Work experience reporter Simone Groombridge, 18, talks with former St George’s School and East Kent College student Georgia Broad, 19, from Ramsgate, about dealing with anxiety during the pandemic.
Many people suffer with anxiety on a daily basis but for some, their worries are harder to control and this impacts on everyday life.
This can result in feeling restless or worried, having trouble concentrating or sleeping and experiencing dizziness and heart palpitations.
Here, I ask Georgia, who completed a two-year level 3 art and design course at East Kent College in July, about living with anxiety:
Where did you previously go to school or college?
I joined St George’s School in 2012 at the age of 12 and left in 2017 at the age of 16, after completing my GCSEs I decided to complete a level 2 Art and Design course at East Kent College in 2017. I then completed two years of a level 3 Art and design course which I finished in July this year.
What do you do now? Do you have a job or do you plan to go on to further education?
I currently have a part time job at Minster McDonalds as a crew member where I am dealing mostly with customers and helping out with simple tasks such as till work, cleaning tables and serving food for both customers eating in and taking away. I am most nervous about being around loads of people at once as well as having to deal with people since lockdown. After having a gap year, I plan to complete a three-year Fine Art course at the UAL university in 2021.
When did you realise you had anxiety? Did you notice any specific symptoms?
When I was six, I had a sudden change in my behaviour. I started becoming really clingy towards my parents, I found myself finding it hard to complete everyday tasks like going to the bathroom, sleeping at night and going to the shops with my parents. I felt this constant fear every minute of every day, I even feared that everywhere I went that my mum would leave me behind, it was like having a looming shadow hanging over you permanently. The main symptom was a constant feeling of sickness, dizziness, being light headed. As well as feeling cold and hot at the same time and having sweaty palms. I feel that most people didn’t take my anxiety seriously because children have the stereotype of being care free all the time.
Have you ever been treated differently after telling someone you suffer from anxiety? Do you feel that other people really understand it?
I definitely have. I notice the way that the person treats me, some belittle me and others treat me like a child. I sometimes find that most people believe that I cannot complete simple everyday tasks when I can. I have found that I was mostly treated differently within the education system, some of my lecturers would find my anxiety funny and when I told them that I couldn’t complete simple tasks such as give a Powerpoint presentation they wouldn’t allow me to step out and they would try and make me complete them even when I was crying from the fear.
How does this affect your everyday life? Do you find certain everyday activities more difficult than others?
I find simple things harder than other people, for example I find phone calls extremely hard. They make me very nervous and I have to set an alarm to get myself to make the call otherwise I end up stalling it for hours and I have to write a script to read to the other person. I also struggle with other things such as shopping alone. I like to have someone with me. Up until recently I had really bad anxiety whenever I was in a car even if I was just the passenger. It wasn’t until I started learning to drive that I began to cope with it better, before I started learning the anxious feeling used to take me over completely and would make me question everything that would happen within the journey. I had the same problem with public transport such as buses before the pandemic, now I find it so much easier getting on a bus knowing I don’t have to sit next to anyone. It gives me more space to breathe but having to wear a mask still makes me feel very claustrophobic.
How have you been coping with lockdown? Has it made it worse or has it been easier to cope with being inside?
At the beginning of lockdown, I felt extremely isolated from everyone and everything. I even felt isolated from my own family while living with them, I felt that my daily routine was snatched from me and I’m struggling with daily tasks more than I did before. I also feel like I’m trapped inside a prison cell and all I can do is stare at the four walls around me until I’m released again.
What kind of activities do you do to keep your anxiety at bay? If so, what are they?
I love to crochet, it’s so relaxing and helps to take my mind off of my anxiety and what I’m feeling. I also find, ironically, that going out with my friends and family helps me most, going out and having fun takes my mind off everything else, all the anxiety, all the stress and all the negatives but during the pandemic it’s been hard to go out with my friends so I’ve been trying to do more crochet as my way to relax.
Do you feel that your anxiety will ever go away?
I personally don’t feel that my anxiety will ever go away, but I think that it becomes easier to deal.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who suffers with anxiety what would it be?
I would say, don’t be so hard on yourself, take each day as it comes and don’t be afraid to open up and talk to someone about what you are going through because there are people who will help you no matter what.
- try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to
- use calming breathing exercises
- exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax
- find out how to get to sleep better
- eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
- search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS apps library
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has a wide range of leaflets on all mental disorders: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk
Seriously, excellent article on an important subject.