Elin is a keen yogi, doodler, and reader by night. By day she works in financial services in London.
She’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our research. This is her story:
During my time at Cardiff University, I felt low, anxious, and withdrawn. I would avoid communal areas until I was sure there was no one there.
A friend encouraged me to seek support.
I contacted Student Health and Wellbeing and attended an initial consultation. At the age of 21 I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
The counsellor outlined the negative feedback loop that perpetuated my anxiety, which included the cyclical interaction of my thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and behaviours.
For example, I would think, “My new flatmates won’t like me”, this would make me feel self-conscious, whilst socialising my mind would go blank and I would tense up. I would regularly escape or seek to avoid social situations.
As a result of my social avoidance, I didn’t bond with my flatmates, and so my own biases were reinforced.
The CBT framework enabled me to realise that my thoughts were assumptions, not based on fact.
Social anxiety can be isolating, confusing, and exhausting, so merely being aware of the disorder was a huge relief.
I have always been comfortable and chatty around close friends, but for a long time, my anxiety limited my ability to interact with new people.
Upon reflection, I realise my mental health problems probably began in my teens. I wish I’d had the knowledge then to identify my feelings and thought processes.
I experienced searing loneliness when I moved to London after graduating, so my anxiety flared again.
I started CBT again, and I was eventually prescribed antidepressant medication.
Gradually, my symptoms improved, and I felt more able to start making positive changes in my life.
For some time, I have felt stable and much more optimistic.
To regulate my thoughts and emotions I now prioritise yoga, mindfulness, and creative hobbies. I enjoy meeting new people and trying new things whenever I can. Every day I try to do something that I enjoy.
Mental health affects us all, just as physical health does.
The work that NCMH is doing is vital in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
If you’ve got this far, please consider taking part in the NCMH’s online survey today and helping them make a difference.