My Number #1 piece of advice...
Talk to Someone.
I have always been a quiet person.
Throughout school and growing up as a child, I was shy and found interacting in a social setting challenging. Even now, I have a reserved demeanour around people, be it family, friends and especially strangers.
I came out of my shell more when I had my first job and my confidence with communicating began to grow. However, I still kept all of my worries, thoughts and feelings clogged up inside of me. In my late teens and early twenties, I kept myself to myself as that is what I knew to do because I didn't think that anyone would want to listen to my problems. I thought "I am nobody special, who would care?" and "my issues are insignificant" therefore I continued to keep everything tightly locked away.
With so much layering, constant build up and no relief, I eventually lost my grip and spiralled out of control. If I could take anything from my battles over the years, I would say that the best thing I ever did was to allow myself to talk to someone about how I was struggling. For me, this wasn't anybody close to me. I had a deep-rooted belief that hiding my battles from the people closest to me would protect them and cause them less pain. I was wrong.
Instead, I researched talking therapies and first tried online communication through written emails. I, unfortunately, didn't take to the online system, as I felt that I needed a situation where back and forth conversation was inflow. I finally looked into to face to face private therapy, as I was too scared to go to my GP for help on the NHS.
After sending a very vulnerable email to a therapist in my area, I arranged a session with her and ended up being under her care for about 6 years.
I never ever thought that I would talk to professionals about the problems that I faced, but I recognised that I needed some help and that I was blind to how I would ever get better on my own. It took a lot of courage for me to take that first step in talking to someone, but as time has gone on, it has gotten easier and easier and I am now talking about things that I would never imagine I would. I have grown as a person in so many ways just because I opened up to someone.
Communication is key to moving forward and getting any form of help from other people. It doesn't even have to be through speech. I used to and still do write emails to my therapist when I find it difficult to verbalise the thoughts and feelings within me. On many occasions, I hand wrote what I was thinking and feeling and gave it to professionals, my parents and even my partner. The thing is that when you communicate, in whatever format, you experience a sense of relief. And when others are aware of what is going on for you, then they can begin to help you in whatever way you want.