlist on Spotify for when I’m feeling down. I’ll sometimes try and push myself to go outside to town or the supermarket if I’ve been inside for too long. I might go and chat with or watch something with my mum or sister as well- sometimes it’s just a case that I’ve ended up isolating myself for too long a period of time. Sometimes I need to do something a bit more basic, like making my bed, opening the curtains, changing out of my pyjamas and giving my room a little bit of a tidy. Otherwise it’s just a case of riding it out, sometimes all that’s needed is a bit of time.
6) How has blogging contributed to your happiness?
It’s a way for me to express myself and to really focus on bringing out my true self (which I’ve struggled with because of anxiety). I also often use my blog to keep track of all the positive changes so I can maintain a positive attitude and improve my self esteem (which I majorly struggle with!). It’s a place I can be truly creative- I can write, draw, design, take photos. I’m pretty creative, so this obviously makes me very happy!
7) What inspires you, both for blogging and in your personal life?
Pictures can be really inspiring. As in, I might see a picture I like and it triggers a thought or an idea, and then I take the idea and turn it into something, perhaps a blog post or a drawing or a painting. I find words inspirational as well. I guess that’s part of why I like reading so much, as well as part of why I blog. I like what you can do with them, that you can build them in such a way that you can end up constructing a powerful, vivid image. So a well written book or a good poem can truly spark my creativity and motivation. I’m working hard at building and maintaining a positive mentality as well, so there are lots of (non-cliche) quotes and reminders that are very inspirational to me, and I’m also inspired by other who are out there who are spreading positivity and embracing their true selves. I’ve recently realised exactly how important it is to value yourself and to see your own self worth. It’s still a huge struggle and I often find myself reverting back to negativity and self hatred, but I’m pleased to say I’m doing much better than I was before!
8) How have your friends and family supported your mental health journey? What helped and what did not?
I think of all the questions this one is the most difficult to answer. My mum has been great in many respects in that she has spent a lot of time and energy helping me out during particularly bad times. She’s accompanied me to most of my doctor’s appointments (and was generally the one who encouraged me to go), and I can totally understand why she’d get frustrated at times. I do feel, however, that a lot of the time it’s not properly understood (especially by the rest of my family). I feel like they don’t always understand the limitations it can place on me and see them as weaknesses or laziness instead. I suppose this attitude arises from the stigma that (sadly) still surround mental illnesses and their symptoms. I’ve told my friends but I don’t go into it in too much detail, I don’t think it’s necessary. Recently one of my friends did ask how I was doing with my anxiety, which was nice. Luckily I’ve had no adverse responses from anyone I’ve told about my anxiety- that’s certainly reassuring!
9) What are your goals for the future, both for yourself and your blog? How do you go about achieving those goals?
I’d love to graduate with a 2.1. Beyond that, I’d really like to find a job that I enjoy, not that I know what that is yet! I’ve been trying my best to work as hard as I can on my degree, I’m pleased to say I’ve done well so far- here’s hoping I keep it up! I should seek more support from my university as I’ve been finding my work very tiring and stressful lately, especially having four essay deadlines at the same time. I’m currently working on updating my blog, I guess I just want it to look a bit nicer and to let my style shine through. I’d also like to have more people read my blog and to connect with other bloggers. I’ve been using Twitter to do this, it’s helped me out a fair bit!
10) What makes you feel most alive?
New experiences are always cool- that’s one of the most exciting parts of life in my opinion. There’s so much out there and when you add a new discovery or experience to your list it’s an excellent reminder of all the potential life has to be so beautiful and vivid. I think this is especially true of travelling, which is why I love it so much (I honestly wish I had the money to travel more often!). You become immersed in another place, a new environment, where culture and daily life is different- there’s so much you can learn. It’s exciting to see how life plays out for others in a different context. I love music too. Unfortunately I’m not particularly gifted in the music department, but I love listening and appreciating the results of other people’s’ talents. There’s something magical about the way all the instruments and vocals come together along. A good book is very powerful- t’s the ultimate escape from reality!
If you want to see more from Amanda, check out her social media:
* Note: I know, I know. I jumped from Happy Talk #20 to #23 in my last talk. That’s because #23 had been queued for a little bit, and #21 and #22 ended up falling through. So let’s just roll with it (;