Anxiety Okay, so I may not be bathing myself in a puddle just yet, but like so many of you reading this, I suffer with various mental health issues on a day to day basis. The feeling of isolation because you don’t know who to talk to, afraid that nobody will take you seriously. The negative feelings that wash over you time and time again making you want to curl into a ball and cry. Then there’s the labels. Crazy. Mental. Nuts. Insane. I have struggled for over ten years with Social Anxiety and Depression. This mixed disorder affects around 9.7% of the population of the United Kingdom, according to statistics from the Mental Health Foundation and is still widely under-reported. The easiest way to explain it is that our ‘fight or flight’ instinct kicks in during just about any situation, and ‘flight’ is always the more dominant option. When it starts, the first noticeable symptom is that you feel your heart start to beat rapidly. Your chest tightens as the fear starts to grip you, sweating and hyperventilating. Breathing so fast causes pins and needles in your limbs, and you feel all of your muscles weaken. That’s when the dizziness sets in, causing you to become unsteady on your feet until you eventually fall to the floor, thinking you’re having a heart attack. Thinking that your time is up. You know that you will lose consciousness very soon and when you recover, you will feel exhausted for the rest of the day, but during an attack, you lose all ability you ever had for thinking rationally. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? Now imagine an attack three or four times per day, triggered by the most insignificant things: a telephone call, a knock at the door, walking through a certain area. This is not fear in the traditional sense. You are not consciously afraid, but your body takes over pumping adrenaline through your veins as if warning you that you are about to experience another episode but you will be powerless to prevent it. Why am I telling you all this? I want to make sure that any of you experiencing anxiety or depression know that you are not alone, and that things do get better. Six months ago, my illness had me almost house-bound. I thought I would suffer anxiety forever. Now I am doing what I love at a place where I want to be. I don’t have to make excuses to stay at home when my wife takes the kids to the park. I don’t feel the need to search for answers at the bottom of a bottle like my Dad. I am living my life, as opposed to simply existing. I have no formal qualifications in Psychology, nor do I claim to be a miracle worker, but I have life experience and hopefully, my time spent writing about my experiences for this awesome newspaper and website will help raise awareness of this cruel illness, and my aim is to help a few of you overcome the obstacles and challenges associated Anxiety and Depression so that you enjoy your time here at DMU, instead of fearing it. My name is Benjamin Mark Wheldon-Thompson. I have been where you are and I am here to help. If you want to get in touch about the issues discussed here, please email me at dmuanxietyissues@outlook.com.