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By Kelly Carrington


Mind Over Matter?

I believed the mind and body were two separate engines, each needing a fine-tune, when things go wrong. But when both broke down in my twenties, I went on a long journey of discovery and worked out that one fuelled the other.

I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in my twenties, but I suspect anxiety has been a part of me for a lot longer. Continuous and uncontrollable worrying, sleep problems, and heightened senses. Basically living on the edge. I went on to receive blocks of CBT sessions, empowering me with the tools to help with tricky times.


The Body Breakdown

Around the same time, I was working in TV production, developing a new weight loss series. A professor was championing the need for a healthy diet to prevent internal fat around the organs.

Cut to me jumping on an MRI scanner to be part of his research. I signed a disclaimer to agree to them contacting my GP if they found anything abnormal. They did find something, my spleen was three times the size it should be. Before this I had no clue what a spleen did.


Running on Low

Many tests later, it was deemed that I had a rare autoimmune disorder called immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP for short). Low levels of platelets in my blood, because my body is attacking platelets by mistake, meaning that my ability to heal can be hampered.

I thought that the extreme fatigue and spontaneous bruising was part and parcel of being a young twenty-something living in London, ‘work hard, play hard.’ But no, I had ITP to thank for that.


Chicken or the Egg?

So which came first? The anxiety or the autoimmune condition? Was I anxious about being or getting ill? Could I have done anything differently? Anxiety has a knack of making me super hard on myself, and it is easy to retrospectively pick holes in your actions. But I am working hard on living for the now. I understand how important it is to be kind to my body, because this feeds into being kind to my mind.


Why and How?

In its simplest terms, prolonged anxiety is stress on the body. Leading to increased cortisol, inflammation, pain and a host of physical ailments.(1.)(2.) I made tweaks to aid my immune system by; cutting alcohol, having less sugar, reducing processed foods, and high fatty foods.


Kind to the Mind

Let’s not forget about the mind. I truly believe that the single most important thing I have learnt over the years is to practise being more positive. I am not denying negativity exists. Sometimes we are thrown huge curveballs in life. But I try to find the positives in all situations.

And the results are astonishing. My platelets are still low, but I’m less anxious, calmer, sleeping better, energy levels have improved, and I am having more fun. What’s more, studies tend to agree that there is a connection between positivity and quality of life. (3.)


Positive Sign-off

My lifestyle changes are a set of guidelines that have been many years in the making, an individualised plan just for me. Work out what is best for you, to keep being you.


(1.) Liu YZ, Wang YX, Jiang CL. Inflammation: The Common Pathway of Stress-Related Diseases. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Jun 20;11:316. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00316. PMID: 28676747; PMCID: PMC5476783.

(2.) PDSA 

(3.) Park N, Peterson C, Szvarca D, Vander Molen RJ, Kim ES, Collon K. Positive Psychology and Physical Health: Research and Applications. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2014 Sep 26;10(3):200-206. doi: 10.1177/1559827614550277. PMID: 30202275; PMCID: PMC6124958.


‘I am a young person’s mental health mentor and special needs learning support assistant. I have been a mental health blogger for three years. Posts feature my real-life highs and lows in relation to my own struggle with mental health; in the hope that some might relate, reach out, laugh out loud or reflect. Sometimes you wonder if anyone is reading, but then you get feedback and realise you are not alone.’

The views expressed by the contributor are not necessarily those of Anxiety UK, nor can we guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. If you would like to write a blog for AUK please email [email protected] for more information.



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