Nicole, 21, Portugal

“My golden ages were lived in my childhood, or at least that was what I thought.

I would go to my grandmother’s house every Saturday to play with my friends, I would wear ridiculous fashion choices and go around my neighbourhood with a bunch of accessories in my hair. This was what I had qualified as ‘golden ages’. My early days were full of imagination and love and I cherish and remember my childhood whenever I feel down to remember simpler times.

However, even then, the school was never a happy place for me. I love to learn but kids can be cruel with other kids. As excited as I was about learning, this wasn’t enough to make me happy in being there. Playtime was painful and I had one or two people I could call friends.

With time school became more of a sore spot to me until anxiety got the best of me. I was 10. I would skip school because I was afraid of it as it had never been kind to me. I would have panic attacks when I would leave the house. I thought no one outside of it would be kind to me and the house was my protection and the place where I would have the only people I loved, my family. I slowly started recovering but the rainy cloud of those days still follows me.

But life changes in very unexpected ways.

When I was 18 I was presented with the opportunity of going to study in the UK. I was hooked. If you had done a poll to know how many people thought I wouldn’t go through with it probably 90% would think I would be back to Portugal in the same week. I didn’t let my past define me.

There I was, with 18 years old and packing my anxiety to the UK. I was so happy.

I have been living in the UK for three years now and I have to say that it isn’t easy but I don’t regret going. I am proud of myself. I got to prove that I am capable of whatever challenge I set myself.

I still struggle with anxiety but it’s not the same. With the vulgarization of mental health, more people started coming out with their stories and I felt safer. I don’t feel like the weirdo anymore. I have learnt to accept it and embrace it for what it is. It has taught me how to be brave, kind and attentive. If anything I cherish my anxiety.”



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