Big Brother's Ashleigh Coyle tells of anxiety battle
Former Miss Derry-turned-reality TV star Ashleigh Coyle has bravely revealed how she has battled anxiety in a bid to help break the stigma of the illness.
In her blog the model described how the debilitating condition led to her not wanting to leave the house. But she said that talking about it had helped her cope with mental illness.
Ashleigh, who was the runner-up in Big Brother 2014, opened up in the blog 'Say Hi To My Best Friend Anxiety' about the huge impact it has had on her life.
"My anxiety makes me detest surprises, unexpected visits, disrupted plans and silences in groups of people," she said. "It makes me rather walk an extra half-a-mile to avoid speaking to someone I know, that I just seen in the street, because I would rather die than have an unexpected conversation."
The 20-year-old praised her family and pet dog for supporting her through her battle and described how anxiety badly affected her on a daily basis.
"I shut down mentally, didn't want to socialise and felt uncomfortable being in contact with friends because I didn't know how to open up about my illness and didn't realise they'd understand," she said.
"I was insecure about people thinking I was looking for attention, because that's the way society is - we are not taught to understand mental health and mental illnesses."
She spoke about people not understanding the condition.
"People assume anxiety is just worrying about things all the time, it's not. It's second guessing yourself as well as everyone else around you, it's not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, it is constant tension in your muscles from the strain of panic attacks, over thinking everything and just about anything," she said.
"It's your mind and your thoughts refusing to co-operate no matter what important things you really need to do."
But she added that she was now on the road to recovery.
"I'm starting to accept it, be open about it, and talk about it, which helps. The stress of trying to beat it isn't there anymore, but I do have days where I am angry because I can't control it, and others where I get embarrassed because people think I can 'just calm down'."