I won’t let my anxiety get the better of me
This week at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) we have been sharing our student stories to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week. In the final blog of the week Danielle talks about how her anxiety affects her and how moving away to study helped. As an RNC student ambassador Danielle now supports new and potential students, sharing her experiences of College life.
A little about me
“I’m Danielle, I’m 19 years old and I’m from Devon. My hobbies are reading, acting, travelling, learning languages, and helping others. I’m a second year student at RNC. I currently study French and Performing Arts, alongside Level 3 Braille. In September I’m either going to be staying at RNC for a third year, or I’ll be going to uni in Swansea (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David’s.) where I will be studying applied drama, which is like therapeutic theatre, and is a mixture of acting and workshop leading.
How my anxiety has affected me
I’ve always been a very anxious person. A famous childhood memory of mine was 5 year old me screaming due to… A hand dryer! As an avid reader, I also made up this big worry in my head, that I’d get sucked up the pipes like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As I grew up though, my anxiety became worse due to things like not making friends, and not being assertive.
It was often little things that scared me, like how to tell my music teacher that I had a show rehearsal so I had to miss choir. People always reassured me and I would try to be rational by asking myself; ‘What exactly am I anxious about?’ or ‘What can I do?’ or ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ When I was younger, these rational thoughts soothed my frequent worries and I dealt with them as they came.
One of my biggest problems throughout my life was making friends. I’d get involved in shows, clubs, and activities at my old mainstream school. I even gave VI (visual impairment) awareness talks. But people were often too scared of my cane to consider the fact that I’m just a normal girl who happens to have a visual impairment. I’d sit in the sixth form common room for a whole hour in plain sight, and not one person would talk to me.
I was so excited to come to RNC. My grades at mainstream sixth form weren’t as high as I’d liked, and I wanted qualifications like A Level French and Performing Arts, but in a safe and supportive place. I also really wanted some more independence, and the opportunity to get stuck in to new activities, and meet new people.
Moving to RNC
Coming to RNC, in September, 2015, was scary and exciting. In my head, due to many lonely years, I was certain I’d never make friends. But I did. I have a lovely group of friends, friends for life, who accepted and liked me for who I am, and not for who I’m not. Sadly this year many of my close friends completed their placement at RNC which took me back to square one. Unfortunately, this time, my anxiety completely got the better of me.
In September 2016, I started having severe anxiety attacks over little things like laundry, to do lists and… Nothing! Things that get me anxious are things in a list that I was too irrational to sort out, worries about simple tasks ahead like phoning the doctors surgery, and just complete meltdowns with no true cause.
Often anxiety is caused by nothing in particular. But that can make it scarier, as there’s no source of worry. However, if it wasn’t for some amazing friendships I’ve made previously at RNC, for the amazing counselling support at college, and some particularly amazing and supportive staff members here, I would not be the independent and adventurous person I am today. I still suffer from anxiety, but I now know how to handle it so that the little things don’t build up.
And remember, everyone deserves happiness, love and friendship. RNC is so supportive, there is always someone you can talk to: the nursing team, WSOs (Wellbeing Support Officers), RSOs (Residential Support Officers), PSOs (Pastoral Support Officers), Counsellors, teaching staff and of course students. Everyone is so lovely and inclusive that when you need cheering up, there’s always someone there.
Even when I leave, I’d love to mentor and support new students for years to come. RNC has changed who I am today, I’m a stronger person, with more goals and ideas for the future, and I have so much more self-belief. I’m so grateful to all who’ve helped me on my journey.
My top tips for managing anxiety are;
- Do what you can to relax; for me, books are a strong factor
- Talk to someone you trust, there is always someone out there for you.”
Some useful information about anxiety is available using the links below;
If you would like to find out more about RNC, please call us on 01432 376 621 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC