My name is Jonny ward or the anxious fireman on Twitter (@jonnyward21).
About two years ago I was fine, absolutely fine, confident, self assured, resilient. But underneath that my mind was bubbling.
I was stressed from work, organising things and life in general. There had been some ill health in a couple of close family members and life was becoming harder. I had also been to some particularly nasty incidents at work. I didn't realise how much these things were affecting me so I just carried on.
I started having heart palpitations, both during the day but mostly at night whilst I was trying to sleep. I did what most men would do, I ignored them. I say I ignored them but what I actually did was massively over think and worry about them without telling anyone.
I started to worry more and more that my physical health was deteriorating when it was really my mental health. There is a history of health anxiety in the family and it was now my turn. I started taking myself to A and E only to be told nothing was wrong.
I convinced myself something was wrong to the point I started withdrawing from anything physical. This was especially hard to do with my job so work was becoming worrying. The more I worried the worse the palpitations, or panic attacks became. As they got worse I became more withdrawn from everyday life.
I started to avoid my normal activities like the gym, the pub, seeing friends as I didn't want to have a panic attack in front of them. They caused me to sweat, feel very uncomfortable, giddy and just want to leave the situation.
My personal hygiene, fitness, sleep and normal happy go lucky attitude were all suffering. I found it hard to go to work, leave the house or go on holiday.
Then I caught myself drinking to calm myself down. It was this point I new something had to be done. I saw the doctor, who prescribed me medication and put me onto a cbt course with the NHS. I contacted mind who offered me counselling. I also started meditation and gradually reintroducing myself to my old life one step at a time.
It was a long process but gradually I got better. As I got better the palpitations stopped and my stressed state calmed. I slowly but surely returned to my old self.
Almost anyway, I don't think I will ever be my old self again, nor would I want to be. I'm 30 now, but in my early twenties would have been someone who thought mental illness was not a real thing. I know now that it is the most lonely, frightening illnesses anyone can go through.
But for all the dark, withdrawn days I spent in bed just hiding from the world. There has come a brighter way at looking at the world. I understand myself more, my triggers, my mind. I am also much more understanding, compassionate and willing to listen to people who are suffering.
In a way in glad it happened, it was rubbish, but I'm glad it happened. I always wanted to experience life and all it has to offer. I know now that means experiencing the darker side of it.
The best advice I can give anyone, whatever you feel, admit it. Don't shy away, allow yourself to feel and understand it. Don't fear your emotions, they are just your reaction to the world around you. They are normal.
My best to you all,
Connect with Jonny:
Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton - From Fame to Prostitution to Advocacy
Hall of Fame Basketball Star Chamique Holdsclaw on Mental Resilience
Diana Nightingale on her husband Earl Nightingale's Principles for Mental Health Success
JoAnn Buttaro on Date Rape & PTSD Survival
Story: Its Never Too Late
Gabe Howard on BiPolar Advocacy
Phil Fulmer on Teen Suicide
Prison, Bipolar and Mania with Andy Behrman
Columbia Univeristy's Dr. Rynn on OCD