Friday, 1 July 2011

Nivea and Dealing with Agoraphobia

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that NIVEA had launched a new campaign alongside ex-Big Brother Psychologist Geoff Beattie, and following on from my blog the other day looking at my issues with agoraphobia, I wanted to highlight how important it is to spend physical time with loved ones, whether that's you other half, your mum, your brother, or your best friend. And it really is more important that a lot of us realise, so I'm really glad that Nivea are using their 100 Year anniversary to support bringing people back together.

Agoraphobia is a mental issue that tends to go unnoticed. People who suffer from it, are branded as "freaks" by those who aren't sympathetic to the impact of it, and it really can prevent people from living the healthy lives that had once had.

Scientific evidence shows that those of us who spend time interacting with people face-to-face are less likely to have mental health issues, such as agoraphobia or sociophobia. And people who don't interact regularly, are more likely to feel lonely and isolated.

As someone who has suffered from agoraphobia, and still does to some extent, I know that it's really difficult to do, but it's important to force yourself to meet up with people outside of your home. It's awful at first, but with practice you'll get used to it.

As a verging agoraphobic, it took a lot of courage the other day, to get me to go to the Surgery, to make a Doctor's appointment. That might sound weird, but that's something that I have to live with every day. It does have a huge effect on my life, in more ways than I'd care to admit.

So how am I dealing with it?

I have two methods of dealing with my agoraphobia. One is a good method, but the second is really bad.

I'll start with the bad:

I deal with it, with food. Food is comforting, and it's something that as we all know too well, boosts the happy hormones in our bodies for a little while. But, that happiness only lasts a short while, and inevitably I have put on a lot of weight over the past couple of years.

And onto the good:

I try to see my Mum at least once a fortnight, but typically it's once a week. It gets me out of the flat, and it gets me interacting, not only with my mum, but also people such as sales assistants. Of course, people in general make me really nervous, but just making the effort makes a big difference, and I get exercise.

How are Nivea Encouraging Us to Feel Closer?

As I mentioned in my last post, Nivea are running a million moments of closeness campaign, and are encouraging all of us to spend time with our loved ones, and taking photographs of us being closer than ever in order to win a variety of prizes. And if that isn't a good enough reason to takes steps to tackle any anxieties, I don't know what is.

Here are my tips to taking those first steps to conquering any anxieties that you might have:

1. Arrange to meet up with family and friends, somewhere that is close to you, and that you can get to easily.

2. Make sure that you get out of the house/flat at least once a day. This is VERY scary, and I haven't quite mastered this one myself yet, but even if it's just a (very) quick walk around the block, that you slowly build up to a walk to the shop, and then a shop that is further away, it will (hopefully) get easier. If it helps, write something down that you can aim on to purchase.

3. If you are invited out somewhere, even if you really don't want to go, for whatever reason, force yourself to commit to it. I promise you that it will not be as bad as all the things that are running through your head, because our imagination is much more interesting than real life ;)

4. Chatting to people online such as Twitter does not have to be a lonely thing. If you find a connection with someone that you talk to about a common interest, why not meet up with them, in a safe but public place? They probably know you better than you realise, and are probably incredibly understanding to your anxiety. In fact, the chances are that they're feeling exactly the same way.

5. Take part in Nivea's Feel Closer Roadshow, because you could get yourself a great little goodie bag, and I dunno about you, but free stuff is always nice.

I'd love to know how others cope with their feelings of anxiety. For me, it's sometimes easier to just hide away from them, but it's important to realise that anxiety makes me who I am, and I need to deal with it, not hide from it :)

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  1. Not even checked google reader yet, saw you tweeted it and dedicated it to me and exclaimed outloud how sweet that was. Obviously had to come over and check it out! <3

    I know how you feel! Exposure therapy works. The idea of leaving the house used to turn me white and drive me in to a mad panic attack that had me on my knees in a ball, shaking. D: I got myself out and just to the top of my road and back, every couple of days. (It was also a strain on me physically because of my M.E and the anxiety made me feel all the more drained.) And now, I've even caught trains and I'm moving to a different city! Just would be good to make some friends up here but I'm poo with people!

  2. Funny that you should mention trains, because I'm a longtime rail user, who used to be VERY experienced of travelling all over by myself, to and from uni, staying with my brothers, and I did some commuting to London for a while as well.

    But for the Girls Day Out event, in Leeds, well, it'll be the first time that I've been on a long journey by myself in about two or three years, and although I honestly think that I'll be fine, I do feel a little bit nervous about it, especially since I'll be meeting up with people that I've never met in person before.

    And, I'm like you. I moved to a town where I know no one. The boyfriend stays over at weekends, and I see my mum, but that's about it. I'm rubbish at making friends. To a degree, I'm happy spending time on my own, but sometimes it's just nice to have someone to talk to :)


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