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Regional journalist speaks out over mental health battle

Amelia ShawA regional daily journalist has broken her silence about her mental health battle in a candid first-person piece for her newspaper.

Amelia Shaw, left, a multimedia journalist for the North Wales Daily Post, has written a forthright account about “fighting a losing battle” with anxiety.

Amelia reveals that she  has lived with anxiety since childhood, but only sought medical help for the disorder in 2012.

In the piece for the Daily Post, she spoke of needing to “paint on her happy face” each day in order to hide what she called the “constant war” inside her head.

Wrote Amelia:  “I’m in a relationship, I have a happy and healthy little boy and the job I’ve always wanted. There are few people who know the ‘real’ me – they don’t know that like 25pc of the population, I struggle with mental health issues.

“Every day I put on a brave face and paint on a smile that I don’t believe while inside I am fighting a losing battle with my anxiety disorder. I have never dealt with anything more difficult than the constant war inside my head but despite this, I’ve become an expert at hiding it.

“I can look you in the eye and have a normal conversation with you while my brain goes in to overdrive, and you’d never be able to tell. I’ve always said I wish I could take my brain out and put it on the side for a while, just to find some sort of relief.

“It’s exhausting being my own worst enemy and it’s terrifying knowing that I don’t have the ability to shut down this emotion. I worry that I’m letting people down because I am not a good enough mother, a good enough girlfriend or a good enough journalist.”

Amelia says she is “hypersensitive to disarray, chaos and any sort of change”, and that feeling overwhelmed can cause her to “lash out” at those closest to her.

Over the last four years she has changed medication four times, although she stopped while pregnant with her son.

Amelia added: “The pills are great at numbing the pain and they make painting on my happy face that little bit easier. They make it a little bit easier to deal with mess or loud noises or a change of plans, but they don’t get to the route of the problem.

“I’ve come a long way, but I’ve also got a long way to go, and one thing I will tell those who struggle every day is don’t hide how you feel. There is no shame in admitting that you’re not OK.”

Amelia told HTTFP people from across the UK had contacted her about their own experiences since the piece was published.

She said: “I’m really lucky and grateful to have been given this platform to talk about my anxiety disorder, but to be honest I’ve barely scratched the surface.

“There will always be people who don’t understand, and you can’t expect them to if they’ve never experienced it, but knowing that I’ve helped just a handful of people is enough for me.

“It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it’s definitely worrying to see how many people struggle to be inside their own head. I urge them to seek help, it was the best thing I ever did.”

5 comments

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  • January 17, 2017 at 11:14 am
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    A brave piece, well done to her. Journalism and anxiety/depression are common bedfellows in my experience, either because of the stressful nature of the job (deadlines, constantly being under attack from one side or the other) but also I think journos tend to think more about the world by their very nature. They notice more, it’s what makes them good at their job (same for creative people/comedians perhaps) but unfortunately opens them up to these issues too.

    Wise man once said, oh to be rich enough and stupid enough to enjoy my life.

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  • January 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm
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    A tough battle indeed, and it doesn’t help that proper, in-depth therapy isn’t readily available on the NHS. Medication is a useful crutch but a crutch nonetheless, while short-term, general-purpose counselling isn’t always enough to address long-standing issues. The specialist talking treatments (and there are many different types, some of which are more suited to particular people than others) are incredibly helpful when it’s the right “fit” but aren’t easily accessible unless you can afford to pay privately. Still, well done to Amelia for sharing her experiences – they’re a lot more common than many people are willing to acknowledge.

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  • January 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm
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    Super piece and all good wishes to Amelia on sharing her first hand experience of this often ignored condition. Her piece puts so called ‘investigation units’ and their weak ‘findings’ to shame

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  • January 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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    Well done Amelia. A piece to be proud of.
    Journalism is probably more stressful than ever because of technology that was supposed to make life easier. But some of us who are more cynical creatures saw that one coming.

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  • January 17, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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    The best account of living with an anxiety disorder I have ever read – she has effortlessly articulated what so many people are going through…

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