I’ve decided to help raise money for this foundation because we need to start talking more about mental health and raising awareness for it around the world. People should never be afraid to speak up about what they’re going through.
Personally, my story began when I was in high school and started to notice that there was something different about me. I would constantly overthink everything far more than anyone else did, and I would find myself worrying about the most unlikely situations. The smallest and simplest of things would become a struggle for me, and I would find myself envious of everyone else around me, who made it seem like these things were so easy to do. When my exams came in the last year, I felt so anxious and worried about it all, I could barely face it.
After passing my exams, I went to college and everything seemed to be fine for the next few months. But then my sister went travelling to Australia and my brother moved to Thailand, and all the feelings of anxiety and worry that I’d had before came rushing back. I felt completely detached from my surroundings. I started taking time off college to deal with it, which would then make me worry about missing out on so much work.
I ended up going to the doctors, finally, and they diagnosed me with severe anxiety. But even though I now had a label to put to my problems, this didn’t fully put me at ease. They suggested that I went to counselling, but the waiting list was six months. So, slowly but surely, I started to manage the anxiety by myself, because I knew what it was. I did so without the help of any professionals, but regular visits to my doctor were necessary to keep my mind at ease.
I spent the rest of my time at college without anything major happening and then a year working in a local pub at home, whilst also working in a gym. I loved both my jobs, and I planned to do lots of things throughout the summer and even confirmed my offer to attend university in Manchester. I was nervous about this; I wasn’t sure if university was what I wanted to do but I knew I had to at least try.
The days up to leaving for university were filled with an intense and heightened anxiety. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I did. The anxiety stayed for a week or so, until I settled in, but once I started to make friends and learn my surroundings, it passed. Those first few months of university were some of the best times of my life. The independence of being away from home and being able to do everything myself really helped me, and though I worried that I might go back and a few things happened that threatened the balance I had created for myself, I survived.
However, I spent three weeks at home for Christmas in that first year and spent the entire time with my friends and family. When I returned to university, I did so with a positive mindset but I kept experiencing sudden bouts of anxiety that would sometimes lead to panic attacks. At first, I didn’t think much about it and thought it might be because I was simply homesick. But it didn’t go away and the symptoms kept getting worse, the panic attacks happening more frequently.
One day, it all just got too much so I came back home and went to the doctors, who diagnosed me with panic disorder along with my anxiety. They prescribed me Citalopram, which is a type of antidepressant, to help me deal with it all. I know that without the medication, I wouldn’t have been able to function and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
My life is now back on track, and I am learning how to deal with all that I have.
You can view and donate to Hannah’s fundraiser here.