UK based plus size fashion blogger AmandaApparel gets personal about her experience with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Trigger warnings: anxiety, depression, mental health, medication. If any of these are triggering for you or this just isn't your cup of tea, maybe check out an outfit post or brand crush!
I've been trying to write this post for nearly a week. (Big thanks to those of you who commented and encouraged me to just freakin' write it over on Instagram! You guys rule!) Mental illness and mental health aren't super easy to talk about, but I really want to be open about my experiences. The blogging community has made me realise I'm not alone, and I want to contribute to that whenever and however I can. Today, my contribution is sharing my own personal experience. Please note that I can only speak for myself on this topic, and many people will have VERY different experiences than me.
Admitting that I need help
I've suspected that I had some sort of anxiety disorder and/or mental health issue for quite some time now. Several years, actually. Some loved ones have noticed that I display many symptoms of manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder. I KNOW I'm an anxious person, but I thought that was just my personality. I've always been very self conscious, had low self esteem, and am a general worrier. Recently though, the severe mood swings and anxiety have affected me daily, and have become crippling at times. With help and encouragement from my husband, I finally went to speak to the doctor to DO something about this mess.
My doctor is absolutely phenomenal. She's so kind and gentle. She's everything I needed in a doctor when I walked in the door this week. I didn't feel judged for the several times I broke down crying in her office. I didn't even feel judged for being plus size! (My blood pressure was totally normal, woo!) She recommended looking into a therapist and started me on a low dose of medication to treat both panic and anxiety. I've only been on the medication a wee while, but I'm on board and I'm optimistic!
Comic by Irma Kniivila
Depression and anxiety in my daily life
For me, depression manifests itself in a way that could be interpreted as laziness, but it's really so much more than that. Simple daily tasks like getting out of bed, having a shower, and getting dressed become serious battles. If I don't have a reason to get out of my PJs and leave the flat (ex. uni or work), I probably won't do it. If I have plans to meet with a friend, I may be likely to reschedule if I'm having a low day, because leaving the flat feels like the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Any struggle or complication suddenly feels like the end of the world, and it feels like it's my fault. It's like, my depressive brain convinces me that I'm the one and only cause behind anything negative that happens to me or to those around me.
There's such a physical element to depression as well. When things are bad, it's like I'm a boulder. I feel like I'm so DENSE and movement is just generally sore and unpleasant. It can occasionally lead to binge eating, or going an entire day without eating a single thing.
Anxiety is a hard thing to describe to anyone who hasn't experienced it on a very large scale. For me, I feel like I don't even have a comfort zone. I'm uncomfortable 100% of the time. I feel embarrassed simply by my existence, and I constantly worry what other people might think about me. This can affect how I dress (ex. I really want to wear this playsuit but it'll draw attention to myself and I don't want people to think I look stupid), how I interact in groups (ex. remaining silent and playing with my iPhone), and how I'm intimate with my husband (ex. feeling completely disinterested in intimacy, or REALLY wanting to be intimate but not being able to enjoy it).
When anxiety leads to a panic attack, it's VERY physical. It can include any combination of several awful things including: elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath, dizziness, and upset stomach. The worst for me is shortness of breath because it makes it very difficult to communicate what I need. If I can't get enough air then I can't communicate which makes it hard to remove myself from the situation.
Light at the end of the tunnel
If you feel like you are struggling with mental health, PLEASE speak to someone you trust, and book yourself an appointment to speak to a doctor about what you're experiencing. It's nothing to be embarrassed about. You need to take care of yourself, gurl! Here are some things that help help me when I'm down or particularly low.
• Scott: My husband is the biggest blessing during a panic attack or any sort of anxiety. I'm able to open up to him 100% and talking about what I'm feeling or what I'm experiencing is massively helpful.
• Friends & family: Whether it's inviting a friend to come over just to talk about what's going on, or having a friend be really cool and understanding about me needing to cancel plans, loved ones are so incredibly crucial.
• Journaling & colouring: I'm a very private person so sometimes I just don't really want to speak to anyone. When that's the case, I really enjoy writing my feelings out in my journal or unwinding with my new floral colouring book (for adults, hah!).
• Medication and therapy: This is something that's very new to me. As I shared before, I've just started taking a low dose of medication to treat both depression and anxiety. It's too hard to tell if they're doing much, but my mood swings have felt less extreme, and I feel more in control. I feel a wee bit more like myself which I'm really appreciating. Once I'm settled into uni and find a job I plan to work therapy into my schedule.
Ending the mental health stigma
Because I'm so private, this has been really difficult to share. I think it's helpful though because a ton of people are still very apprehensive and awkward about mental health. When people DO open up about depression and anxiety, the discussion seems to be dominated by those who aren't actually experiencing it. People seem to be VERY quick to voice their opinion or contribute "advice." (Note: Saying things like "You have nothing to be depressed about!" or "Just think happy thoughts! You need to be more positive" is never helpful. It's rude and disrespectful, so please be courteous.) Depression is so unbelivably common and it's nothing to be ashamed of! I hope that in the near future I can open up about this aspect of my life without fearing any sort of judgement. Until that point, I'll just keep putting myself out there and hoping for the best!
So, it's been a long winded post but it's very important to me. Thank you so much for reading and for your support during this time. You guys are sweet summer peaches!
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