Anxiety Buddies – feeling the fear together
The fact that their pain was too often invisible and feeling that they were suffering in silence, prompted Becky Plant and Lizzy Skipp to launch Facebook support group, Anxiety Buddies.
It offers a positive spin to people who are spiralling downhill and tells them they are not alone.“Last year I knew nothing about anxiety or depression, I thought my life was good and I was a really balanced but then last October I had an ectopic pregnancy and my partner left me and that was it, I ended up not sleeping for five days and wandering round Yarm High Street in my pyjamas,” said Becky.
“I went to the doctor and was given tablets but I wanted to investigate why this had happened and understand it. You have this breakdown and then start to become scared of the feelings so there is fear of the fear.
“When it happens you think you’re the only person in the world but when you research and research it you realise that it’s so common, I think my whole life was leading up to this point of exploding.
“People with anxiety and depression are made to feel shameful but I definitely think you can get better. I choose not to read negative stories, I read about people who have learned to overcome it and let their bodies heal themselves.”
Lizzy was friends with Becky’s sister who put the pair, who both live in Stockton, in touch and they bonded over a glass or two of wine.
Lizzy said that when she suffered a breakdown last year it probably looked to the people who weren’t close to her that she was just carrying on with life as normal.
“When I went out I was frightened of having a panic attack, I was worried about people being embarrassed around me and that they wouldn’t want to be with me so there was a two-week period when I didn’t go out of the house.”
Through medication, understanding their illness and supporting each other, both say they are much more hopeful about their futures.
They did a zip wire challenge off the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle to raise money for autism charity, Daisy Chain, and are now contemplating a skydive in aid of the mental heath charity, Mind. Lizzy has just started a three-year degree in BA Contemporary Textile Products at Cleveland College of Art and Design and Becky is aiming to become a paramedic.
Anxiety Buddies offers a supportive forum where they can share their stories, celebrate their achievements, and be spurred on with positive pictures, quotes and messages.
“When I have anxious thoughts I carry on regardless now – the busier my mind is the better, the anxiety will grab onto any tiny insecurity but I have to tell myself “just let it go”,” Becky explained. “My family and good friends love me of what I am – who cares if I have a panic attack in public?
“I am glad this happened, it’s definitely made me a stronger person and it’s made me realise that I was the world’s worst people pleaser.
“It is so common now, I can’t understand why there’s such a stigma around it, you can’t help if you have anxiety or depression but I believe you can choose to move forward.”
Lizzy added: “If I could give one piece of advice to someone who’s going through their darkest days it would be don’t give up. It’s a long journey but it does get easier. Please, please ask for help. It is hard to ask but it will be the best thing you do.”