Hi I’m Hannah, I’m 24 years old and live in Nottingham. When it comes to emotions and how they impact on everyday life, I feel there is so much I could talk about, from how feelings affect our physical health to the time I rang 999 convinced I was having a heart attack, but no it was just anxiety.
I have suffered with anxiety and depression since I was 14 years old. It started when I was violently attacked and led to suicide attempts, an eating disorder and anger I couldn’t control.
I had always been a confident, bubbly child so, despite of my deteriorating mental health, I was keen to not lose that. In my late teens I tried to cover up how I felt by always being the centre of attention, partying every weekend and being irresponsible in every aspect of my life. However, behind closed doors I was battling crippling low moods and crying myself to sleep most nights.
In my early twenties, I was in a physically and mentally abusive relationship, which triggered flashbacks of the abuse I had suffered when I was 14. My anxiety took over and I stopped going out. In fact, by the time I was 23, I became completely housebound. Around this time, I was also diagnosed with the incurable gynaecological condition Endometriosis, which has only heightened my low moods as I am in horrendous pain most days.
During this time I really learnt how much emotions can affect us physically. Panic attacks cause me to be sick, have cold sweats, become itchy and have trouble breathing. When I’m stressed I get stomach cramps and severe migraines. In periods of really bad depression I become so fatigued I can sleep for days at a time.
Anxiety and depression has resulted in me not being able to attend college or university and now I can’t drive because of it. I have also had to completely stop working. I ran my own freelance beauty business and had to give it up after 18 months. It hurts so much that my mind has stopped me from achieving my goals in life.
However, I do have some hope. I have learnt that you can rarely stop or control negative thoughts and feelings and the best thing to do is learn how to cope with them and not allow them to take over. I now accept them but let them pass. I distract my mind with meditation, yoga, keeping in contact with family and friends and practising gratitude on a daily basis.
I am working on being kinder to myself and not punishing myself for having ‘bad days’. I am now in a really healthy, loving relationship and I hope to get back into work later this year. I really want to raise awareness of mental health and just how powerful emotions can be.
More people need to understand, that even though mental illness is invisible, it can cause physical symptoms. It is just as important as physical health, if not more.