Every Friday I will be highlighting an invisible illness, we all know they exist but exactly how much do we know about these conditions and the people who suffer from them? I myself have an invisible condition and it is very easy for people to assume that because I look OK and I walk,talk and act OK that I am fine when quite often this is far from the truth.
Please could you introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself. What you enjoy doing.
– Hiya! I’m Kayleigh, i’m 29 and live in the beautiful Cotswolds with my Fiancé Luke and our little girl Freya who will be 3 in May! As well as being mummy to our little monkey I work part time as a beauty therapist and have worked within the beauty industry for almost 10 years! I enjoy country walks, family days out, reading, anything beauty related and blogging about family life, lifestyle and beauty.
What is your invisible illness?
– I have a Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
When did you first notice your symptoms?
– I first started to notice that something wasn’t quite right in my mid teens, around 14/15. I remember one night in particular I was just laying In bed, unable to sleep and out of the blue I began to feel really agitated, tight chested and feeling like i was struggling to breathe, I was terrified. I didn’t have a clue what was happening at the time but that was when I experienced my first anxiety/panic attack. Looking back I can see how Symptoms was building up to that attack but of course back then I had never experienced anything like it and had no idea what it was.
What was it like getting diagnosed?
– I tried to hide my anxiety and symptoms for a very long time before seeking help simply because I had no idea what was happening to me and I was just so scared. I suppose I was just hoping it would go away but unfortunately that wasn’t the case and the anxiety just got worse. It became so overwhelming I eventually just broke down in tears one day whilst talking to my mum who then contacted my Doctor.
It took many Doctors visits, counselling sessions and a great deal of time until I was finally diagnosed with a Generalised Anxiety Disorder. During that time I just felt confused, scared and frustrated but I had so much support from the many doctors, other professionals and my close family and of course Luke and that really helped me through. It was tough but I remember it being such a relief when I finally opened up about how I was struggling, it was the first step to understanding my condition and learning to control it.
How does it affect your day to day life?
– Over the years I’ve learnt ways in which i can have more control over the anxiety however it does still flare up at times and it can affect you in so many different ways. During those more difficult times I feel I am constantly on edge, agitated and irritable, it affects my moods and it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the nagging anxieties which pop up out of nowhere, it can make me feel quite low. Simple everyday things become more difficult, popping to the shops for example can be completely overwhelming and throughout the day i’ll have waves of anxiety which becomes both mentally and physically draining.
Do people treat you differently because of your illness?
– I think unless you have experienced it yourself any type of mental illness can be very hard to understand, It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve become more open about my experiences and struggles with my mental health. I wouldn’t say I’m treated differently but I would say that people do find it hard to understand and uncomfortable to talk about and at times I do feel it gets ignored and because it is mostly an invisible condition that it’s almost not as important or just not as much of a problem.
What advice would you give to somebody else suffering from your condition or perhaps to somebody who may have symptoms?
– My advice would be that it’s incredibly important to find someone that you can talk to. It can be a family member, friend, loved one, work colleague, GP or organisation etc just find someone you can open up to and if you haven’t already please, please do ask for help. There is help out there and people that truly understand, you are not alone and it’s so important to know that. I also found a lot of support from online communities especially during my diagnoses, finding others that had similar experiences was very helpful for me.
Do you know of any good groups or organisations of support for people with your illness?
– Both Heads together and Mind are fabulous organisations that work tirelessly to break the stigma of mental health illness and provide a huge amount of support for all who have experienced or who are struggling with their mental health
What are your goals for the future?
– Very good question! There’s so much I want to do! In the next few years we would like to add to our little family and move to our forever home. I want to continue to build on my skills as both a beauty therapist and blogger. I want to work on building my up my confidence and putting myself out there a bit more, meet with friends more, I want to learn something new, be more creative and finally get around to passing my driving test and I really really want to run the London Marathon for mental health awareness!
You can follow Kayleighs blog at :
Thank you Kayleigh for sharing your story with us, Something you said really rang true with me because you said unless you suffer from Mental Health problems you would struggle to understand and this is very true. I find it hard to put myself in the position of someone with mental health problems despite being around somebody who suffers severely everyday. I still struggle to fully understand things now. Thank you again Kayleigh for speaking to me.