All of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our lives, but this doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to recognise when anxiety goes from a short-term emotion to a long-term mental health issue.
Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson suffered with anxiety for a year before he realised what was wrong. Coach spoke to Thompson during Mo Mission, a Movember Move fundraising challenge in which a team of celebrities took on a series of SAS-style challenges over a 24-hour period.
How long did it take you to recognise that you were suffering from anxiety?
Fucking ages – like a year! I didn’t have a clue. I’d just feel really weird and tired. Like I had a veil over my eyes. I was fuzzy the whole time, like I wasn’t in the world. And I had really bad sleep patterns. I wouldn’t sleep for like three days.
I wasn’t living life at all. I honestly felt like I was dying. I kept it to myself for ages, which made it even worse. And then after a year I managed to figure it all out with the help of family and friends.
Who was it you spoke to who helped you realise it was anxiety?
It was actually my mum. I started crying to my mum, asking what was going on with me. She said it sounded like anxiety. Then I went to the doctor and she told me I had anxiety and gave me the way to deal with it. I strongly believe that you should talk to friends and family – that’s what I did and it really helped.
Now you’ve been through the experience, looking back is there anything that was a particular red flag you didn’t recognise at the time?
The veil over the eyes thing, where you feel like you’re in a dream world and you’re not quite… with everyone. That was the biggest red flag.
Did being in the public eye make it harder?
One hundred times. I didn’t have it until I was in the public eye. I remember when it first happened – I just couldn’t sleep. It just got worse and worse, and I was having to film. It was just as I was getting more prominent through Made In Chelsea that it started getting worse.
What has helped you deal with your anxiety?
You can go the gym or go for a run, which really does help – exercise is key in my experience. Talking to someone at the start was so key as well, because I didn’t know what was happening. It felt so good for someone to say “honestly, so many people have this problem”. Just to know what it is, and that loads of people get it – I felt instantly better.
That’s part of the reason I’m doing this – to make people more aware that it’s OK to talk to people about this stuff. It can save your life. I’m not saying I was going to kill myself but I was going down the road of desperation, because I didn’t know why I was feeling like I was and I couldn’t do anything about it.
See related :
- “I Worry Less Now, Because I Run More” – How Running Can Help Your Mental Health
- 3 Simple Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety
- Here’s How To Tell If You Should See A Doctor About Your Mental Health
How do you maintain good mental health day-to-day?
Having a routine. Everyone will have different opinions on this, but I believe having a good routine is the best thing you can do. Know what you’re doing day by day and just be active. That’s what I’ve been doing. There are ways you can help yourself and I really believe that exercise and activity are massive.
Anxiety comes in many different forms and it depends on the person. Mine was sleep deprivation and a feeling of fuzziness in the head, but for some people it can be sweating or heart palpitations. Anxiety is the reason for so many problems, and the problem is that there are not really many ways to combat it – there’s not a pill you can take or anything like that. You’ve got to get on top of it.
What I would say is that what you think might be an illness, if it’s not diagnosed as tonsillitis or something like that, then more than likely it is actually anxiety. I used to think “I’m dying, I’ve got this or that illness” but actually anxiety manifests itself in so many different ways. Just go and talk to someone, then you know. That’s when you start the process – by opening up about how you feel.
Support Sam and the team as they go the distance in the ultimate Mo Mission for Movember. Find out more at Movember.com
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.