By any means, anxiety is the worst experience I have gone through in my life. For a long time I would have rather broken any bone in my body, or experienced a multitude of bad health rather than continuously panicking about the possibility something was wrong.
The beginning of a very long, painful year, and the lowest point of my anxiety started in January 2015. Shortly after moving into our flat, working at William Hill as a manager, everything seemed perfectly normal, and I was happy with my life and the people in it. Surprisingly, I could never pin point the reason for my anxiety, I had a great relationship, was very close with my parents, including my grandad, and friends who I felt I had great relationships with. I also had a good social life, going out most weekends with a group of our friends, and had a holiday booked with Brandon and two of our best friends, and I was happy the majority of the time, minus the stress of money, a new flat and work, which is the norm for most people.
I started getting into awful routines, I began panicked every minute of the day, desperate for any help I could get, come February it was my birthday, and I’d never been less excited about celebrating a day all about me. I didn’t want a day all about me, I hated the thought of attracting any attention that may reveal my suffering. I just wanted to be left in the dark, alone. Despite all my feelings, I was convinced to go out celebrating, I had a lot of good friends around me, but that didn’t matter, my plan was to drink to the point I couldn’t fear anything. This became a habit, but with drinking excessively would result in the dreaded hangover the following day, so unbearable and awful it terrified me, so I gave it up.
Sleeping became a task, not coming naturally to me. I would be awake until 5/6am, having regular baths at 3 in the morning because it was the only thing that calmed me down, for about 10 minutes.. I took sleeping tablets, listened to youtube videos of calming music or sounds, read books, nothing worked. And after a dreadful three hours sleep at most, I would be up at 7am for work…and I had learnt this lack of sleep caused my anxiety to play up worse than ever. So what did I do? I couldn’t sleep still, the anxiety wouldn’t go away. I just stopped going to work. I could not cope.
I was absolutely desperate for help, crying out for help. I felt like no one who understood, or had experienced what I was going through was listening. I would be in a room with several people and still felt like I was alone. I never felt safe. Before long, with regret, I started to hurt myself, and I had uncontrollably thoughts of ending my life. I felt like, if I could cause myself pain, it would take away from the pain, and suffering I was trying to fight every day of my life. I thought this was my only option, but it wasn’t. My biggest reality check came when I saw how much I was affecting the people around me. After one particular night, what felt like a complete mental break down, as a result of all this pain, I cracked. I had my own mum, grandad and boyfriend all searching for me in the middle of the night whilst I had run off in a midst of panic. This affected them so deeply, they were feeling all the pain I was feeling, and I had no idea.
I never truly felt at peace, every day trying to fight off the anxious thoughts, giving into every one I had, letting it defeat me and take over my body. Feeling like I had a greater power inside me, controlling me, and I had lost all this power over my own being. Eventually I completely gave in, every panic attack, every sensation I just started to accept, and it became first nature to me. I almost ignored it, I became bored of it, it became quite humorous to me how I could have this feeling every day of my life, but my fears never became reality, I never ‘died’ as I thought I would, I was never caused physical pain, the pain was all psychological, I was doing it to myself.
One day, like a miracle, I woke up and felt the most peace I had felt for the best part of a year. I had stopped fighting off my anxiety, stopped blaming myself, and stopped seeking reassurance. I accepted that, if the worst was going to happen I should let it happen. To my surprise it never did, I learnt how to cope with it, rather than how to defeat it. I realised that my anxiety wasn’t my fault, but how I chose to react to it was my fault. I let it break me down, suffer, and completely destroy who I was as a person, for nothing.
As we know, in life shit happens. We experience the stressors of money, bills, children, relationships. We suffer the pain of loosing a loved one, loosing a job, loosing our ‘shit’ basically. Unfortunately we can’t control what happens to us, life constantly throws shit in our direction, and sometimes we can’t cope, or contain our emotions, and thing get out of hand. Accepting that we can’t change this is vital, and the way we feel about it cannot be avoided, but we can decide how we are going to cope with it. We are in control, and have the ability to:
- Accept how we feel, and not be ashamed of that. We have a right to feel sad, embarrassed, nervous, and just plain pissed off.
- Appreciate that, we are in an awful/upsetting/fucked up situation, and we can’t prevent that. We can only decide how we react to this. It can make us stronger, more determined, maybe even a learning curve.
- Once we have controlled these emotions, let ourselves experience them how we should, learn to live with the fact that this is not our fault, and how we can carry on our lives to the best of our ability. Taking on different challenges with pride and integrity, and continue to be a decent person, not letting our emotions take over every aspect.
In terms of my anxiety, I truly believed the moment I became completely over it was once I started up this blog. I decided to turn all the negative emotions I held so deeply, and turn it into a positive one. I know now that my battles with mental health was not my fault, but how I chose to deal with it was wrong. It happened, but now I am glad it did, because the person I am today I am proud of, I trust in myself to be a good person, and do good things, starting with this blog.
You are never to blame, you are never alone, and you are more powerful then you realise.