Anna Russell, Corporate Responsibility and Internal Communications Director at Bupa UK, is mum to 12-year-old Mia. To raise awareness this Children’s Mental Health Week, she shares her daughter’s explanation of anxiety and what helps her when she gets anxious.
“Mia has suffered with anxiety for the past few years. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but my advice to parents in a similar situation is to do all you can to get the help you and your child might need - talk to your GP, to school and get therapy if you can as soon as you can. Talking to family and friends has really helped too – it’s amazing how many other people have similar experiences and sharing those can really help,” says Anna.
“Celebrate the good days and know that you will always get through the trickier days.”
Anxiety in Mia’s words:
“I can’t describe anxiety with ink and paper, but I’ll try. I’m not going to use any official fancy pants language as that will make me sound like an emotionless robot. It’s hard writing when you know you will be judged.
I don’t like the word anxiety as it is quite an anxious-making word. Everyone’s anxiety is unique to the person and cannot be identified with a single word. For those who have had anxiety this will be easier to understand and those who haven’t may need to use their imagination.
Think of being trapped inside a key-less box. You punch and kick and scrape the walls, but all this does is to make the box smaller. But there is a way to get out. A way that is 50-50 so may not necessarily work, but now you’re desperate. You will be given a key in one week, but over that time the box will get smaller and smaller. By the third day your knee will be wedged in front of your forehead. You really want to escape, but it will be unbearable to be squashed for that long.
I find that when people are positive it makes me happier and less likely to get anxious. When people are angry or miserable my anxiety slowly starts to creep up on me. Talking about it helps. I have weekly therapy where I can talk about what’s been bothering me and what’s been going well. One of my favourite ways is meditation. Some of you might think meditation is a lot of touchy-feely mumbo jumbo. However, it allows you to feel more present, grounded and calm. I think it should be compulsory to meditate once a week at all schools and workplaces.”