So I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, but putting it off for one reason or another. I wasn’t too sure about how to write it, like what angle to take but I think as a first post it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s about time I just get on with it and do it. So here goes…. This isn’t my normal post so please forgive me if it’s poorly executed. Haha.
Anxiety is something I’ve suffered with since the age of around 7/8. I developed some strange OCD traits after my parents divorced, became extremely self-conscious, found separation very difficult and worried an awful lot for someone so young. Since then my anxiety has been a consistent annoyance in my life. At times it’s scary, exhilarating, fucking frustrating, boring and has caused me to question my sanity on a number of occasions. If you don’t suffer with GAD or an anxiety disorder it’s hard to understand and if you do, it’s hard to describe. Not only is this because it manifests differently from individual to individual but also because despite knowing yourself to be a sufferer it can still change, morph and surprise you when you least expect it!.. oh the joy.
This academic year, my third year of university was the worst, especially for my anxiety. It got so severe I became physically ill from it. Like seriously. Random unexplainable ailments started to appear. I began to think I had a terminal illness, honestly. But despite multiple trips to the doctors, hospitals and six courses of antibiotic (yes six!!) nothing seemed to “cure me”. As you can imagine, I got to a really really low point with it. It became a vicious circle of worry causing illness and illness causing worry. I felt like it wasn’t going to end. My family and friends then started to join in with the worrying cuz it wasn’t like me to be so mentally and physically ill. Some of my symptoms included: dizziness, hot flushes, headaches, stomach aches, acid reflux, aches, extreme fatigue... the list goes on. I tried some extreme dieting and cleanses to rule out allergies and intolerances. I tried cutting out alcohol, caffeine, gluten, sugar… nope, nothing. I tried sleeping more, eating more iron… nope. I tried acupuncture, yoga, massage, reflexology…yes, it helped a bit but I still had symptoms.
Whilst all this was going on I was trying to work, study, volunteer attend personal therapy as a part of my degree and well, not be too much of a gloomy hermit. I can’t remember exactly when I started to feel better but it coincided with some events in my personal life, attending regular yoga and massage appointments (which cost me a bloody fortune may I add-no one tells you how much anxiety costs!!!) and some exploration and self-discovery that came from my personal therapy. It’s fair to say that it was the most difficult 6-8 months of my life. I honestly thought I had ‘gone mad’ and I wasn’t coming back from it. Despite learning about mental health conditions as a part of my degree I wasn’t able to see the similarities in my own conditions, mad isn’t… well not mad, but you get me. All I can really describe it as, is a manifest bubble of anxiety-fuelled depression.
Despite being out of that real low point now I often find myself slipping. But I’ve kinda learnt now what I’m like and know the tell-tell signs bubbling up. If my tummy starts hurting randomly, I feel MORE erratic and irrational than normal, I feel achy, weak and lethargic I know that it’s my anxiety. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what’s causing it straight away but I usually give myself a couple of days of relaxing, avoiding anxiety evoking situations as much as possible and usually going to bed really early. Eventually I can usually figure out what exactly it is that is causing my ailments by stripping apart what’s happening in my life at the time. I learnt to listen to my body more and although it still surprises me sometimes, this has been working for me for the last few months.
BUT, I’m not going to lie to you and make out that everything is all fine ‘n’ dandy. Cuz there is definitely times where I feel horrible. Skatty, self-conscious, un-worthy, un-loveable all that jazz. I can go from being euphoric one moment to feeling utterly depressed in the next and it could be from someone looking at me ‘funny’ or making a comment about something I’ve done. I know it’s stupid and irrational when voiced out loud but that’s the funny thing about anxiety. It’s all in your head. You are your worst enemy.
This is just a little intro into my anxiety battle, I’ve got some more pending posts that I’ll be writing in the next few days/ weeks with the aim to raise awareness, help others …and yeah, I dunno. Personally I find it really helpful to hear other people’s stories. To know that you’re not mad and actually it’s more common than not and actually anxiety can be your friend, sometimes… if you can make it work for you!