Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Guest post- Katie's experience

I have a special post today, kindly written for me by Katie from oh to feel pretty (thank you Katie :)). Do wander across and check out her blog for all sorts of helpful tips and tricks and beautiful looks from the world of budget beauty :). As part of mh awareness week I wanted to share some different perspectives than just me babbling, so over to Katie:

So Katie asked me to write a guest post for her during MH Awareness week and I was more than happy to help out. I'm Katie (another one!) and I blog over at Oh to Feel Prretty though I don't often talk about mental health there and it's great to be able to share a little more of myself.The theme of MHAW this year  is anxiety. First things first I want to make it clear i have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (I have an ED & depression) but I do struggle with anxiety around some things, mostly related to social situations outside of ED related anxiety with food and eating around others which is a seperate issie altogether. I struggle meeting new people, talking to them or going into new situations.Trying to get me to talk at first has been likened to getting blood out of a stone! This is just general social anxiety, and something I'm sure a lot of people can relate to (especially fellow introverts) but as you can imagine it can cause some significant problems when it comes to things like work and school. I never made any real friends in University in part down to anxiety - I was too scared to go out and try new things or even talk to new people in groups or labs. Even with low level problems like mine it can be easy to slip into unhealthy coping mechanisms. Alcohol is something a lot of people use to cope with social anxiety, it's something I do myself, as just that first couple of drinks can give you that added boost to get out and do new things and to get you talking. I know that's how things work for me, with a drink I can talk to people. However there are a few pretty big downsides to this. For starters, no one wants to be around a drunk all the time, and drunken talkativeness is nothing like normal conversation - you say things you never really wanted to and you can make a total fool of yourself. And more importantly alcohol is addictive, and addictions are serious things. Not something you want to find yourself struggling with. I also use things like cigarettes to cope, and if I'm not then I isolate myself. None of which are good.I've been looking into other ways of challenging my social anxiety, without unhealthy coping mechanisms, one of which is to just push myself. This can backfire, but sometimes it helps (and I almost always have an escape plan - an excuse to swiftly exit any social engagement). Asylum, a Supernatural convention, is one way I've challenged myself to try and do new things. Granted I do drink when I'm there, but last year I successfully travelled to London alone and even talked to people sober (after talking to them drunk the night before). This year at the con I will be stewarding, another way to push myself and do things sober. The con is a massive thing, starting with small steps might be better for you. Go to an event with a friend and challenge yourself to talk to one stranger, its a great starting point and you have backup there to help.Sorry this wasn't such a helpful post, but I hope it gave you some insight into low level social anxiety and maybe if you struggle with these things you'll be able to challenge yourself too.