Miriam talks about her experiences of anxiety and depression and how her recovery led her to take part in this years Miss Wales competition.
If you had told me that I would be competing in something like the Miss Wales competition two years ago I would've struggled to believe it. For the past few years my confidence was quite low and I was experiencing anxiety, like so many people my age.
Then about a year ago I slipped into a depressive state when my relationship of six years ended. I was lost. I didn't want to leave the house, and I was a complete shell of myself and was struggling to cope day to day. My anxiety peaked and I was also experiencing panic attacks. At one point I felt as if I would never feel happy again.
After, some hesitation I decided to seek advice from my doctor who advised me to start taking anti-depressants.
I was also prescribed a beta blocker to take as and when my anxiety peaked. Although I was apprehensive about taking medication, it is probably one of the best decisions I ever made. After a few weeks I went from not wanting to leave the house at all, to planning days out and trips with friends. I even started dating and ended up meeting someone very special, whose support and love helped me to find myself again.
I was also very lucky in the fact that my mum is a qualified counsellor so she was able to provide me with information about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and certain coping mechanisms that would get me through those sudden bursts of anxiety and panic. In addition to this, I am extremely blessed in the sense that I have an incredibly close relationship with my mum, as well as my sister and a few close friends.
It was when I started feeling more like myself that a friend, who had taken part in the Miss Wales competition in 2016, suggested that I send off an application. I didn't really think anything would come of it, then a few months later I was invited for an interview. Then a few weeks after that I received an email with the news that I was a Miss Wales Finalist.Since then I have had so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had before.
Have not only made me happy, but have boosted my confidence and instilled in me the fact that I can create my own opportunities.
I have appeared on the Local TV channel 'Made in Cardiff', attended the Cardiff Lifestyle Awards, organised fundraising events and worked with some really talented photographers. A few months ago smiling made my face ache and I only left the house to go to work or university, so stepping in front of a camera in a studio and appearing on TV was a huge achievement for me.
Getting my confidence back also resulted in me getting an amazing job. A company that I had worked with a few years ago got back in touch and asked if I would like to work with them again, I’m now the face of their YouTube channel!
Several of my friends have had experiences with anxiety and depression and I think it is so important that we raise awareness of mental health in young people. I think that is vital that we reach out to those who need help and make them aware that help is available. You won’t feel this way forever.
I feel like I am now at a point where I can slowly come off my medication, but seeking help was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I urge anyone who is having trouble coping, whatever the situation may be, to seek help too. Whether this be counselling or medication, if it works for you the outcome is priceless.
Experiencing these things is in no way a weakness, in fact, I saw my experiences with depression and anxiety as an opportunity to grow and become stronger.
This time last year I would never have imagined that I would be where I am today. I lacked the confidence to express myself as the women I am, and the positive environment to grow as a person, but with help I am back to feeling like me again.
Of course I still have bad days, where I think about things that have happened or I just feel less confident. However I know that I can overcome these feelings, I have learnt to love myself and not to limit my potential.