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Player Stories: How I Tackle Mental Health

Chapter IV

I want to help others step forward

I’m 33 years old – but the health of my mind doesn’t care for my age, gender identity, sexual orientation, what I’ve achieved, or simply who I am. 

I first was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder in early 2019. This is something I cannot and will not let define me. It’s there. I manage it – sometimes badly and sometimes incredibly well – and I should give myself more credit for that. 

Throughout 2018, the signs appeared that I was struggling between panic attacks and anxiety, but we never knew what it was. I received multiple ECGs thinking something was wrong with my heart and had been ultimately medivacked from my place of work at sea when my symptoms overcame me. I was having heart attack-like symptoms like anxiety into panic, exhaustion, chest and arm pains, body shaking and extreme low mood.  I could catastrophise, overthink, over-excuse, or feel incapable. My symptoms may be like yours or they could be different.

When I was going through this, I spoke up, loudly, whilst understanding what was going on. This drew in the most amazing support from family, friends and colleagues. Speaking about my thoughts and feelings helped me to cope, and still does, and lets me help others to step forward. By helping ourselves and others, we’re beginning to generate a solid support network.

Today, I work with my GP, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and support from those I’m open with. I’ve learned it’s important to be ok with asking for help. I don’t always need the help but I now know resources are there for me to tap into. I have found that, being kind and aware that if someone doesn’t respond well to what’s going on with you, they typically have something going on with them / don’t fully understand. That’s ok.

I keep my world simple, and my routine achievable. Exercise. Distraction. Podcasts. I find being aware of negative thoughts, journaling and giving my thoughts and feelings a different perspective is helpful.

The first day I joined Aberdeen Taexali, was a huge milestone in my constant journey of self- care/growth and part of my coping strategy. I am triggered by the unknown. Yet, that’s one day that I pushed myself into that zone. My anxiety was able to be used in a positive way for the first time in years. I used it to train, meet new people, burn that additional energy that builds and I felt like I was “me” again.  It genuinely is the best decision I made which is something that I will keep in mind when simple triggers begin to affect me throughout my day.