Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Mental Health Awareness Week '14

If you didn't know already, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the focus this year is on anxiety. We all have a mental health as well as a physical health, and there is no doubt when I say that there will an occasion where we have all experienced a degree of anxiety. Whether it's starting a new job, sitting an an exam or when facing longer issues such as financial or health problems.

However, for some people, anxiety is a problem which they battle everyday. I am lucky enough to say that anxiety isn't a daily problem for me any more, but it is definitely something that gets tangled up with an eating disorder. 

For me, I think my eating disorder developed as a way of coping with the anxiety which resulted from events in my life. My obsession with numbers, food, losing weight and the scales was a way of distracting myself from the real world. It gave my mind something else to think about and do! It was ridiculous way of coping with anxiety, but hey, shit happens. 

The more I became consumed by my eating disorder, anxiety then manifests in other ways. For example, when someone suggests going out for a meal, having no 'safe' food in the house or not being able to continuously weigh yourself. At one point, this would cause extreme panic and severe anxiety. Turns out that coping mechanism which initially worked, was actually a crap (and very dangerous!) coping mechanism.

Now, I think one aspect of recovery is learning how to manage anxiety safely. It's about developing new coping mechanisms that actually work and it's about learning how to reduce anxiety. After a lot of work and perseverance, some (and eventually all) of those anxiety provoking things, cause no anxiety at all.

I am not the biggest mental health campaigner but I know one thing for sure. The more we talk about mental health, the more chance we have of reducing stigma and actually recovering properly. By analysing how anxiety gets caught up with any mental illness, we can begin the first steps to detangling it all, and start living our lives again without the torture that mental illness brings. 

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