A story by Michael, Across the UK
What challenge does this story focus on?
I struggled to feel emotion and didn’t realise I had an illness for some time. I grew up in the Salvation Army (church) and moved around every few years, which meant I had to adapt to new people and places. Later on in life this led to a severe anxiety disorder, leading to depression. I experienced panic attacks, struggled to leave the house and avoided social gatherings. I pushed my friendship group away.
How has this challenge affected you?
I tried CBT through the NHS but this didn’t resolve anything. The real change happened when I had private therapy, this gave me a perspective around why I felt the way I did and helped a great deal as I didn’t know why I felt that way and didn’t know how to deal with it.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
I continue to go to therapy out of choice, which has really changed my life. It has given me a sense of understanding, clarity around why I felt the way I did. With hindsight, moving around meant I never felt safe anywhere, I never had a base. As a child I didn’t realise it, but it was really tough. I’ve realised I can use parts of my personality as a strength.
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
Even though I’ve been through some tough times, I can turn these things around and use them moving forward. Sometimes the anxiety is still there but I think we’re all working on something in our lives, whether small or big, and I’ve realised that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t stop learning or developing.
How do you use this learning in your life now?
I use everything I’ve been through as evidence to keep going. I’m grateful for close family and friends. I’ve realised my passion for music again which is leading me into what I want to do in the future – which is great. I’ve also found my way back to church. I feel these changes are part of a plan for my life and they have given me a real sense of strength that makes me want to carry on.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
Your struggles don’t have to be a hinderance, they can become a strength.