Z. B. | Interview 3
What Mental health do you struggle with?
And how long have you had it?
Well it first started second year of GCSEs, so year 11. How old would I be then? I think it was 16 because it started after my birthday, I remember that. This is so funny now when I think back at it but, um, well basically it was the World Book Day thing so we got to dress up, like I was so excited, I got my Harry Potter gear ready for that day. I woke up that day and I was already feeling quite ill. I didn’t know was it was, I wasn’t feeling 100%. I knew I was excited, and then, I think it got to third lesson in the day, I was sticking out very well actually, and then, I stood outside the door and I just couldn’t breathe. That’s all I could think, “I can’t breathe” or “I think I’m going to die right now” and “I don’t know how to breathe right now”. My friend took me to the teacher and I was telling her I honestly can’t breathe and I was crying at that point freaking out. The teacher was like, usually I wouldn’t believe students and say they’re making things up but because I know you, this is actually serious. And I was like the fact that you say that, you think students are making this sort of thing up in the first place is wrong. Then she told me she thought I was having a panic attack and I was like are you sure because I feel like I’m dying right now and there’s no way else to explain it. That’s how I had my first panic attack. I went to the doctor and the doctor just asked me stupid questions honestly, and said, “It's your first one so we won’t do anything about it” and “I think that you’re just stressed about school and stuff”. The doctor didn’t help at all, he just completely ignored the fact that I was having a panic attack. It was horrible. It was a horrible experience. I felt alone. I don’t think I’d ever felt so alone even though I was surrounded by people.
How do you deal with your anxiety now?
Honestly, most of the time it’s by ignoring it, pushing it back and finding something to numb [it], like a distraction. Music, for me, works. When I’m feeling anxious at home, I pick up my guitar and play some Taylor Swift songs. I don’t think it’s dealing with it if you’re ignoring it. Finding a distraction, is that dealing with it? I feel like the moment I stop playing, it gets too much again and I’m like, “is it going to go away” and then there’s just thoughts of stuff I know I shouldn’t zone in on, I just constantly think about them. It’s actually weird, I get anxious about things that have happened already and things that I can’t change, but for some reason that makes me so anxious. Good thing it’s been a while since I’ve last had a panic attack, that was last year August , so it has been a while. I mean, I’ve been close, but I haven’t had one.
What is the one thing or things you may regret about your experience and the way you did things, looking back on it?
I don’t think I regret anything because I didn’t know any better at the time, so when I look back and think “do I regret this decision”, sometimes I do say that but then I’m like, I didn’t know any better. That’s a way of consoling myself, “how were going to know how things were going to turn out”, like you don’t know. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of things I regret but I tend to stay away from that thought because that thought of regret, I think it definitely make me anxious too and I think “oh I could have done this differently” but then I’m like I can’t go back and change it. And then I start overthinking it, like why didn’t I do that and then I start beating myself up about things so I don’t like to look back at things and I so regret this decision. There’s definitely things I could have done better but I didn’t know any better.
Looking on your experience with anxiety, is there something you’re trying to do to help yourself?
I think I’m still trying to learn to look at it, I feel like I do need to confront it at some point but right now I’m not ready and I don’t not regret confronting it in the past because I don’t think I was ready then. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready, but right now, ignoring is what works best for me. Thinking about it stresses me out basically so it’s not a place I want to be in my head, It’s not a part of my head I want to enter at the moment, I just want to stay away from it because I know the thoughts are not good on it.
What advice would you give to others who may be in a similar situation to you who either have someone they could talk to or not, what are the things you would go and tell them to do? Would you recommend ChildLine or Samaritans?
I mean you can try seeking out someone, like go to a professional. But I don’t know if I would want that to be said to me, “go to a professional”. Yes, definitely speak to someone. The more anonymous the better, it just depends on what you feel comfortable with of course but I definitely feel its easier to talk to someone I don’t know at all about my feelings. When I speak to certain family members, they’re like “you can beat it, why are you thinking about it in that way”, like “these thoughts are just temporary” but hearing that from family, it’s like they’re just ignoring the fact that you’re actually having the feelings and they’re like “oh you can overcome these feelings right now, you can do it” but I don’t think the ‘right now’ thing works, it takes time. It’s not going to be a two-second thing where you tell me not to feel this stuff and I stop feeling them. You have to actually help me work through the feelings. So definitely find someone that will help you work through the feeling rather than just tell you to get over them.