By Camila Karalyte
In light of mental health awareness week, I thought it would be fitting to share my struggles with you lovely lot.
Anxiety and I go hand-in-hand, always with me- she’s annoyingly clingy. I’m not alone though, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental illness each year, with 8 in 100 being diagnosed with anxiety and depression each week. These numbers have only risen with the recent pandemic too.
I don’t remember a time I wasn’t anxious. I was always the ‘shy’ child at home and school, although I’ve had my gobby moments with my parents. I’d over-think to the point of wearing myself out, shaking in class when I’d have to answer a question, refusing to make eye contact.
This illness has followed me my entire life, and even now in my twenties, I still regress to that awkward child. I’d often cancel plans with friends because I felt too anxious, I’d quit jobs over the smallest things, my social battery would run out quickly. Isolating myself became a common thing because it was easier for me to handle.
With age, I have come to the understanding that my anxiety stems from insecurity. A familiar feeling for a lot of us is that we’re not good enough in many aspects of our lives. I struggled with my appearance, felt I wasn’t reaching my academic potential and couldn’t decide what I wanted from life.
I always envisioned myself going off to university, but my career aspirations regularly changed. Jumping from Astronaut to driving instructor, and everything in between, I could not figure it out. Eventually, I settled with studying English Literature and creative writing, after a stressful clearing situation on results day. English was an easy subject for me. I enjoyed it; it came naturally- so why not spend the next three years studying it?
This was where I fell in love (no, not with my ex) but with writing. University was the best experience, while I still struggled with my anxiety, meeting new people and living away from home helped me thrive. The best cure for my overthinking was sitting down and typing out an essay or creative piece, even though it was stressful at times, it was exhilarating.
Just me and my laptop; lit up poorly by my cheap fairy lights and an ABBA vinyl playing quietly in the background. Honestly, it was bliss. My worries and paranoia would melt and praise from my lecturers only secured my love for writing. Ultimately, this, and my dad’s constant ‘what are you doing with your life?’ led me to dream of becoming a writer.
How did writing help me?
I can’t describe the feeling I get while writing, but it’s close to contentment. It’s not a case of being talented and having people approve of me and my work, but it’s the world you’re in whilst writing.
Writing allows you to express yourself with such freedom, where verbally/physically it may be more difficult. You have the chance to create fantasies with words, as well as helping and informing- there are no limits.
Writing, for myself or others, provides me with purpose. Through difficult times in my life, in particular this last year, writing has given me the motivation to spread a message to readers. Have you ever read a book and felt calm, like being hugged by a friend? Well, that’s how it feels to write. When you enjoy writing as I do, it never feels like a chore.
Concerning my anxiety, writing down what I feel helps. Even now, as I write this, I feel comfortable and safe with the knowledge that I could relate to at least one person reading this. Seeing my name on a piece of published writing fills me with such satisfaction, whether many people read it or not.
Look at me now! Am I writing full time? No. Do I love the full-time job that I have? A lot, yes but writing is still my dream, one day I’ll be living it. For now, writing is my creative outlet to relieve my anxiety. Hopefully you’ll find yours.