Saturday, 4 June 2016

Mind | How Mind Helped Me

Mind is a charity that solely focuses on not only spreading awareness and advice for those surrounded by mental illness, but empowers those who suffer from illness of the mind. For me, the first time I approached Mind was two years ago when I started to to question my mental health. I read through the information sheets on the different mental illnesses that affect people and realised a lot of the signs and symptoms listed on the link titled "anxiety and panic attacks" correlated with my personality, emotions and behaviour.  Back then, I didn't think much more of it and didn't return to the website until a year later when my illness started to develop and change aspects of my life that I didn't want it to.

 I had already been diagnosed with anxiety and had ended up in A&E after a panic attack and had been medicated to sedate me so I know I needed to educate myself on what was going on. Funnily enough, when my GP told me he thought I had anxiety, I did no research as I thought I knew it all (typical student nurse). I already knew I was the perfectly painted picture of what anxiety would look like in human form but never even considered having a panic disorder too. The doctor in A&E mentioned panic attacks and the morning after my trip to hospital (which was the day of being signed off sick), I googled 'panic attacks' and was redirected to the Mind website. At this point, I reached out to Mind for advice and answers. 
What was wrong with me? Why was my body doing this? Why me? Why now? How can I stop it? When will it go away? 

Of course, I learnt more from that website than I ever had in my two hour lecture on mental health and Mind wrote the information in such a way that I lost possession of all the negative attachments I'd linked to these mental illnesses I'd suddenly been diagnosed with, even just for a few minutes. The first paragraph on anxiety on the Mind website is this:

"Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It incorporates both the emotions and the physical sensations we might experience when we are worried or nervous about something. Although we usually find it unpleasant, anxiety is related to the fight or flight’ response – our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened."

For me, even this first paragraph allowed me to feel somewhat normal. The fight or flight response was normal. The word normal was within that paragraph. I wasn't crazy. The information was subcategorised into sections focusing on the different questions I had. There was a section on why it happens, a section on how to treat it. 

The best bit about the website for me is the links it offered to videos, podcasts and blog posts, on personal experiences people have with their mental illness. Sitting in front of my laptop reading a story about a girl who's anxiety controlled her life at university made me feel like I wasn't alone. It was like I was reading all the words I wanted to scream. In a world where people assume anxiety is being 'scared for no reason', there were people out there just like me. 

Mind gave me the confidence to open up to people closest to me. It allowed me to simply send them the link to the information surrounding anxiety and panic disorder so my loved ones could read and educate themselves before asking me questions I was afraid to answer. Mind sets it out so their webpage is not difficult to navigate around, the information is not full of medical terminology that floats straight over your head. It's simple, easy to read material that allows for further research if needed and that's amazing. At the beginning of it all, I was very embarrassed about my illnesses and Mind gave me the power to be able to be strong and feel somewhat normal. I still refer back to Mind when I feel like I have an unanswered question and Mind is always the website I recommend to people who come to me for help and advice. If anything, Mind gave me the courage to start talking openly about my mental health and the passion to empower others to be honest and accepting of the way that they are, no matter how difficult it may be. 

Here's the link to Mind website and all web pages I have discussed above. I hope Mind can be as much help for you and your family and friends as it was for me.

Love Luce xo 

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