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  • Sam

Mental Health Awareness Week 23


Anxiety presents itself in many ways. Not all anxiety is bad, but even the good anxieties can be overstimulating. May 15th to 21st is Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 with the theme being anxiety.

There are a variety of methods that can help to alleviate anxiety traits. What I feel is really important is if someone decided to go down the medical route, they need to be understood on a human level. Often, people can find it difficult to decide what the best option is for them. This can be said for the neurodiverse community in particular, as some clinical options such as CBT can be a challenge as articulating their mood is not easy at the best of times.

Accessing what I feel the right support may be is really difficult for me, as I am not confident advocating for myself. It isn’t easy speaking to a complete stranger either- though everyone is a stranger at first I guess. It is actually describing the struggles faced which is the biggest issue for someone like me. Whether an individual I could decide to reach out to is a medical professional or not, I could be inundated with solutions to my problems. But nobody can see which solutions are actually realistic because unless you have a neurodivergent profile yourself, it can be hard to understand how these will be interpreted.

Quite often I feel like my thoughts or feelings don’t make sense to me, so articulating them effectively to someone else can be a challenge. Now, of course, everyone would probably tell me otherwise, because if not, the conversation wouldn’t go anywhere. But there are times when I just want to have my feelings validated and be told that I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes, just because people may have more life experience, doesn’t mean that they would be right about something. This is why any therapeutic solutions need to be neurodivergent-friendly if we are going to change how we support those impacted by anxiety.

Going through therapy myself was a challenging experience, and being at a younger age, I didn’t have as much understanding of where I was going or what “support” I truly needed at the time. I think I just wanted someone who could relate to my issues without telling me the things that they believed would fix me.

This is why my way of dealing with anxiety is not to talk about how I feel but to do practical things that help me to lessen the impact anxiety has on me. I have been playing a sport which has boomed in the UK called Pickleball, which I find very enjoyable. I also love to go on daily walks, and I love to read books about real-life things. This helps me to understand different feelings I have, and to understand which environments I feel provide for me that kind of antidote to anxiety that therapy didn’t. I feel I have discovered different sides of myself through engaging in sports again, and I feel I am learning to accept each part of myself and my neurodivergent profile via reading a variety of self-help books.

Another huge thing that is helping me, is reframing my thoughts. I read a book about this a few years back. And it is helping me in a professional context also to think about what talents I have rather than my lack of life experience, who I am as a person and what my values are, and the experiences I do have which have helped me to be at my best. All of these elements are things which I feel can provide a different solution to help someone to loosen the hold the anxiety demons can have.

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