‘Just a Little Bit Anxious’

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Mental health; two words that are heard world-wide, two words that attach hundreds of thousands of life stories, two words that have resonated through history, psychology and literature (Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar coming to mind). Yet the stigma that still holds firm when those two words are spoken remains as it always has, to derogate from the reality of how powerful and influential the mind is on the physical body and how no one is immune to its effects. I, who suffer with severe anxiety, from which stems the inability to eat food without awful struggle, have silenced myself to the detriment of my own health. I, who have felt guilt and embarrassment from my anxiety, chose to remain quiet understanding that what I suffer is not even slightly comparable to what many suffer daily… but I also chose to remain quiet because I was ashamed of my irrationality. When I sit at the dinner table, my family finish a meal within five to ten minutes without thinking about it, I then spend forty-five minutes barely able to finish a quarter of my food because I think too much about it. I took something natural and made it unnatural, and for almost five years I have silently endured. My anxieties began long before my eating had been affected.

So why now do I write this?

I write, because today a close relative of mine uttered the phrase ‘there are many all around the world who do not have any food to eat, and yet you can’t eat because you’re a little bit anxious.’ The guilt of having my anxieties have never subsided since the beginning, but when that phrase was uttered to me, it accentuated how misunderstood mental health is and how misrepresented those who suffer anxiety are. Being anxious and having anxiety can be two completely different things. Everybody can get anxious, but not everybody has anxiety. I cannot speak for everyone who has anxiety, as our symptoms are not all the same, but for myself, anxiety is this thing that feels deep-rooted within, that no matter how hard I try to get to it, to dig it out, it isn’t possible. I often feel unbearably nauseous, light-headed and I can feel as though I am struggling to breathe (even though I know can). These are all the physical symptoms that my anxiety causes me to feel, and because of these I isolate myself. I didn’t choose this, I do not want this, but I have it and I have to deal with it, and it is harder to deal with when mental health is thrown aside as a lesser issue. People who struggle with mental health are not lesser. I, WE are not lesser.

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The Bigger Picture: The South Saxon Housing Development

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South Saxon Image

Local resident captures South Saxon Conservation and the local dog walking.

At the end of Edinburgh Road, the South Saxons conservation has been the centre of the local community. Dog walkers from the surrounding neighbourhoods, morning, afternoon and evening, watch their canine friends enjoy their playful interactions with others, as well as intermingling in friendly conversation with other pet owners. The housing proposal by AmicusHorizon seeks to demolish the beautiful greenery and create an onsite café, and 60 apartments for elderly residents. AmicusHorizon aims to use the already existing community to incorporate these new homes and future residents, but at the expense of the beloved South Saxon field and its encompassing nature. AmicusHorizon is a housing association that develops and provides homes to many in the South East. In a press release given by AmicusHorizon earlier this year, Neill Tickle, Development Director, said “The local community is integral to the success of our plans for the site.” The housing company fails to grasp, that the extinction of the field, is also the extinction of the foundation which the community is built upon. South Saxon has borne witness to the birth of a community, to the firmly established unity of neighbourhoods; in my 21 years of residence, I too have observed its growth and can identify that its existence, need not be altered.

The South Saxon wildlife site serves as yet another example of how nature and our environment suffers at the demand of the human race. This is not an argument against providing houses to those in need, but it is a dispute to end the constant threat to the security of our environment. In the last year, local and world leaders have emphasized the need for immediate action. Barack Obama made multiple speeches in the United States this past year, stating facts, revealing figures that show the impact of our actions on our planet. In 2013 President Obama expressed the need for urgency. “The question now, is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late… We need to act.” Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Leader, projected his stance at the Labour Conference 2015. “The only way to get a sustainable economy, is to protect the environment.” Our dependency upon our planet is great, so why are we not doing more to protect it?

This small South Saxon field stands for something far greater than AmicusHorizon and other building associations can comprehend. This wildlife reserve represents community that in today’s society is a rarity. Most importantly it represents the forests, the wildlife and all nature that has fallen under human authority.