Birth Place: Birmingham, UK
Current Location: Nottingham, UK
Occupation: MSc Mental Health Research Student
|My struggles with anxiety have probably been present for longer than I can remember. The sharp jolts when you lose your breath, the palpitations in your heart and the raising body temperature – all of the physical reactions to anxious thoughts that I am all too well familiar with. I guess my anxiety came to a head whilst I was at university. I remember one day being on the bus and feeling a surge of worry, with no pre-warning. Suddenly I lost my breath and began to panic. I had no idea what was happening to me as my heart began to race uncontrollably and I struggled to focus. In the heat of the moment I got off the bus at the next stop and walk the rest of the way, counting as I inhaled and exhaled. This was the beginning of when my anxiety began to spiral out of control. I felt as though no one had experience what I was going through and no one would understand. I was convinced that there was something wrong with me until the nurse suggested it was ‘anxiety’. I’d never thought of it as that before and it became scary to think that a disorder I had learnt so much about in my studies was becoming the reality for me. This was where my passion for raising mental health awareness began.|
The main challenge about having anxiety is trying to convince yourself that your thoughts do not possess any truth in them. That imminent fear of an unrealistic outcome – it can be hard to bring yourself back to reality with reassurance. Additionally, you always believe you are the only person dealing with it. It was easy to forget that anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders. This lead to me keeping my thoughts to myself, not wanting to burden anyone with them – feeling guilty as I knew there were people much worse off than I was. It wasn’t until a friend confided in me that she was experiencing anxiety that I felt the courage to speak about my own journey. Fast forward a year later and I began my own instablog. Lifetsylewithlee is a platform I use as a mental health advocate to educate and promote awareness of mental health and how to maintain it. My blog focuses on lifestyle changes which anyone can make to ensure that they are putting their mental health first. My blog also aims to detach the stigma associated with mental health by speaking openly about my own and others experiences. I started my blog just over 6 weeks ago and I am near 600 followers. The messages and support have been overwhelming. It is so reassuring to know that a lot of people share the same passion as I do. This is not to say that I am fully recovered – I still have my days. But when I do, I share my experience within the online community which I have immersed myself into and there is always someone who is there to sympathise or even relate with.
Personally, I believe that the only way to overcome the stigma attached to mental illness is to encourage ad promote conversation. Mental illness is a shunned topic, many prevent themselves from sharing their journey in the fear of being perceived as weak or vulnerable. But the truth is, 1 in 4 of us will be affected by mental illness at one time in our lives. That means that there are people you know, even yourself that could be affected and could be suffering in silence. However, if we encourage a society of openness and compassion we will be able to help all of those affected and ensure that the generation after us can live in a world knowing that they will not be judged for having a mental illness, just like they are not judged for having a physical illness.
Leonie on the Sustainable Development Goals
I believe that the most important goal is ‘No Poverty’. No child should be born into a life of deprivation, no family should suffer due to a corrupt government and no country should stand in poverty due to the poor decisions of their leaders or the greed of other powerful countries.
This goal could impact the world in such an efficient way, there are so many children who grow in poverty and thus lose out on the life changing opportunities that they deserve. There could be a generation of scientists, politicians and doctors unknown due to poverty limiting their progress into careers which could make the world a better place.
I would and aim to contribute towards the goal of gender equality and no discrimination