5 Things I’ve learnt that might help you…(Maybe)

I read an article this morning, whilst I was waking myself up ready for the joys that this sunny Wednesday would hold, and I found it a bit frustrating to read.

It was titled “25 things that every woman should know by the age of 25” and I thought it may be interesting to read to get other people’s ideas on how to wade through the troubles of your mid 20’s.

It turns out this article just really focused hard on telling people to “get over it” a lot – such as “Some girls have it all. Get over it.”

Okay cool, I get that sometimes we need that kick up the arse, and someone to shake us wildly and say “get a grip!” I’m all in favour of that, but I also think sometimes, when you’re in a position to write, potentially, a good positive article for 20 something women to read, don’t be so brutal. Give some, perhaps, more constructive advice, and not just “get your foundation matched”.

But if this article works for some people, awesome! Crack on! It’s just for me personally, it didn’t resonate and it gave me the idea to just write a couple of things that perhaps I’d like to read in an article like this, so here it is…5 things that I’ve learnt and might help you…(maybe?)

1. Make-Up(?)

Here’s a fun fact – I didn’t start wearing make up until I was 16 and the worry and concern about how it looks on my little pale face still sits in my mind today.

Is my eyeliner running? Is my foundation rubbed in properly? Is every single individual eye lash separated perfectly?

hate that I do worry about this stuff as well, it causes so much annoyance in the mornings, to the point where I can literally see the sweat on my forehead and upper-lip appearing because I’m so hot and bothered about it. So here’s my tip about make-up…

Chances are, no one will even notice it.

If one eye lash is sticking out slightly more than the others, I guarantee you ask someone about it and they’ll say “I didn’t even notice until you said something”.

Just wear stuff on your face that makes you feel comfortable. If you feel great spending an hour in the morning putting on lots of different make up, awesome! If you don’t wear any make up at all that’s great as well. Just do this stuff for you and nobody else.

(I’m still working on this.)

2. Try not to spend too long looking at other people’s lives on social media.

It’s so easy to do. The problem with technology now is how quick it is, we can literally see the entire back log of that friend we went to school with 10 years ago in about 20 seconds. Who they’ve gone out with, where they went to Uni, where they live, how many adorable pugs they have…and before you know it you’re looking at a photo of their bedroom thinking “why don’t my bed covers match my curtains like that?!”

It’s toxic.

I love social media. I’m on it pretty much all the time because I am 100% a product of my generation and I am totally dependent and addicted to my phone. HOWEVER, I absolutely always make time, even if it’s a couple of minutes a day, to try to ground myself and remember what I have around me. I have a nice home, a lovely fiance, and the BEST cat in the world (decide amongst yourselves which one you think is at the forefront of my mind 24/7).

It’s so hard to not get sucked into social media, and think why is my life not like theirs, but just try every day to bring yourself back into the now and remember what you have around you to be happy about. Sometimes I even just think how happy I am to have a PS4 in my living room. (I’m a gamer through and through)

3. Them weird relationship things…

In the blog I read this morning there was a whole section on “sometimes guys just don’t fancy you. Accept it.” and I really didn’t like how it was worded.

Yes. This is true and sometimes the guy/girl you are crazy about just doesn’t see you in the same way, and it’s making you feel shit all the time. But rather than just washing your hands of it and thinking “okay onto the next” why not spend some time focusing on yourself? Build up your confidence a bit more so you’re not relying on a male/female to give you that confidence in yourself in the first place?

Be okay with you and comfortable being on your own for a little while!

(This is also something I’m still working on. REALLY working on.)

4. All work and no play makes 20 somethings MISERABLE.

A lot of people say to me when I say I’m tired “your 20’s are made for working mad hours because you have the energy to do it!”

I don’t necessarily disagree with that as I wake up at 5.30 Monday-Friday and then still have a bit of energy left in the evenings to iron my clothes for the next day, feed my cat, get myself some dinner, make my lunch for the next day and then read a book before bed. However, I do think we should also be understanding of 20 somethings who say they are tired.

There’s a bit of an expectation that we young adults fresh out of uni will just work whatever hours we are given because we are desperate for the money and experience, which probably is fair enough to believe, but give us a break! Don’t take advantage of our focused young minds!

If you’re tired from working too much, book a day of leave and give yourself a long weekend!

It’s crazy the difference it makes to have a Friday, Saturday + Sunday off together, or if you’re not in a normal Monday-Friday office job, find your next day or two off consecutively and then book a day of leave alongside that.

Make a plan to have a couple of days without any plans!

5. Enjoy yourself.

You’re not in Uni handing in assignments anymore, your awkward teenage years are far behind you and PE lessons are a thing of the past!

Now is the time to really focus on yourself and your own mental and personal development. You can reflect on the things that have stuck with you since you were younger and work out how to move on from them.

Be bold and fearless when you face the stuff that really scares you, and remember you are strong enough to do it. You’re strong enough to do anything you set your mind to!

It’s not going to be easy, but just be kind to yourself and give yourself breathing time if you need it.

And remember to be thankful every day you aren’t being forced to play netball outside in the freezing cold every week anymore…

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Post Valentines Day Blog

 

In this blog I wanted to primarily write about my amazing fiancé but also write about how silly I find valentines day to be.

I realise Valentines day was a few weeks ago now, but sometimes you find yourself busy and that blog you’re desperate to write takes a back seat for a while [sorry blog].

Adam and I didn’t do anything for Valentines Day this year, much the same as every other year because we both feel it to be a bit of a pointless day and it’s primary cause is to make companies some money. Adam and I also agree that you should cherish your nearest and dearest every day of the year anyway, and there shouldn’t just be one day you set aside to say “I love you”.

One thing I usually say to Adam, each day is “Happy (insert relevant day here)! I love you!” because every morning I wake up and I can see him there snoring with his arms laying next to him and his tattoos on show, and it makes me love him even more, if that was at all possible.

I’m not one to be soppy and write how much I love that dude all over facebook, if anything the most I do is send him guitar memes [he is obsessed.] but I wanted to just write down how much I love him, even if it’s just once in a blog.

Throughout the past few years I have been depressed and suffered with regular anxiety attacks, and throughout all that Adam has held my hand and stayed there with me. When we first met he had just started University, and he could quite easily have said to me he wanted to just enjoy himself not deal with a depressed girlfriend who didn’t always treat him as well as she should have.

I did some horrible things that I’m not proud of and despite the fact I wasn’t very well mentally, I know that isn’t necessarily an excuse to treat someone badly, but through all that he still stuck by me. He showed me this unconditional, beautiful love I had never experienced before. He showed me so much kindness when all I had received from previous boyfriends was aggression and cruelty.

Adam is without a doubt the most wonderful, genuine and caring human being I have ever met. He is one of the sole reasons I get out of bed every day, and he keeps me going when I tell myself I can’t possibly go out into the world today.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this blog is valentines day is totally irrelevant. If you have someone helping you through each day, whether it’s a friend, a family member or a boyfriend/girlfriend tell them they have helped you.

Tell them that without them things would be a bit harder.

Tell them that sometimes they are the only reason you got out of bed.

And if nothing else, tell them you love them.

You may find that you doing that could actually be the reason they get up that morning and face the day despite what inner battle their mind is going through.

A valentines card won’t cut it sometimes if you aren’t making the most of your loved ones as much as you can in the here and now.

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“Even I think you’re pretty great and I hate everyone!”

The past few days have been so tough and if you read my previous blog you’ll know why. If you haven’t read my other post then welcome to my blog reader…

On Sunday I couldn’t get myself off the sofa, and my long suffering fiance had to physically hold a glass of water for me to drink out of and take my anxiety tablets for the day ahead.

Come Monday when my best friend visited me I was still staring off into space going over thoughts in my head again and again.

Why did you trip up? Why did you get taken to A&E? 

Then I started thinking of things that have happened to me years ago that I haven’t even considered for a long time?

Remember that time you were 16 and got drunk for the first time? Remember they had to carry you out? Remember everyone said “look at the state of it” and “what a slut!”. You weren’t even a person…you were an “it”.

Remember when you first got to Brighton when you were 18 and went out all the time with people who didn’t really care about you? That’s probably what will happen again now that everyone has seen what your mind can do to you.

“The cats out the bag”. Everyone knows.

All those people you have become close to at work now see what you’re really like. They’ll freak out and walk away when you need them because who can blame them? No one wants to be dealing with that.

Just going over it and over it and over it, again and again and again.

Then today when I thought I can’t do this again, I can’t feel like this again, I had a break through. A real light bulb moment…

They hadn’t gone anywhere.

On Saturday I had text messages on my phone asking if I was okay, my fiance had people messaging him checking in, and my friend who was there with me at A&E on Friday had people asking her how I was.

People genuinely cared about how I was feeling.

Even after seeing me hyperventilate to the point of passing out, they still cared.

When I was 13 years old, a teenager dealing with the regular problems of who I am, who I fancied etc something big happened to my family, and I felt alone and lost. I didn’t have anyone to turn to talk about it. I was angry, so angry with everyone, but I didn’t direct it to them, I aimed it at myself in the form of self harming.

Then as I got older I felt a bit better, not self harming anymore, but still inside me, really deep was that anger, but if I ever felt that anger I’d turn it into sadness and anxiety and lock it away.

Then when I got to University and people started walking all over me I was angry again, but rather than be angry I’d be sad and again, I’d keep the anger hidden.

I’d hibernate away in my bedroom for days on end not speaking to anyone, because then I could be angry at myself for not going outside, rather than be angry at the people who made me feel that way.

Today someone said to me I need to be kinder to myself and I thought about it all day, and when I had my light bulb moment that no one had gone anywhere, I had another light bulb moment…

I’m horrible to myself because it’s the anger festering away inside me.

I never directed it to the right place, I just held onto it. And I’ve been holding it since I was a teenager and the mental place I put myself in when I feel embarrassed or sad is that anger and hate for everyone.

I’m 13 years old in my bedroom again crying over and over thinking “why am I so alone?”

But I’m not 13 years old anymore.

I’m 24, with a great job, loyal friends and the most patient, kind understanding fiance I could ever have by my side.

I have a kitten. (That’s not really relevant, I just really love my kitten)

I’m not expecting myself to have this lightbulb moment and suddenly have all my issues fade away because I know it doesn’t work like that, but this has been a huge step for me.

Having an anxiety attack and being shipped off to A&E at a Christmas Staff Party isn’t something I want to do again, nor do I recommend anyone doing it, but I do believe it’s perhaps a crucial moment in my emotional and personal development.

Without that happening perhaps I would still deep down be on edge that those I’d become close to would bolt out the door at any sign of my weakness’ and still have that anger eating away at me without acknowledging it.

I was texting one of my closest friends this afternoon telling her I felt down still, and she said “Even I think you’re pretty great and I hate everyone!” which is just about the best compliment someone could get…

And to every single person who has sent me their kind words and helped me through the past few days, from the absolute bottom of my heart…

THANK YOU!!

xxx

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“All that happened is you tripped”

This is probably one of the hardest blog posts I’ll write, partly because I have very little energy today so even typing is a challenge, but also because of what it’s about.

On Friday evening we had our work Christmas Party.

This was a big challenge for me to go to anyway, lots of people, lots of alcohol, people dressed up looking really beautiful etc. When I was getting myself ready before heading off, I was in the toilets at my work, hands shaking doing my make up.

The entire ritual of getting dressed and ready for a night out still makes my mind go a million miles an hour, for lots of reasons really. Nights out hold some really painful, embarrassing and traumatic memories for me, so bit by bit I’m trying to challenge myself and go to these kind of events and be okay from start to finish.

But I gave myself a bit of a mental chat, breathed in and out, grounded myself and was okay. Ready to give this a solid go.

And for a huge portion of the night, I surprised myself with how well I was doing. I drank some drinks, and was actively going up to people and initiating conversations. The last thing people would have thought about me was that I had an anxiety disorder.

Then unfortunately it all went a bit down hill. I don’t remember all of it, but a really good friend who helped me the whole evening told me yesterday exactly what happened.

I came back from the toilet and walked through people and tripped and fell over a bit, people just came up to me to help me up, but presumably because so many people surrounded me so quick, my mind went “That’s it. You’ve ruined it. You look ridiculous now and everyone thinks it” and before I knew what was happening I was hyperventilating my body getting tenser and tenser, and was being taken outside.

It’s all a complete blur from then onwards. I remember being put into the recovery position and looking along the street where I was lying and hardly believing it was happening. Then I was being put into an ambulance.

An ambulance. The loudest and brightest of any possible get away vehicle.

I had my friend with me whilst we were going to A&E, but all I could keep thinking was just leave me. Just drop me off and leave me alone. I just want this to stop. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, my body had completely shut down on me, and my mind was racing telling me all the things I dreaded to hear every time I went out on a night out.

Look at yourself. People will just think you were doing it for attention. You got taken away from a work party in an ambulance. You’re that girl. 

I got to A&E and was put into a room on a bed, and was having an anxiety attack the longest I’ve ever experienced one. Someone had called my fiance and told him to get to the hospital. And then when he walked in I felt even more shame than I had before.

How could you do this to him?

Eventually when my body had calmed down, we got a cab back to our flat. I had a bath, and got into bed.

But I couldn’t stop crying. I just wanted to disappear.

The next day I woke up and felt awful, but I had to get my car from where I’d left it the night before. So I got up, showered, put on make up [god knows why] and got myself on a train back to where I needed to go.

The train was rammed. People talking about their nights out, going to football, Christmas plans. And I felt myself get the shakes and sweat and I knew I had to make a dart to the toilet before I threw up in front of a train full of people. When you’ve just had a huge anxiety attack and been taken away in an ambulance, the last thing you ever want to do is be in a public place the next day and bring attention to yourself.

I think I’ve met my attention quota for a long time.

I got off the train and walked to my car. Going over things again and again in my head.

I went to see my friend who helped me the night before. I just cried a lot, and said to her how humiliated I felt, and that I was having really dark thoughts when I got home because I just wanted it to stop.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. The most frustrating thing is it’s not even that I have a complete lack of awareness as to why I have these thoughts and feelings. I know the root causes of all of them. Who it was that made me end up like this and what situations I’ve been in that have caused these reactions. I know all of that. And yet I still can’t get through one night.

And if I had just done it for one more hour. If I had just sat in a corner quietly, then gone home I’d have done it. I was so close.

I rang my best friend today to speak to him about it and as always he was wise and listened to me.

He said “all that happened Abby is that you tripped. That’s it. Good metaphor really, as you physically tripped, but you also tripped mentally. You had a slip up.”

I did have a slip up. I was smashing it, then I slipped up.

So now I need to work on processing that and not punishing myself for it and trying to see the positives from it. Right now that’s really hard, because I still feel those really negative emotions.

I’m still having dark thoughts today because I keep thinking how much easier it would be for those closest to me if they didn’t have to deal with this anymore.

I just need to pick myself up, dust myself off and try again.

After all…all I did was trip.

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“Clever Girl”

I don’t want every blog post I write to be about bad days, I’d like it to be about good things too! But I’ve been going over this for the past couple of days, and I think it’d help to just type it out and share it, whether one person reads it or fifty people do, it’ll just help me process it a bit better once I’ve got it all typed out I think.

A couple of nights ago my lovely boyfriend and I had two amazing friends round for dinner and drinks.

It was such a good evening, just relaxed and calm. When we eventually got ourselves to bed I ended up having a serious anxiety attack, probably the worst I’ve had in a little while. My body went very stiff, and I just remember crying a lot and my boyfriend calmly telling me to remember my breathing and eventually I think I just conked out.

The day after I felt awful. A combination of a couple too many drinks, and my mind working over time and punishing myself for not being able to get through one evening, which was a complete pleasure from start to finish, without having a negative reaction at some point.

Even today I’m going over it and over it – “what happened in that one evening that caused a switch to flick in my head? What changed so drastically from one moment to the next?”

My boyfriend also said the following day, which came from such a good, caring place that next time he would perhaps not drink so as to make sure if I had a bit of a bad turn later on in the evening when it was just the two of us, he could have his head on completely and help me. This just made me feel even worse.

“You’re now spoiling his fun. He is having to put things on hold because your mind has these moments that effect you the way they do. You’re a liability.”

And that’s the thought that has been circulating my mind over the past few days, that I’m a liability. And of course logically I know that isn’t the case. I know that. But when your anxious mind is over powering the logical side of yourself, it’s impossible to listen to any reason.

I desperately want to be able to do these normal things, just have some drinks, have some dinner with people and be okay. Not react, not have my body stiffen up and have the walls feel like they’re closing in. I was talking to someone at work about it yesterday and found that my eyes were watering just saying the words “I feel like a liability”.

It became clear that this is something that is rooted quite deeply into me, that I haven’t quite addressed yet. So I guess in some ways it may be good that this happened, because now I’m a bit more aware of that feeling inside me. But then on the flip side of that, I think but WHY does it happen? It’s incredibly frustrating and sometimes it just becomes so consuming asking these questions over and over and over again in your own head.

I just want to be at the point where I can do something like have friends round, drink, eat dinner, go to bed and sleep. No thoughts, no second guessing, no doubting just simplicity.

So today I’m being about as simple as I could be – I’ve got up early, climbed onto the sofa with a duvet and I put Jurassic Park on and I’m fully preparing to watch the entire series today.

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“Pizza and baked spuds?”

First of all, before I write this next blog post, I’d like to say a MASSIVE MASSIVE thank you to EVERYONE who has spoken to me about the blog post I put up a couple of days ago. I’m gob smacked at the amount of support I’ve had from people – some close friends, some people I haven’t spoken to in a long time and other people I’ve never even met! It’s such a wonderful feeling to see all these people genuinely understanding your dealings with mental health and waving their hands in the air and saying “I get it too!”. Awesome.

However, yesterday was quite hard. My feelings of worry have arisen again, perhaps due to the fact I was so over whelmed by the amount of support I had over the past couple of days. It’s actually quite daunting to receive that when you’ve been used to not only having some people ignore your worries in the past, but also ignoring the feelings yourself. So when I woke up yesterday I didn’t feel at ease and kept getting heart pains and tingling in my legs and arms [all these sensations sending messages to my brain alerting it that I’m going to keel over and have an anxiety attack at any given moment].

I think my main fear after thinking about it a little and trying not to succumb to the anxiety was that now all these wonderful messages had been sent, what was I going to do to mess that up? What false move would I make to stop those kind messages flowing in?

Then I convinced myself that people perhaps hadn’t read my blog properly, and had gone over it since their initial reading and decided “actually this girl is full of it. Half of this stuff is probably a lie anyway,”. You can see how this can spiral into something quite damaging in my own head?

Before I knew it I had kind of gone into myself again yesterday, not really wanting to chat to many people, just wanting to get through the day, get myself home and crawl into my bed and shut the world out for a bit. It’s my go to reaction I think when I’ve had a day of over-thinking and worrying about things. I just turn into my old teenage self.

That’s how I usually see it anyway. I see that there are two sides to my personality, completely split down the middle. One side is my adult self, someone who can quite easily walk into a shop and ask someone which aisle something is in without even thinking about it. The other side of my self however will look to the ground, have a quick browse down an aisle and if I can’t find what I’m looking for, quickly leave before anyone has even realised I was there. Yesterday I was the latter.

I actually read a really interesting article yesterday too, and it was “14 Psychologists Were Asked “What is The Most Profound Thing A Patient Has Ever Said To You?”. [http://www.knowable.com/a/14-psychologists-were-asked:-what-is-the-most-profound-thing-a-patient]

Some of them were hilariously funny, other’s were upsetting and some were just bang on the money, one of them in particular. One patient with an anxiety disorder said, “Imagine if every small decision felt like it had life or death consequences.” and upon reading this I nodded to myself in agreement. I experienced that feeling first hand yesterday in fact.

I was chatting to my boyfriend via Facebook messenger whilst on my lunch break at work, and he threw a question at me that I wasn’t prepared for.

“What would you like for dinner?” and before I could answer he had already asked me another question “What about pizza and a couple of baked spuds?”. My head went into over drive. Over such a trivial question.

I thought “well we’ve only got two big baking potatoes at home, that’s not enough for a couple of baked potatoes each?” Then I thought, “what if they don’t get cooked properly, then they’ll be all hard inside and won’t be very appetising?” Then I started punishing myself for being so ridiculous and not being able to answer such a mundane easy question.

I really feel sorry for my boyfriend, particularly on this occasion. All he wanted was “yes pizza and baked potatoes would be lovely!” but instead he got “I don’t know off the top of my head” which is just drivel in itself.

But that’s genuinely what it is like living with anxiety. Something that comes across as so simple will be magnified in my head and have me asking a million questions when there was only one question put out there in the first place.

When I was driving home last night I had a similar feeling I always get when I’m feeling like this, and it’s really hard to explain but I’ll have a whack at it anyway! I basically drive the same route every day to work, and then back again and when I’m feeling quite anxious and a bit out of sync it’s like the dual carriage way kind of just stretches out for miles and miles, and I feel like I’ve been driving for about 20 years. I’ll have my music going, and it’s just me in the car listening to some music, and I feel like that’s just my little world and whatever is going on outside of that isn’t really real. I’ll look at people in their cars and think what is happening in their little car world at the moment? And yesterday I saw in the car in front of me a woman in the passenger seat repeatedly leaning back to check her baby was okay, and then she took her seat belt off and leaned right back and looked like she was picking something up from the floor that perhaps her baby had dropped. And again I thought, that’s literally their world right now. Nothing going on outside of that really matters. But that’s exactly the feeling I want to stop feeling so much.

I want to look around and realise how vast and huge the world is, and that there is so many good things happening within it, even if there is lots of bad too. It’s just so easy to get sucked into your own head sometimes and think you’re the only car driving along the dual carriage way.

Me and my boyfriend had pizza and salad in the end, and it was really lovely. Thank you Co-Op.

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My Experiences with Anxiety

I’ve repeatedly come back to the idea of doing a blog like this, and the main thing that stopped me was that so many people have written about their struggles with anxiety, and sometimes people react to these depictions negatively and say “well I’ve had this happen to me when I’ve had panic attacks so you’re account can’t be right” or “loads of people get stressed or worried sometimes, that’s part of life” – so when I decided that the time was finally right for me to talk about this, I thought about how to go about it, typing, deleting and re-typing, then I decided just write it so I could process it a little bit more myself with written words, rather than sitting in my counsellor’s conservatory and word vomiting everything in one go. Hopefully by just talking about my own personal experiences perhaps someone may read even a tiny bit, and be able to relate and feel less like they’re wading through a huge vast ocean of anxiety and panic on their own.

After spending some time [and by some time I mean a considerably large amount of time] with a counsellor and working out where my anxiety stems from, it has become clearer to me that although I was raised in a loving home, with parents who would have moved the Earth for me, I was still exposed to quite high levels of anxiety. Our family had it’s problems. And I actually just looked up the definition of that word and according to our lord and savour Google it means the following; “A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.”

This sounds both a bit brutal, and too simple. So if we have a problem we must just think “okay this is unwelcome and harmful, I shall overcome this and be fine” but the reality is, as I’m sure many people know, nothing is as easy as that, especially when it comes to family dynamics and relationships. So growing up I couldn’t really look at certain things that arose in our household and say “okay guys, this is harmful, let’s address this and come together again” because not only would I have been looked at strangely for my sudden burst of emotional awareness, I feel that some of the problems were far too deep rooted for a young, over sensitive baby of the family to do anything about.

I was always described as “sensitive” in my primary school reports, and growing up I never really knew what that meant, I just remember at primary school feeling like an open wound every single day and on the verge of tears nearly all the time. Whether it was in the lunch hall, opening up my lunchbox and realising blackcurrant drink had leaked all over my sandwich but still being made to eat it by the school dinner lady [true story] or if it was that old cliche of being picked last in PE. [I think schools should ban PE all together anyway, if we want to be Olympians we’ll do it in our own time and running around with a bean bag on our head will not make us the next Jessica Ennis].

I remember one particular incident at school when two girls kept running away from me, and point blank ignoring me when I was crying and asking them why they weren’t friends with me anymore, and even now that stirs up a real deep rooted pain, so it just goes to show how your very early experiences stay with you years later.

All these circumstances I was plopped into combined with the constant sensation of walking on egg shells at home due to the high level of anxiety made me really sensitive, and regularly worrying that one wrong move and the world would fall apart around me. As I got a bit older and hit those “awkward teenage years” that feeling was just heightened even further.

When I was 13 my mum got really ill, and I didn’t really see much of her for weeks and she would just stay in her bedroom and the only vivid memory I have of her during this time was when she came downstairs to the kitchen wearing my dad’s dressing gown and she was unrecognisable. She had lost so much weight, and I just remember thinking how my dad’s dressing gown looked like it was swallowing her whole. I feel like my teenage years are entirely shaped around that memory because after that I was really sad and couldn’t understand why no one else at my school seemed to be feeling the same way as I was. Unfortunately, like many teenage girls, the friendship group I was in was riddled with back stabbing and bitchy comments between one another which just makes you paranoid about one bad move causing a ripple effect and you being shunned for the remainder of your days. So once again, I was on edge wherever I was – when I was at school I was panicking about girls saying one thing to my face and another behind my back, and when I was at home I was worrying about my mum withering away into nothing. Another layer of anxiety that would fester and come out when I was older.

When I left school I had some good friends around me at college, but on the flip side of that, I’d got myself into a relationship that was far too toxic and dysfunctional for an 18 year old to be in. I was emotionally abused and bullied in this relationship on a regular basis, and again, walking on those familiar egg shells, not daring to say anything in case it was the wrong thing. On the off chance one day I felt a bit braver and able to stand up for myself, I was quickly reminded that wasn’t my place and was put back down to where I had grown so comfortable. This led me to lose friends and not see my mum or dad very much anymore, because I was completely sucked into a relationship that was never going to end well. Finally I managed to get myself out of this situation by making the best decision of my life and moving away and going to University to study music.

Although this was the best decision I have ever made, it was also the hardest. I moved away from my parents, and into an absolute dive of a house [if you’ve done the student life thing, you know what I’m talking about]. There were slugs crawling around in my bedroom, plates stacked high up in the kitchen covered in two month old pasta and dominos pizza boxes littered across the front room floor. But the main thing was that I was ready to become someone independent and ready for whatever was going to be thrown at me. Unfortunately, all my past upsets had finally festered deep inside my subconscious and I had become someone who would easily become obsessed with one friendship, doing everything I could to make sure that person was okay just so they may do the same for me.

I was willing to put my emotional well being and my physical health at risk, just on the off chance this one person would notice me and give me something I felt that no one ever had. Suffice to say, that never happened, because the sad truth is if someone is willing to bleed you dry like that and do nothing for you in return, they have a whole host of issues themselves. In the end, after my first year of university, and after trying everything I could to make one person in particular give me that unconditional friendship and love, I was emotionally exhausted and drained.

When I entered the second year of my university life, I was at an all time low. I was beginning to realise the effect the relationship I had been in when I was 18 had had on me, and I was starting to realise how I didn’t see friendships in a “normal” way. I felt like a complete freak and completely out of touch with everyone else my own age, and I was living by myself.

To be fair, I didn’t mind living alone, after living with 5 other people in a disgusting student house for a year, it was the peace and quiet I needed, but it also meant I was face to face with my sub conscious every single day and night. I lived by the sea, and regularly I thought I could just walk into the sea and no one would notice or miss me.

I wasn’t anxious anymore, I was depressed. Life had no colour, and I didn’t think I was ever going to get over it. I met my now boyfriend around this time, and it was tough for him. Due to some of the things that happened to me when I was 18, I couldn’t have him touch me, I couldn’t be intimate with him without balling my eyes out and that was when I decided that I needed help. I got a counsellor through my University, I talked about a lot of things and dealt with a lot. I got a bit better, I was still anxious about certain friendships, but I wasn’t depressed anymore so I picked myself up, and took a few cautious steps forward.

I got on with things for a few more years, my boyfriend and I stuck together pushed through any problems that arose and carried on. I managed to graduate with a 2:1, I had formed a band I was deeply passionate about and was working with some amazing musicians, and had a couple of very close friends. Life was pretty good, but then I made the colossal mistake of agreeing to manage the pub I worked at whilst my boss took a trip to America for a month. Not only that, we decided to move in one of the rooms above the pub too. So I was living and working within the same four walls every single day.

My relationship began to get a bit wobbly, I was getting phone calls from the company that owned the pub every day asking me about banking, stock and staff issues. I was 22 and somehow I was trying to run a pub, keep my relationship together and make sure my friends were okay, [because I was still in the habit of putting my own emotions on hold for other people] all at the same time. This was when I experienced my first anxiety attack.

I was sitting on my bed in our bedroom and my boyfriend was talking to me about our relationship, and I was really crying, and then I was suddenly very aware of how fast my heart was beating. My breath became short and quick, and my hand began to tingle, become numb and curl into a claw shape that I couldn’t move no matter how hard I tried. I asked my boyfriend to open the window because I couldn’t breathe and needed air. That’s all I can remember.

I had panic attacks pretty regularly after that. One morning I went downstairs to the pub and I needed to ring the company about something. I started to dial the phone, but the second I heard it ringing my heart started racing, I couldn’t breathe again and had tears streaming down my face. I hung up the phone and just dropped to the floor, hoping that whatever I was feeling would stop as quickly as it had started. The worst attack I had during this time was after speaking to my best friend [who was also my housemate] in his room. I walked out of his bedroom door and the hallway started spinning, I couldn’t feel my legs, was sobbing uncontrollably, and couldn’t breathe and before I knew it I had just collapsed onto the floor and was being helped up by my friend. He was speaking to me but I couldn’t respond, it just sounded like a muffled voice on a phone. I stayed sat there for about half an hour, not moving.

Before I knew it anxiety and panic attacks had become a regular part of my life. I couldn’t go to certain social gatherings for fear of having a panic attack, most nights before I went to sleep I would have that familiar shortness of breath. Thankfully I had my boyfriend speaking calmly next to me, telling me to breathe deeply and he’d just sit with me until I was ready to try and get to sleep. We eventually moved out of the pub, and I left that job behind.

We found an amazing flat, and I got myself an absolute dream job. Life was the best it could be. But I was still suffering with my anxiety and crippling panic attacks. I decided, now I had an amazing job I loved, and a flat without slugs crawling around, it was time I dealt with this head on, and peeled away everything that had ever happened. No matter how hard or painful.

I went back to the same counsellor I had seen whilst studying, I bought up my family life, my school experiences, the abusive relationship I had been in when I was 18 and all the people I had ever put on a pedestal and bent over backwards for. It was tough, and painful and I spent quite a few sessions just crying about things I hadn’t thought about for years. I was also taking medication for my panic attacks, just to take the edge off.

I had my last counselling session last week.

The progress I’ve made in recent months is more than I ever thought possible. I’m finally beginning to develop a real strong sense of what kind of person I want to be, and my confidence is growing more every day. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m okay with that.

Some social situations will continue to be a bit daunting for me, it just takes practice. I’ll still have some days where I will feel anxious the second I open my eyes in the morning, but I can now take certain steps to ease that and make the day a bit easier. It’s just about being kind to yourself on those tough days. It’s easy to punish yourself and think “why am I not like everyone else? Why does no one else seem like they struggle with normal stuff like me?” but everyone has their difficulties they’re overcoming every day.

The best thing I can do now is if I feel an anxiety attack coming on is just think, it’ll pass. I’ve had this happen before, and it’ll pass. I shut my eyes and zone into one or two sounds I can hear around me, whether it’s the washing machine or a car outside or my boyfriend typing on his laptop in the study. Just zoning into those things and grounding yourself as much as you can until those sensations decide to loosen their grip.

If you have managed to read through this huge post, thank you for spending time out of your day to see what I have to say. And if you have read through this post and have suffered with anxiety yourself, you’re not alone. Trust me.

“Is it useful to feel fear, because it prepares you for nasty events, or is it useless, because nasty events will occur whether you are frightened or not?” – Lemony Snicket

 

 

 

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