Today marks the end of Mental Health Awareness week. I have read many inspirational stories about anxiety, depression, PTSD, PND, OCD etc. Those sharing their journeys with mental health issues being brave enough to wear their fight on their sleeve, for the whole world to see.
I wasn’t going to do that.
I was going to keep quiet and fly under the radar as I have done my entire life in fear of ill thought or rejection. I was going to plod on, keep calm and stay quiet like always. Say nothing and keep my scars hidden where no one can see to pass judgement on them.
I am unashamedly proud.
It’s definitely something that has decended through the women in my family. I hate to admit when I am struggling. It takes a lot for me to ask for help and I hate to be made a fuss of. Even on a day when I am at my lowest, if you ask how I am or what I’ve been up to. I will just reply ‘I’m good thank you, how are you?’
As a little girl I was extremely outgoing, sociable, confident. Nothing seemed to phase me or damage my self esteem. Growing up became difficult, we experienced a series of traumatic events as a family. I’d like to say it didn’t change me but that wouldn’t be honest of me. Somethings do change you, whether for the better or for the worse, certain circumstances do impact the very fabric of your being.
I became reserved, quite introverted, and more worried about what other people thought about me. The older I got, the more nervous and self conscious I felt.
I suffered with Anxiety before fully knowing what the word meant. The overwhelming fear that something terrible was going to happen, whilst clear to those around you everything was perfectly okay. The nerves, the panic attacks, the limiting beliefs, that little voice inside your head telling you,
‘You’re no good!’
Like everyone else who has good days and bad days, I have them too.
You develop habits and perfect coping mechanisms to help see you through moments of high anxiety but it’s always there, merely restrained. To this day my anxiety affects me in many different ways and in every area of my life.
I can be pretty overbearing at times. I am on them 23.99/7 all while worrying my anxiety will transfer onto them. I fear for their safety and constantly mither them when we’re out, warning them of all the dangers around. I worry for their health and get fussy when they won’t eat their vegatables. I hate to see them upset in any way and I’m conscious of anything that could damage their self esteem. I care for their mental health too. I can’t bare to send either Riley or Sonny into school in a bad mood and will talk with them outside their classroom until I’m happy they’ll be okay, if that doesn’t work I’ll make sure the teacher takes over for me. I never send them to bed without a bedtime story (or 2 or 3) a cuddle and a goodnight kiss. I love you lots are the last words they hear from me before they go to sleep each night.
I am a perfectionist. I can’t stand leaving work unfinished and I can’t do rushed half hearted peices of work. I say ‘Yes’ to everything for fear of disappointing somebody. Overtime when I’m tired and missing my family. Yes, happy to help. More work when my plate is already full. Yes, I’d love to help you with that. I suck when it comes to dealing with people who are unhappy.
Anxiety means peeing 13 times in the hour before I go to work despite having worked at the same place with mostly the same people for the last 2 years! Ridiculous right?
My Social Life
I find myself to be pretty awkward in social situations. I overthink everything. Down to the way I’m sitting and to ‘what the hell am I meant to be doing with my hands when I’m walking.’
I am self conscious, my inner voice likes to remind me all the time. ‘Do I not laugh and look like a serious bitch? or do I just keep laughing like a dork? … Oh my gosh, I do sound like an dork when I laugh!’ I’m irrational too. ‘They must hate me, did they mean to look at me funny? Were they just talking about me?’
I socialise better in small groups of people I am already familiar with or just one to one coffee and cake style. New people scare the crap out of me!
I have been in a few horrendous relationships. I have always settled for the kind of people my inner voice tells me I deserve nothing more than. In turn they treated me the same way I treated myself, with little to no respect.
Then I met Joe and everything changed. He literally is my saviour, he’s seen me at my best and at my very worst. Without him I wouldn’t have been brave enough to put myself out there and achieve all I have these last few years.
However anxiety means I drive him nuts! (He’ll read this I’m sure and agree) I check up on him to see if he’s okay. If he’s not home from work on time or if I can’t contact him I panic. I imagine the worst possible thing has happened, I’m then wondering how on earth I could cope without him and begin planning what I’d say at his funeral. I hate confrontation and I’m usually always the first to apologise. (Even when he really is in the wrong 😉)
I recall coming home after collecting the boys from school one afternoon and finding an unlit match on my front door step. I still to this day don’t know how it got there but the chances of it being one of us are extremely unlikely. I remember picking it up and putting it straight in the outside wheely bin. I quickly ushered the kids inside, removed both net curtains from the front and back door and phoned Joe mid panic attack. I saw it as a warning that someone was going to set fire to our house. Joe as always calm and unphased, lovingly told me to calm my rediculous self down and stop being so dramatic.
Although I sometimes joke, anxiety is difficult to live with. I have been reluctant to turn to medication, I don’t even take paracetamol unless I’m desperate. Often people say things like ‘just forget about it, don’t worry about it’ but it’s easier said than done.
Some days I survive, waking up as tired as I felt the night before, the effects of yesterday’s anxieties leaving me exhausted still. On those days, I get out of bed regardless and do what I need to do. There are things on my to do list that I let slide onto tomorrows list, with the hope that’ll be a better one.
Other days I thrive, I set goals and I go out and smash them. I always make the most of a good day.
I won’t let anxiety hold me back.
I didn’t back then.
And I won’t start now.