Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Oh anxiety!

When I was driving home today I felt a real urge to blog, a compulsion I have not felt in quite a while. It was not until I opened the laptop that I saw the date.


It has been three years since I broke down in my Mum's hallway. Three years since I experienced my first ever panic attack. And three years since I realised I was not well and I needed help.

If I look back I have always shown signs of anxiety. I clearly remember when I was at school and I would get nervous stomach aches over school trips, people getting sick, being late for lessons or forgetting my PE kit. As I grew up I just assumed those feelings of nervousness were normal and just me transitioning through life. Then again the older I got the more I realised these feelings were more persistent and would not go away.

Then 2013 happened and life changed.

I remember when I started recovering and thinking 'let's hope that doesn't happen again.' But the biggest thing I have learnt is anxiety does not got away. It has to be managed, but there are days when I am not on my A game with it, so it creeps in.

The past few weeks I have been finishing up university, essays, logging hours and meeting deadlines. I have been so busy "being busy" that when it all ended, I suddenly has a chance to be still.

To do nothing.

So anxiety crept back in. It was almost like my mind had nothing to be distracted with, so it got bored, and caused me to question things that have always given me stability. In particular my relationships with people and self worth. The brain is a wonderful organ, but it is also one of the cruelest!

I cannot even begin to explain how powerful anxiety is. It overtakes your thoughts, it makes you hyper sensitive and causes you to second guess every minute detail. It's with you in the car when you just want to sing along to the music. It's with you at work when you just want to concentrate on something you know you are good at. It's most definitely with you at night, the worst time of all, when your whole environment is quiet and your mind is whirring around in a vicious cycle. It's at that moment when anxiety tries to befriend you. It acts as your best pal trying to alert you to "trouble" ahead, so it plays with your natural instincts to protect yourself. Then when you are in the pits of despair the anxiety leaves you to deal with the broken pieces. Yet, at that point you need the anxiety back to 'help you' deal with all the negative thoughts and repeated questions. It's like a drug but with no benefits.

Since this happened a few weeks back I have been doing some therapy lessons over the phone with a counsellor. Yet, the biggest thing that has helped is letting people in. This is because three years ago I was VERY guarded with who knew about my feelings, until I decided to blog about it. When the anxiety came back to bite me this time, it was different, because I am in a relationship.

I have been very open and honest with my boyfriend but I was scared, because this time we were dealing with it, rather than talking about it. He has been amazing and my absolute rock during this tricky time. If I have to offer any advice to a person who has a partner, family member or friend with anxiety- it's to include the word WE.

WE will get through this
WE are a team
WE are going to do this together
WE will find a way
WE will manage this

Anxiety hates the word WE, and Tom always talks about how WE will tackle things. He has no idea how much it helps lessen the anxiety I feel in some situations. Although it is daunting, I am proud of myself for talking about it and letting people understand my world.

In time I will talk about how I deal with the anxious thoughts and the emotions related to them. In the meantime, 3 years later, I've realised I am still doing ok and anxiety hates that.

I'm still sensitive. I still enjoy having a laugh and getting out and about. I still love my career and I am proud of what I have achieved.

I am doing just fine.

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