The past week or so has been extremely odd, as so much has occurred in such a short time period, regarding both general life things, as well as my mental health.
First of all, I have got myself long term work experience with my local library/heritage center. What I did not expect is to be asked if as well as doing stereotypical library work experience, if I would also like to help tutor the Young Writers’ group! As many of you know, I will be beginning a BA Hons degree in English Literature in September, which I then want to use to become a secondary/ sixth form teacher, so this opportunity is great for me.
Sixth Form work wise, it is going great! What nearly made me cry last week was that on a recent parents evening, all my teachers exclaimed how proud they were of me, how much I had overachieved at my time in Sixth Form, and that I am predicted extremely good grades. Knowing that I am making people proud makes my heart flutter, especially everything I have endured over the past few months with my mental health.
Now we get onto the nitty gritty mental health bit of my highly confusing life. Not going to lie, my mental health is still not in a good place; my anxiety disorders are the cause of this. As much as CBT has been helpful in allowing me to learn more about myself, it has not been has helpful in helping me to manage my actual anxiety. So, this time last week, I decided to revisit my GP and talk about other options, which could help me manage, especially through the fast approaching exam season in May that I know will be here in a flash! I am so appreciative of how empathetic and considered my GP was today- Coping with mental health issues can be very scary, so speaking to someone who understands and listens is so important! We decided that for me to go forward and to manage the physical symptoms of my anxiety, especially my panic attacks, it would be a good idea to try Beta Blockers for at least a short term period.
What are Beta Blockers?
Beta Blockers stop the effects of different types of adrenaline, which are known to cause the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. You can read more about Beta Blockers here. Obviously, as said in the link, they are not a psychiatric medication, so only manage the physical aspects that is embedded in anxiety; hence why my GP also gave me loads of information about different organisations and ideas that can help me manage the more psychiatric aspects.(Therapies similar to CBT). The main reason that it was decided for me to not start on antidepressants is because there are many side effects involved and can take a few weeks before they start working. Furthermore, it can take several attempts to find the right balance of medication when dealing with antidepressants, so starting on a low dose of propanol instead (A type of Beta Blocker) is the best way forward for me at this moment in time and it will hopefully make life much easier for me, whilst my body figures itself out. If you had said to me a few years ago that I would get proper help for my mental health and doctors would not patronise me, I would have thought you were lying. It has taken me a lot of courage to ask for help over the past few months and I am so proud of myself that I have gone through CBT and am trying medication.
Remember that nothing works the same for everyone. Some people prefer therapy, some people prefer medication, and some people prefer both. Do what you feel is best for you- It may be a struggle at first, but if you keep talking to your GP, you WILL get help.
Please do not give up. I have so much pride for anyone who is suffering from a mental health issue. You are not weak, you’re just struggling a bit and that is perfectly okay. Mental health stigma is slowly being defeated- We still have a way to go, but we will get there and if my positive experience today is anything to go by, things are starting to change. I have been met by a large amount of negative stigma over the past few years, especially by the NHS, as many of you probably have, but I do believe that if we keep spreading awareness and being the the wonderful people we are, mental health will no longer be slammed at. Also, I know it can be easy to push away loved ones whilst you are going through a difficult period in your life. Please try not to, your mental health will be easier to manage if you have support from those around you.
Until next time!