This is the second in a series of blogs, which aim to show you what it’s like to suffer from these mental illnesses, raw and unfiltered, straight from guest bloggers who suffer from these issues.

I’ve written and deleted this post more times than I’d like to count. My heart rate is rising and my chest is tightening – why? Because I have anxiety.

Anxiety is relentless and cruel. It’s there constantly, whether at a low background level or taking centre stage. It’s there when I wake in the morning; stomach churning, thoughts racing. It’s there when I go to bed. It’s about anxious dreams and nightmares, it’s in waking moments and flashbacks. It’s the nagging worry in my mind, it’s the heavy weight on my chest, and it’s the thing that rules my life.

I’d like to say it’s not always been this way, but since diagnosis at the age of 13 – I can look back and see anxiety throughout the whole of my young childhood. It’s not always been this bad, there have been times of relative normality, but it’s never gone away. And at bad times like now, like the past 2 years, it’s ever constant, ever real and it feels never-ending.

It’s so difficult to explain to someone just what living with anxiety is like. There are the relentless thoughts; do I look okay, did I say the right thing, did I do something wrong, does that person really like me. There’s the dreaded worry, the what ifs, the should haves. There are panic attacks which last for hours, leaving you exhausted and shaking. There are physical feelings which never seem to really leave – nausea, muscle tension, exhaustion.

Anxiety is its own worst enemy. The physical feelings of anxiety and panic make you panic more, and then the initial cause of anxiety isn’t the problem – it’s the panic and physical anxiety that’s the problem. This makes it particularly difficult to cope with, and at times it feels like there’s nothing that can help break the vicious cycle of anxiety and panic.

There is hope though, it’s tough to say that at a difficult time – but there is always hope. The best thing you can do for your anxiety is to own it. To admit that it’s anxiety and to help yourself to overcome it. There is help out there, I’ve had a lot of counselling over the past 10 years, which although doesn’t look like it’s helped much – it definitely has. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be really helpful too, as can just talking about what it is that you’re finding difficult with someone close to you.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, don’t be ashamed – it’s scary and it can be so difficult to cope with, but remember that it doesn’t make you any less of a person. Underneath the anxious thoughts and the struggles of life, you are still you. Keep fighting the monster, keep battling through and keep being you.

Suffering from anxiety? We’re right here behind you. Come join our Peer support group if you want a fantastic group of people to talk to, and know you’re never alone.