By Niamh Webb O'Rourke

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

For Real.

Over the last few weeks I have been contemplating writing this post or not, as I generally hate discussing my private life here but after falling ill with the flu the last few days and being less active on social media, I felt it was only right that I shared a huge part of me with you all. If you look at my blog, my Instagram or my Snapchat, you would definitely look at me and think that I have everything planned out and know exactly where I am going with my life. You may think that I get everything I want and also live the happiest life imaginable, but behind my big grin and curly blonde locks, is a young 20 year old girl, still trying to figure out where she fits in and find her feet. Very few people know this about me and only the closest people to me know how badly I struggle with it, but seen as Mental Health Awareness is being promoted hugely at the moment, I felt now was the right time to share my story. 

Growing up I was always the bubbly girl, the one that was always up for a laugh, that loved being in the limelight performing to people, the one who you could call at any time of the day or night and would be immediately ready to go somewhere in a heart beat, but over the course of the last 2ish years, that fun-loving girl has left me. Maybe it has been because I was growing up and facing the real-world or maybe it is because I let myself become tied up with the tiniest little problem, but somewhere along those lines I changed. Nowadays, 99% of the time you will find me sitting in my bedroom on my laptop or just sitting there staring into space. And the reason for this? It is Anxiety! Over the past while people have been throwing the word "Anxiety" around or even the slightest chance that you might suffer from your mental health your automatically considered an outcast or a weirdo, someone that just needs to get over themselves, but little do people know that at least 1 in 8 people suffer from Anxiety here in Ireland - it is an issue a lot more common than people realise. 

As little as 2 Months ago I wouldn't have been able to even discuss this with people, let alone on my blog but I am trying to clear my head and not let the tiniest things take over my life and hopefully me discussing my journey will inspire someone else to seek help. There has been a lot of contributions to my anxiety worsening over the past few years, the loss of my Grandfather which was the first big loss I ever encountered in my life, the general struggle of growing up and also the decision to take a different path after my second level education with constant doubts that I was doing the right thing. The smallest little thing can trigger an attack, and they can creep up on you at the most unexpected times in unexpected places, and dealing with them is the most difficult thing of all. My main problem is "Social Anxiety" as I cannot stand crowds, which is far from the girl growing up who always wanted to be the centre of attention whatever the situation may be. I find even going into a crowded store a struggle and confining myself into an elevator is a big no no! I constantly feel on edge in big crowds or even in a large group and honestly feel like every single person in judging me. Now you may be thinking, you have a blog? You put yourself out there on Social Media? How can this effect you? But what I think people may forget that behind the photos, behind the outfit posts, behind that camera lens is a girl building up a wall hoping that no one will ever be able to tear it down. 

In my short life of 20 years to date and especially over the last 2 years I have had to face many things some 20 year olds would not even consider thinking about and yet others have faced obstacles a 100 times worse. I have seen different sides to a personal business and the struggle to keep it viable. I have lived through not knowing if a family member could escape their mental anguish or were they going to allow it take over them. All of these things played a huge part on the continual mental pain I was experiencing. I became the definition of an Introvert, and am very rarely seen outside my front door besides for work. I absolutely despised going out and to some point I still do, but if it wasn't for some truly incredible friends forcing me out of my shell, I know for a fact I would be a hundred times worse than I am now. It came to a stage that to enjoy a night out, I literally had to try make myself oblivious to my surroundings which is not the ideal way to live your life. Lately I have been pushing myself to socialise more and to try live a normal 20 year old life and I have to say without the help of some amazing friends, I know I would not have been able to. I was, and still am living in the "What if's?" instead of the moment but that is something I am working on.

Social Anxiety can prevent and take away from a lot of amazing experiences in your life. On my recent trip to London Fashion Week which was the absolute experience of a lifetime, there was always that doubting voice in the back of mind telling me to get out of this crowded situation, that an attack could bounce at any stage - the Underground Tube was my worst enemy and I had never wanted to be in the comfort of my bedroom walls as much as I did then. I have said No to a lot of things that I should have said Yes to for fear that an attack could happen at any stage. Going to bed at night is the worst as your mind is literally racing at a 1000 miles per hour and is reliving ever memory you have tried to forget. I now try to read ever night to tire my mind out along with swaying my thoughts away from myself. I also find that in some ways Social Media has a hugely negative impact on our Mental Health. I spend 99% of my time indoors on either Facebook, Instagram etc that I can vaguely remember the last time I went out to enjoy fresh air. Despite the fact I hope my future career will be based around Social Media, I do feel a bigger push on activities outside should be enforced in everyones lives, the difference a brisk 5 minute walk can make to your Mental Health is phenomenal. 

I am not writing this post for sympathy as I am sure that there is a lot of people out there reading this experiencing the very same feelings. And I know that I am in a much better situation than others but I am writing this post to show people that "It is okay not to be okay" whatever your walks of life. The issue of Mental Health is brushed off far too much in todays society but just because you can't see the damage it is doing like a physical injury would, just remember that the pain and hurt is still there. I struggle every single day with my Anxiety and a lot of the time it closes me off from the people I am closest to. I haven't gone out and seeked professional help but it is all a process taking one step at a time. I am dealing with it my own way and trying to control it and not allow it control me. Everything is a learning process and one day I will be able to deal with my Anxiety and not allow it to stop me chasing my dreams. I am in the midst of a dark tunnel but I can see the bright lights at the end, I am just going to take one step at a time to reach it. I have incredibly big dreams and I plan on chasing every single one of them, life is too short not to follow them. I am beyond blessed to have an amazing family especially my parents around me, along with an incredible close knit of friends who I know I can turn too whenever I need to. I am also blessed to have my blog, for the simple fact that writing how I feel down or simply writing up a post takes me out of my head for awhile, before reality sets back in. No matter what you are going through, whether it is a Mental Health Problem or just a rough patch in your life just remember there is always someone to turn too, and always someone willing to help. Breaking off the first piece of that wall you have built up is the hardest, but just keep knocking at it and the rest will fall down in one swoop. Your health really is your wealth!

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