I often wonder how other people get up and out of bed every day and just live their lives.
I do it, but I do it with extreme difficulty. Having anxiety that fluctuates between it being barely noticeable to full on panic attacks is tiring and once I’m in it, it’s near damn impossible to get out.
I start to over analyse everything about where I am in my life, in my relationship, friends, family and my job. Why does that person over there seem to have it all more together than me? What am I doing wrong? I work hard and I try to maintain a social life, so how come I’m not as successful as that completely different person to me?
It affects everything I do from that point and I have to fight to be bright and happy when out at meetings or just to engage with people in the office. There is a stigma attached to having anxiety and I don’t want to be grouped into what people think it means. I don’t want it to be an excuse for me not managing to do something. Or something someone can use against me as an excuse for their behaviour.
When your life feels like a constant battle that won’t end it makes you want to give up. I feel sick to my stomach sometimes at what I need to do on a fundamental level just to get by. I’m talking about the little picture stuff. Making myself get out of bed, shower, brush my hair, and put on my make-up… it all becomes a sometimes unbearable amount of effort. How is it I have to do this every single day and worse I don’t ever give myself a break, because I feel like if I lose any of the little momentum I have then it’ll be gone forever. The worst days are when I lose the fight. I’ve spent entire weeks in bed just eating and watching the world go by, it’s grim.
The hardest time was about 3 years ago when I felt like I’d hit absolute rock bottom. I was at university and believe or not I was being bullied. I was sent hurtful messages on social media, I was attacked and I was belittled and I just wondered why? What have I done to deserve this and I gave up. I stopped at life and it wasn’t until my little sister came to visit me and pushed me into getting help that I realised what a mess I’d become. I’d lost and I was being eaten up by depression… did I want this to define me? No. So I fought again and I went on anti-depressants and I started to realise I had more to live for than I thought originally. I applied myself to life, starting small, and pushed on.
I realised university wasn’t actually for me and so I started to volunteer and network in the hopes I could find a job and stay in Manchester, which is a beautiful and exciting city that I had come to love. For me it worked out, I got a job and a flat and hell… I even got a cat and I thought this is it. I did it.
My little panther Freya
The thing is now, I need to keep doing it. Sadly anxiety and depression are never too far away and they come back and they try and drag me down and sometimes they even win. Not as much or in such a life affecting way as the hardest time but enough to scare me and make me realise I need to re-focus or I’ll end up in that dark and lonely pit again. I’m even considering going back onto anti-depressants thanks to a speech from Vikas Shah and his own battles, about breaking down the negativity associated with taking a drug to feel ‘normal’. I will do anything to not let it happen to me again and at the moment it’s not great so this is me trying to be pro-active before it gets worse, which is a huge leap in itself.
I guess something else that I’ve realised is the thing that causes you to suffer from anxiety, it’s usually the straw that breaks the camels back. A lot of the time it’s a lot more intricate and complicated that even you realise. I can easily say it was that girl that bullied me, or the fact I had a rocky childhood, or that I’m from a council estate, or a number of individual things, but there is the kicker… it can be elements from all those things and more. So instead of trying to rectify the past I remember what I didn’t like and I try to avoid it and just focus on a more positive future. Considering how much it can affect me I have what a lot of people would consider a successful life. I have a job I enjoy, friends, family, my cat, a home, a social life and people who understand and are there for me when I need them.
Some people don’t get to that point. Some people give up and that’s the end of the game for them. What I want to share is that it is important to remember that it’s ok to get help and yes there is a stigma but no you don’t have to be it. You can be more than that stigma and you can thrive beyond your illness. Don’t let the small mindedness of others diminish your opportunity to be happy.
A little bit of inspiration from #GirlBoss
The three things that helped me most were…
- Going to see a Doctor and getting on anti-depressants. They were rough going initially but really helped me get to a place where I felt like life was going to be ok again.
- Taking up a hobby. I started my blog and writing about food or music or literally anything was a release. Also it was just for me, I didn’t have to please anyone with it. It could be whatever I wanted it to be.
- Seeing friends and family that understand. Going to see these people (mainly friends as I have no family in Manchester) was a huge help… I call them ‘comfort friends’ as they just let me be me without any judgement.
*Disclaimer – this is about me and my journey. It’s not something to draw a comparison too but an insight in to one subjective persons life. It’s my way of being in control of what my story is and not just people going ‘oh… did you know… she’s got anxiety’. It’s been a really cathartic experience. Thank you.