Mental Health and Me: A Personal Essay on Anxiety, Travelling and Social Media

Words: Savannah Ireland

(This is a personal essay on an individual experience of anxiety submitted by Savannah Ireland from the U.K)

Firstly I wanted to say its ok not to be ok.

Everyone has down days, days where you wake up from maybe a couple of hours sleep if you’re lucky, to nothing but darkness. You feel totally alone – even though your house may be full to the brim of loved ones – and you feel totally isolated. You can’t even gather enough strength to pull yourself out of bed, it’s like there is a concrete block weighing down on your chest with a sign in bold saying ‘You’re Not Moving’. Normal everyday tasks become impossible, you manage to talk yourself out of going to that Yoga class you’ve wanted to go to for the past 4 months with those niggling thoughts such as: “What if there’s no mats free?”, “what if the only space left is the one at the front where everyone is watching me and laughing because I don’t have a clue what I’m doing?”. You turn the smallest things into a task that becomes impossible all just from over thinking and working yourself up! This is my anxiety and it’s a horrible, horrible thing to live with.

I’ve struggled with this a lot since being home from living and travelling Australia for the last 16 months where everything was perfect; I was living the dream I’d been chasing for what felt like forever. In Australia, I finally believed I belonged somewhere, I was happy. I was offered opportunities I could only wish for and truly thought this was it. Unfortunately it wasn’t, not every story has a happy ending. I felt like I had the floor pulled away from under my feet and came crashing back down to a world full of darkness.

I feel so lost. Everyone is asking questions, “when are you getting a job?”, “what the plans now?”, “where are you travelling next?”, “don’t you think you should have bought a house by now?”. I don’t have any of the answers. It makes me want to scream; I feel so helpless and useless not knowing anything! I compare myself to this fake world of social media where everybody lives these perfect lives knowing exactly where they are supposed to go and what they want to do. Of course I’m smart enough to realize it is indeed all fake, however, we are all guilty of being sucked into that world as it’s all we look at 365 days a year. We are consumed by this rectangle piece of technology that basically tells us how happy we should be based on looks, belongings, friends, travel and experiences. These factors all just add onto us feeling terrible in ourselves, how are we supposed to function when there is this stupidly ridiculous life we all try to live up to?

All I can say is that sometimes it’s necessary to come back down to earth for a minute and realise that you’re not alone. I can guarantee every man & woman goes through a point in their life where they feel like everything is crumbling around them, whether they can recognize this is down to mental health or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s the fact we are all only human and we all have emotions. It’s just how we show them that defines us as individuals.