When I was 16 years old, my anxiety was the worst it had been, which is understandable given that year 11 was my final year of secondary school and I had a lot of exam stress. I was able to tolerate my anxiety within school, as I was simply under the assumption that my heightened anxiety was just because of my exams. After completing my exams, I was still feeling anxiety, even though I had nothing to be anxious about. This became a tiring period of my life because I was constantly overthinking, especially about my future and where I was going after secondary school.
During the summer, I went on the National Citizen Service (NCS), which is essentially a program aimed at secondary school leavers to experience different things. The program itself included a week trip away to various places within the UK, for me it was the Lake District. This experience was eye opening and definitely helped shape the person I am today, I learnt a lot especially how to deal with mental health through mindfulness, which I shall go into more detail within another blog post. My experience was sometimes negatively affected by my anxiety, yet I had an important realisation. I knew that I could not completely “cure” my anxiety, as this would be impossible, so I learned that I could live alongside my anxiety and accept it as part of myself. My issues before were that I put too much pressure on myself to eliminate my anxiety completely, which inherently meant that I was disheartened when my attempt to subdue my emotions proved futile. I learned a lot during the summer of 2016, especially on NCS as this was my first proper trip away from home. This program helped me to better understand how to cope with my anxiety, and my team leader gave me the confidence to open up about my feelings.
Dealing with anxiety is no easy task because there is no easy solution that works for everyone, rather it takes a certain amount of introspection to better understand how you are feeling. We are all unique individuals, so whilst we all experience the emotions in similar ways, we all have different triggers and various solutions that may affect us. Anxiety becomes particularly tricky to understand because it can sometimes be unpredictable, with no apparent logic. This causes distress because we overthink more because of the fact that we cannot understand why we are feeling anxious, or how to make it stop. Sometimes it can feel embarrassing because you’re feeling nervous and anxious in situations that are perfectly normal, which in turn can cause you to doubt your own mentality and your own strength. It is important that we represent mental health issues correctly and work towards removing the stigma.