Wednesday, 2 December 2015

You're not alone!

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of taking part in a 5k Santa run (well walk in most of our cases) around Media City in Manchester with some of the Anxiety UK team, my whole family, boyfriend and dog Toby.

The evening beforehand my social anxiety had kicked in, worrying I would make an idiot of myself, the dog would smell food and run off or everyone would laugh at my dyspraxic awkward duck gait moves- to name just a few. My boyfriend joked the irony of being anxious before an event to raise awareness of anxiety.  

But how wrong could my anxiety be, I honestly don't think I have laughed and smiled so much in ages and I felt so relaxed. Around the course I was able to talk about my  own experiences something which I find quite difficult and was met with empathy and understanding, and listening to others stories and experiences made me feel less alone and that others had experienced similar to me. We even all did a #highfiveforanxiety photo to show others that they aren't alone.  I also found out one of the volunteers at the charity is dyspraxic and I was able to pass some of my knowledge on so the charity could support her better in the workplace. As for Toby I've never seem him have so many photos taken of him in his life, he was loving all the fuss and attention which all lead to awareness of the charity and the cause. A day later I even had the courage to face up to one of my fears and find other ways of managing my mental well being better. I discovered from the team the Headspace App which uses mindful meditation to be used on the go or at home, I can't wait to start trying it.

As the festive season is approaching I think it's important to remember that not everyone finds the build up easy. There is more crowds everywhere, in shopping centres, in bars and restaurants, on public transport, social pressures of gatherings and works dos and Christmas Parties and everything is a lot busier. It is also a time when those studying have a lot more work to do and there is a lot of pressure put on. So it's understandable for those who struggle with anxiety or other mental health struggles, or those with dyspraxia and/or sensory processing issues it to feel overwhelmed. Anxiety Warrior a blogger on Twitter has wrote a blog- Anxiously Festive to help those who struggle around this time of year, as someone who does I really recommend you give it a read:

It is also the time of year when the Dyspraxia Foundation launch their "Hats on for Christmas" appeal, again is a campaign where you see others photos across social media you feel less alone. Being able to go to Dyspraxia Foundation events over the last few years and speaking to others via the various Facebook groups set up to discuss dyspraxia and dyslexia has helped me see that there are adults with dyspraxia who find day to day tasks that others take for granted difficult or parents of children who've experienced similar and I find that there is so much empathy. The main reason for me writing these blogs is for others to not feel alone.

Living with a hidden difference/disability and or a mental health condition can make you feel isolated and lonely, but it's important to remember that you don't have to be an expert to help someone feel not alone, the little things can make a huge difference. Difference, disability and mental health shouldn't be something to be scared of taking about and not a taboo subject. Sometimes we have to put the phone down, turn the laptop off stand back and look around and see how much difference there is out there in the world, every person you see is fighting some kind of battle visible or not, if we all go out of our way every day to show a bit of empathy and kindness it really helps people feel not alone.

If you are struggling there are people who can help, here are a few useful phone numbers with an understanding ear at the other end,:
Anxiety Uk: 08444 775 774 or e-mail
Mind: 0300 123 3393 or e-mail
Dyspraxia Foundation Helpline: 01462 454986
Samaritans: 116 123

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