"My Story of Anxiety" by BBC's 'Employable Me' Nicola Golding
Hello everyone, I'm Nicola Golding, a disability and mental health blogger and vlogger.
You might have recently seen me taking part in BBC Two's second series of Employable Me, raising awareness about the issues disabled people face finding employment.
My job hunting journey has been a long one, and the show did an amazing job at highlighting the physical difficulties I encounter on a daily basis. It also showed the emotional tole five years of constant knockbacks has had on me.
My Mental Health Story
I've struggled with anxiety since I was about 10 years old, and bouts of low mood since I started studying for my GCSEs at 15. Although it's only recently that a doctor described it as depression. I don't mean to sound like I'm looking for a label, but I cannot tell you what a relief it is to finally be given a reason why I've been stuck in an almost-permanent black hole since I graduated from university in 2012.
Things have definitely spiraled for me since then in a way they never have before. Because of my cerebral palsy, people often think that certain things are impossible for me to manage until I actually prove they’re possible. Medical professionals assumed I’d need speech therapy until they heard me talk, some people thing I can’t walk without my walking frame until they see me do it. People told me I’d never get a job in journalism because of how competitive it is.
They were right about the last one.
It was the first time in my life that I haven’t been able to prove someone wrong, and it hit me hard. Really, really hard. Throw in my seemingly unbreakable habit of basing my sense of self-worth on my productivity (because people have also been quick to call me lazy) and my soul was pretty much destroyed.
Although I try to mask my anxiety as much as possible, a lot of the time I just can't. Anxiety is different for everyone, but mine manifests itself as constant worries about anything and everything all at once - especially germs.
Even though i know many of my worries are irrational, a lot of the time the thoughts are so strong that I have to ask someone 'will it be all right? Or ‘is it okay to do this?’' Sometimes more than once.
It's annoying for them, and it's certainly annoying and frustrating for me when my mind is feeling like a popcorn maker. Thankfully my family and closest friends are used to me by now and just go with it. Once I've settled down we all laugh at some of the silly things I've come out with.
I've been open about my life as a disabled person online through my blog an YouTube channel for about four years, but it took me a lot longer to find the courage to 'come out' about my mental health struggles online.
What made me finally decide to open up
At my lowest point everything felt impossible. I couldn't even sit still I was so anxious, let alone focus on anything, which only made me for anxious because of my productivity levels thing. I would just pace the house muttering to myself in an effort to try keep track of things I actually needed to do. 'Right, I'm going to go to the kitchen to make a drink, then go back upstairs and go to the loo'. I was showering at least three times a day and changing clothes just as often.
In short, I was a mess. Looking back now I think I was probably quite unwell. I went to the doctor and agreed to try antidepressants for the first time, something I'd refused until that point, but I was desperate and afraid.
During all this, my beloved blog, which had been my main focus until my spiral, fell by the wayside. I felt like I owed my readers an explanation. I wrote a post and hit publish before I could change my mind, and then made myself speak aloud to a camera and put it on YouTube. Everyone was amazing and didn't mind if I used these platforms to organise my thoughts. So now I class myself as a mental health and disability blogger/vlogger.
These days my anxiety is mostly in-check, but my depression/mood levels aren't great. I think it'll always be a balancing act for me, but I've accepted that now.
How I deal with anxiety and depression
I'm not a medical professional, and if you are struggling, I urge you to seek help from one. I've had counselling and CBT on and off since I was about 10. But these are some of the other things that help me cope:
Naps - not always possible but I find they act as a re-set button
Hot showers with nice-smelling products
Writing my to-do list on post-its - productivity levels. This helps me set a realistic number of goals.
Admitting I needed help wasn’t easy, but I’m a better off for it
Nicola Golding is a disability and mental health blogger/vlogger with cerebral palsy. She can usually be found drinking tea and talking to her pets.