Ellie's Story

Through my teens I suffered a little from obsessive compulsive disorder in the form of cleaning and tidying. This was not only my room - but the rest of the house too. As you can imagine this was quite a stressful issue for myself and my family as I lived in a house with 4+ family members who were not the tidiest of individuals I must say! This issue seemed to calm down a little as I grew up, it is still hard to be around untidiness but I've learnt to neutralise it.

Then in early 2016, due to a very bad relationship ending and the stresses of university, the disorder seemed to show itself in a different form- through social anxiety. I lost a considerable amount of weight in a short period of time and I think this paired with a severe knock to my self esteem I became socially anxious about being ill in public. It's hard to explain how that felt but it was almost like claustrophobia... I felt terrified to be in places that were crowded, hot or didn't have a toilet. I got extremely nervous and anxious even at the thought of it. This was a nightmare for being at university, work or having a social life- I remember the numerous times I would leave lectures, trains and work because I was so nervous I was going to be ill in public. It sounds all very silly now but it was a very viscous cycle at the time.. the more nervous and anxious I got, the more the physical symptoms would appear such as sweating and a nervous stomach, thus going round again. I had multiple panic attacks and made myself more ill through the stress of it all. For being 21 at the time, you can imagine how angry I became at myself for not having the nerve to be comfortable in social situations, particularly with people I didn't know, males and environments involving food and alcohol. 

In terms of getting over this negative point in my life there were a number of main factors that helped me, along with small alterations that made a big difference. Firstly my family and friends of course - being social with them and talking about the issues - not only were they loving and helpful but they also opened up about their own issues. I initially went to the doctors to see what help there was that I could receive. I ended up having 5 or so sessions of hypnotherapy after being offered a free initial consultation and can honestly say it's one of the best things I've ever done. The lady I saw, Alice, was amazing; she made me feel comfortable and at ease. This, paired with the workbook she gave me, 'Thrive',  really helped me to increase my self esteem and alter my obsessive negative thought patterns. The gym, exercise classes and a healthy eating regime also played a major part. I try and workout now as many days as I can a week as it completely relaxes and de stresses me, gives me time to put my thoughts in to perspective and I also feel gives me something to control instead of food or social situations. I cannot tell you how much my confidence has grown too from this. Last year I tried to cut out alcohol as much as I could as well as I saw the negative sides - particularly the anxiety the day after. I now eat as healthy as I can and also really enjoy doing that anyway. 

I also really enjoy reading self help and theory books now, based on life improvement and self betterness. I think this really grounded me and made me realise 'I'm not the only one' and is also a reminder that there's always room for improvement . For example; 'Thrive' by Rob Kelly, 'You're a Badass' by Jen Sinclair, 'The Secret' by Rhonda Byrne, and 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle.  

Thinking back to what my life was nearly 2 years ago I feel so grateful that I've come out on the other side, I almost cannot believe that I'm the same person. I am a year into a round the world trip, so far I've travelled parts of South East Asia and Australia. (Asia in particular I never thought I would do- possibly the worst continent to worry about being ill!!) I still have days where I feel anxious or nervous but I just remind myself of the mind tricks I learnt in hyponotherapy or go and take some time to relax or workout. I also still have down days and days where I don't feel like getting out of bed and facing anyone, but through learning all of this I now feel that my brain is stronger than ever to see through these cloudy days. I feel better in my mental health than I ever have and hope this helps even just one person in their journey. Mental health should be more of an open subject to make sure that no one suffers alone. 

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