9 April 2017

Sit Down with Steph || Anxiety & Relationships

 My idea for a Q & A series was met with such warm and open arms. Thank you for opening up to me and letting a stranger into your thoughts, worries and hearts. I really hope that I'll be able to effectively offer you my shoulder to lean on. 

In the first weekly installment of this new series, I will be answering questions sent to me regarding anxiety and relationships. In hopes of creating a safe space, I have decided to make all the questions anonymous.

Anxiety 

 'When did you notice that you had anxiety?' - Anonymous
To pre-face my answer to this questions, I would like to say that I do not suffer from anxiety. I do have anxiety (with varying severity) in different situations- but social situations particularly. However, I would not go so far as to say that I 'suffer' from it. My anxiety, at times, definitely makes me feel uncomfortable- uncomfortable to talk to people, to ask questions and sometimes to look at people, but its never been a crippling or debilitating feeling.

As I hit puberty and entered my 'teen years', I became aware that I was more anxious when meeting new people- particularly boys (and more specifically, good-looking ones). I realized that before speaking to new people, like a shop attendant, I would sometimes rehearse over and over again what I was going to say like "just this please". 

I guess, somewhere between adolescence and becoming a young-adult, I became more sensitive to what others thought of me- the way I spoke, the way I looked or the way I dressed- which may have caused and still causes my anxieties.
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'Did your friends and family support you or did they act as though you had made it up?' -Anonymous
I've mentioned my slight anxieties to my mom, who sat with me and tried to rationalize my fears. A good tip that came from our chat was to remember that whatever interaction i'm afraid of or anxious about would only last a couple of seconds, or a couple of minutes but not a lifetime (although it may feel like it sometimes). That soothed me a lot (and still does). I don't think my friends are aware of my feelings but that's because I've never led onto it- and possibly because, physically, it never hindered me.

If your parents or friends act as if you've imagined your anxieties, my advice would be: to confide in someone else. Your parents and friends want the best for you, but that doesn't mean that they will always understand what you're going through. There is always someone who will listen to you, you just have to take some care in finding them and possibly extend yourself beyond your friendship circle. Your anxieties become easier, more manageable, when they're not yours alone.

Your anxieties are very real to you. Even if others fail to see the hold that it may have over you, does not take away or eliminate the value of what you feel. 
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'Do you think you need to get a formal diagnosis to be able to say that you have anxiety?' - Anonymous
I firmly believe that a medical diagnosis is not necessary to say that you have anxiety. If I have a cough and a runny nose, I can assume that I have some sort of flu- no doctor needed. I can make that reasonable assumption based on my symptoms, intuitions and experience. Anxiety, in my opinion, is the same.
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'What are your favourite ways to keep your anxiety in check?' -Anonymous
I think that anxiety arises from fear, nervousness and vulnerability. To keep my anxiety in check, I try to remember the root cause- fear of judgement, fear of flying in case the airplane crashes, nervousness to talk in front of a crowd (both small and large) in fear of messing up. In most instances, I remind myself that this will only take up a few moments of my life. If I'm performing or speaking to strangers, I'm always comforted by the thought that if this goes incredibly wrong, the probability of ever seeing the people in the crowd again are stacked very much in my favour.

For different people, different methods will work. You should try several mental tools each time panic or anxiety arises within you. You'll begin to figure out what works for you and what doesn't and make appropriate adaptations from there. Take a moment to step away from your situation and rationalize your feelings.
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'Do you think mental health is dealt with well, or at all, in the media currently? If not, then how can we help that?' -Anonymous
I do think that more can be done with regards to supporting, encouraging and creating an inclusive community in mainstream, traditional media platforms, like TV and traditional newspapers. There are programmes and articles on mental health but they are few and far between. Media outlets need to balance the need to sell and market their product with improving quality of life by creating awareness for issues, like mental health. The media is largely dictated by its target market, because ultimately, they have to sell papers and advertisements. If the people, the viewers and readers, show interest in topics such as mental health, it will likely become more prevalent in the media, as that is what people will be interested in reading and hearing about. It seems like people's voices need to grow louder, stronger and in unison, to be heard.

Non-traditional media, like Youtube, are more effective in dealing with mental health. Youtubers (in this example) are in direct and constant communication with their viewers who are real people to them, and hence, alter their content to offer guidance and support to those interested in their content. Positive interactions on those platforms encourage people to speak up and begin a positive and uplifting dialogue on mental health.

Relationships

'I'm currently 17 and I've never had a boyfriend. Fortunately, my friends don't care and like me for who I am. I know that it's a stupid thing to worry about and I know that having or not having a boyfriend won't change anything about myself. But still I sometimes feel bad and I feel like boys are just not interested in me. 
Right now, I have a crush on a boy with whom I am acquainted with, so I feel like it would be weird if I went up to him.
Obviously, I don't want to try too hard to get a boyfriend just to have one. I just don't get why I'm so insecure about it and it makes me made that I don't care less.'
What do you think about the whole situation?' -Anonymous
Guess what Anonymous, I'm 18 (going on 19) and I've never had a boyfriend either. I'm telling you that, not so you think I'm more unqualified to offer advice then I probably already am, but because I know exactly what you're feeling and you should realize that you're not alone. Heck, I'll take it one step further and admit that at 18, I haven't even had my first kiss. You're not as alone as you may think you are. I have many friends that are in the same boat as us.

If you've ever had a 'fling' then you know that it feels good to have someone to talk to, someone who asks how your day was and someone to send those flirtatious emojis to. It's human instinct to want to be liked, needed and desired by another human. It's as natural as water.

It's okay to care. Everyone around you could be getting into relationships, moving further and further through the bases and you feel stagnant, left behind. I felt that way. My insecurities arose because I wasn't doing what my peers were doing, so I thought that obviously something was wrong with me. I had to be different from the others. The only way to over come your insecurities is to give love a chance. Go up to your acquaintance and show him what an incredible person you are. If the feeling is mutual, you'll be natural friends and can take it from there.

A good way to become friends with your mystery man is to talk about something that you have in common- like something you both enjoy doing. I know you've done that stalking and sleuthing...we all do it. Bring up something that you've noticed about him that you enjoy too. If you're both comfortable, it will show in the ease of conversation. If things don't work out, put yourself out there by meeting new people. The more options in your dating pool, the more likely you are to find a match.

Not having a boyfriend doesn't make you less anything- less desirable, less pretty or less smart. But, you seem to already know that.

I've really enjoyed giving advice. Thank you to all of those who sent through emails with questions. If you have your own advice on these topics, please do offer it in the comments below. Round 2 will be back next Sunday. Till then, send through your questions to socialspying@gmail.com, and you'll be featured in episode 2 of this new series. Remember, your anonymity is promised. The topic is yours to decide.

Till next time-
Steph

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you're feeling up to it, follow this blog on Google Friend Connect, Bloglovin', on Instagram or Twitter. Drop me an email or a message in the Blogger Contact Form and I'll get straight back to you!

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10 comments

  1. This is such a nice series you're starting up. I really should send in a question or two to see what I get, although I feel like you covered anxiety pretty well!

    the-emo-wolverine-writes.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much, K!

      Please do send in a question. I don't mind talking about a topic again. Where ever I can be useful, I'm willing to help!

      Steph

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  2. Thank you for answering these! They've been more helpful than you can imagine! I can't wait for the rest of the series x

    Sophia xx http://sophiawhitham.co.uk

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    1. So glad that the answers helped, Sophia!

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  3. It was so nice to get to know you a bit more and you gave some really great advice here! xx Nikita

    BLOG//Jasmine Loves

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    1. I like that in answering these questions, I'm also able to open myself up more.

      Thanks so much, Nikita!

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  4. Aw this is so lovely and very comforting! For teenagers it often seems like everyone is partnered up or had (numerous) dating experiences but there are so many people that reach their twenties or even thirties that have never dated either, I only realised this once I had long left school. I turned 18 without ever having kissed anyone and it turns out that was the most normal thing in the world haha <3 anxiety is such a curse and makes it harder but will never define who you are as a person and how wonderful your personality, how incredible you are :D I can't wait to read more, following you on GFC! xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara
    (lets follow each other on bloglovin or instagram)

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    1. It's very comforting that people in their 20s and 30s could still be in the same boat as me- I hope that means that I still have a couple of years!

      I find that it's very normal to everyone else...other than the person who's going through something.

      Thanks so much for the follow! I'm heading over to your blog now.

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  5. Hi Steph! This is such a great post. Your advice is articulated so well. I love your mom's advice on feeling anxious. I'll keep that in my back pocket for the next time my anxiety creeps up on me.

    I think this is a great new series!

    xo
    Bobbi

    https://bobbihearts.blogspot.com/

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    1. A massive thank you for the comment, Bobbi.
      I really tried my best to say everything that I wanted to, in the best way possible, and to my fullest extent.

      Yay! I'm so glad you've got a helping hand in your back pocket when you need it!

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