Overcoming shadows: the value of support

May 15, 2024

Photo by Fetraniaina Anatii Killahr Pexels

Miri Tilden discusses mental health and the benefit of asking for help

I’ve always experienced feelings of anxiety in my day-to-day life. I didn’t understand that some people don’t feel like this all the time. Not everyone experiences a constriction in their chest when they have to do something simple like getting on public transport. Not everyone has tears prickling at the edges of their eyes when they have to talk in front of a group of people.

When I became a teenager, it got worse, as things like this often do. And then we went into lockdown and despite being stuck in my house all day every day, my anxiety became absolutely crippling.

My two cats, who had always been therapy animals for me, both died and my mental health deteriorated. Lockdown ended, and I could hardly bear to go outside. I began skipping school, isolating myself from my friends. I hardly felt able to get out of bed.

Anxiety consumed my entire life. It dictated everything I did or, more often, what I didn’t do. In the summer, after lockdown ended, my parents came to talk to me, united, which was unusual, since they aren’t often in the same room together. They told me that they wanted to help me which started with an GP appointment.

With the right support and by being more active, I finally emerged from my hole, feeling mentally lighter

I resented everyone involved in my life at the time but, looking back, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever had to do. After several conversations with me and then with my parents, the doctor diagnosed me, a few weeks later, with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and I was put on medication.

Getting support from my family and friends and a diagnosis of course does not necessarily work for everyone or even straight away, but honestly my life is transformed. I felt as if I’d been living in a hole but now I could finally emerge into a lighter world. I went back to school full time. I started my GCSEs and struggled with them but managed to get through.

As I gradually felt better, I found myself capable of doing more. Just moving around more made me feel lighter. I travelled to the airport and got on a plane without too much stress. I opened up about everything to the people around me, who were all incredibly understanding. It’s amazing how feeling better can start a cycle of feeling stronger and happier. Now, when I have bad moments, I know my friends are right there to talk to.

Naturally, this has not been some kind of miracle instantaneous cure. I still get anxious. I’m still trying to work on myself, but when I look back at how I felt this time three years ago, the change has been astonishing.

You can check out these helplines for support:

Miri is currently studying English Literature, French and Drama at Woodhouse College. In her spare time, she enjoys writing short stories, reading, and watching films. She wants to go on to study Film and English Literature at university.

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