First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to Lorna for allowing me take part in this blog post.
So, my name is Josh and I am 22. I believe I have been suffering from anxiety for ten years now, however I only realised I had it in 2016. When I was 13 I had a breakdown in school because I felt alone and I keep getting bullied, my teachers asked me to do counselling and I refused. In 2011 I kept breaking down about my grandad’s death which was in 2001 but I didn’t understand why. When I went to college in 2013 I was very quiet and felt isolated, my lecturer asked me to do counselling, again I refused. I tried talking to my parents but it was hard for them to understand. I didn’t even understand.
2016 was the year of hell. My two-year-old sister was diagnosed with a brain tumour which was cancerous and had to face a year of chemotherapy. My mum was pregnant with my 7th sibling, sadly the baby died when my mum was full term, it was the hospital’s fault. On top of that, I had back problems, I broke my toe so I was on crutches for six weeks and my girlfriend who I just brought a house with left me for someone else. Then, my two-year-old sister, had more tumours return and was rushed to America to have life-saving treatment.
When I found out my sister had cancer my whole world felt like it was falling apart, then when my baby sister died, apart of me died. For weeks I would wake up screaming, panicking, struggling to breathe because I kept seeing her face. I would be afraid to go to work, afraid to do anything. I remember it felt like I was having a heart attack like I was going to die. I didn’t know why I didn’t understand. I kept messing up at work, I kept breaking down at work. So I called a free on the phone counsellor and spoke about my problems. This is something I would never have done before but I felt like I had no other option. I arranged to see a counsellor face to face to help me. During my first session, I was told I had anxiety and was suffering from trauma. At this point, I had a girlfriend and I felt weak, I wanted to be there for her and not for myself when in fact I needed to be there for me. When my girlfriend and I went through our rough patch I felt so alone, I couldn’t handle anything so I was signed off work for two weeks. When my girlfriend left me I told my family about my anxiety. This was a good decision. They were there to comfort me and support me, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I had great friends, one friend called Charlie was always on the other end of the phone when I needed him.
After a few months went by I decided to start a Twitter profile (@UnitedAs1Voice), a Youtube channel and a blog. This is where I speak to people every night about anxiety and I share tips to help others. I take herbal products such as rescue remedy pastilles, I drink herbal tea, I have a stress ball, I try to exercise and I still do counselling.
I do still feel like we live in a stereotypical world where the guy has to be strong, has to be there for other people etc. This causes a lot of pressure on individuals like me. I wanted to be there for people but I needed to be there for myself in order to help other people. I don’t feel weak for having anxiety, in fact, I feel stronger than ever.
Thank you so much to Josh for writing this! He also made a video that you can check out here