I’ve always been a little bit anxious, I remember laying in bed when I was a kid, staring at the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling (You remember those right? They were AWESOME.) planning out where I would run and hide if WW3 broke out. The news used to be on every day at 6PM when I ate my dinner, and then I’d spend the rest of the evening worrying about what I had seen. Now that I’ve left home, I refuse to watch it, I will just talk loudly until I can find the remote to turn the channel over.
Social media sites are another thing that force news in your face. I have deactivated my accounts several times when videos start getting shared of animal abuse, child abuse, terrorism, violence etc. I am not naive, I understand there’s really bad stuff going on all around the world, but what does me knowing this achieve? I can’t save the world. I can’t stop people from dying or hurting, and I can’t teach people who I’ve never even met the difference between right and wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ignore that problems exist, I do donate to charities, but that’s all I can do. Sharing a horrific photo or video isn’t going to prevent any of these things from happening. It just makes me want to build a fort out of duvets and never leave the house again. I know some people won’t agree, but I don’t expect them to, I have my opinion and they have theirs.
Anyway, back to where it all started and why I started this blog. Like I mentioned, I think I’ve always been an anxious person. My friends have always joked about it. I worry about the smallest silliest things. I went to see a gig in London a couple of years ago, and you weren’t allowed to smoke in the arena, and once you were in, you couldn’t go out, so me and my best friend had a sneaky little cigarette in the ladies toilets. Even something small and slightly rebellious like this would push my mind into over drive and I would be thinking ‘Oh god what if we get caught, or what if we start a fire, what if we get kicked out and miss the gig, what if the police get called’ (I know, over dramatic) and my best friend is standing there saying ‘If we get caught, they’ll just tell us to put it out, stop worrying!’ For every one rational thought that she had, I had ten irrational ones. That’s always been me. In every single situation I have ever been in. As I’ve got older it’s got a lot worse. I’m not really one of those people who can live life on the edge, and I worry about the people who do.
Regardless of that though, I managed to get through life with a certain amount of enjoyment and kept the worrying under control until around 18-24 months ago. I’ve been having issues with my stomach for around 5 years, I’ve seen several doctors and they’ve mostly been pretty unhelpful and unsympathetic, so I kind of just dealt with it. Then around 2 years ago I developed an irrational fear that whilst I was out in public, I would need to use the loo (The embarrassing type). I know it sounds super silly but to my brain it is some horrible monster fear that is completely and utterly out of control. At first I would just stay in the odd weekend, and then me and my boyfriend moved house and I was closer to work so that then lead to me cutting more and more activities out until home and work became my safe places. Anything outside of that was a whole different ball game.
For the first year of my anxiety, it was manageable to a certain extent, I could do most normal day-to-day things like food shopping, doctors visits, family gatherings etc. The first thing to go was long car journeys. Then shopping centres. Then supermarkets. Then any shops in general. Then any type of car journey. Then anywhere at all except for work. I started having major panic attacks around 8 or 9 months ago, just thinking of going out would make me panic and in turn I would get a bad stomach which was the one thing that I was scared of. Any time I did try to venture out of the house, I would arrive at my destination, have a panic attack in the car park and have to leave promptly, like my life depended on it. So it became easier to not try, then there were no disappointments.
I didn’t really acknowledge I had a problem until it got to its worst. I managed to keep it from my family and friends for the most part. My boyfriend was obviously aware, but like me, he didn’t realise it was happening until I couldn’t do anything about it. When I started getting panic attacks at work that was rock bottom for me. Anxiety had already taken over nearly every aspect of my life, and I couldn’t sit and watch while it took the last normal thing that I had. I managed to get to the doctors, and sit through a panic attack which was horrible, because I was so used to dashing towards the exit as soon as I got the warning signs. It turns out that my doctors are really not very competent when it comes to mental health issues. After a few visits they gave me a couple of numbers to ring for support, but they were more interested in filling me with antidepressants rather than actually helping me resolve my problems. I couldn’t go to any of the support groups they offered, because they couldn’t seem to grasp the fact I couldn’t go out, so I turned to the internet for help.
I think I will leave this here for now. This is my first blog post and it’s ended up being longer than I anticipated. Maybe no one will even read this! My next blog post will be about my experience with trying out some therapies that I found online, so if you are suffering or have suffered from a similar experience to me, look out for it, maybe I could help in some way, or maybe I could at least remind you that you are not alone, even if it really feels like it.
I hope my story hasn’t been too boring, there will some laughs later on, I promise!