Today I have decided to open up to you a bit. Since it is Mental Health Awareness week, I want to talk to you about anxiety. Or more specifically, my anxiety. I have tried to write about this twice in the past, but chickened out, but I want to try and be more open about this and to talk to people about it. I never really talk about this and not many people know about it with me, but I want to try and discus it with you in the hopes that I can, I don’t know, raise awareness and show people that they aren’t alone. So, lets just get down to it, before I lose my nerve.
I started to develop anxiety when I was about 13 or 14. I’m not sure exactly when I became aware that something wasn’t right, but I knew something was off. I never felt, I don’t know, right. I was nearly constantly anxious, although I didn’t know that was what it was at the time. All I know was that I would constantly be uneasy. I would worry about everything and anything. I over analysed things and caused myself to become even more uneasy. I started to have issues sleeping because of it. I couldn’t concentrate, I would feel mildly nauseous pretty much constantly because of it. And then I started to get panic attacks. Again, I had no idea what was happening to me. All I knew was that I would get these, episodes, where my heart would be pounding, I couldn’t breath, I felt the need to run away, I would shake and cry and I couldn’t stop it, and when it was finally over, I would be so weak and feel so sick and I didn’t know how to stop it, or why it was happening.
I didn’t talk to anyone about it for a very long time. At first it was because I had no idea what was happening and I was worried people would think I was insane. Then by the time I realised I needed to talk to someone, I couldn’t. Some shit had gone down and I didn’t trust anyone in my family. I felt like I couldn’t talk to them about it. So I just carried on in silence. I slowly realised that certain things made it all worse and I started to avoid those things. I made many mistakes on how to cope. For a while I even used anger as defence. My biggest mistake by far was when I decided a clean start would help, so I went to a collage that no one I knew was going to, that was a 30 minute train ride away (never do this). I basically isolated myself, because I honestly, thought that I was broken.
It got to the stage when I was about 17 where I had a grand total of 2 friends, one from high school, one from collage (my only friend at collage, because interacting with people I don’t know, made me anxious and would give me a panic attack), I didn’t really go out or do anything. I went to collage and then came home and sat in my room. My grades where dropping because I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was lucky if I was getting one full nights sleep a week and I was honestly thinking that it might be easy to just end it. That’s when I finally found out what was wrong with me. I was sitting in my room at 3 am watching YouTube when I accidentally stumbled across a video by someone I had never heard off (Zoella) talking about Anxiety. The more she talked the more things clicked into place. And I realised what was wrong. What had been going on for long. I finally knew what was wrong.
I remember I spent every spare minute for the next like 2 weeks looking up everything I could about anxiety and panic attacks. Finding out what causes it, how to cope with it, ways to improve it and so on. I finally understood. At this point, I should have spoken to my family, but I still didn’t. There are many reasons why I didn’t, and in-case a member of my family reads this, I don’t want them to feel bad, so I’m going to go into it, but I didn’t talk to anyone. I taught myself ways to try and control my anxiety, breathing techniques and all that stuff. I slowly identified things that made me anxious or gave me panic attacks and started trying to find methods to cope with them. And slowly I got a handle on things.
I managed to get myself a job and start being a little more social again and it worked, for about 3 months. Then it all went to shit again. I know this was my fault. During autumn 2015, I broke myself. I was working two jobs, one in retail, one as an admin assistant in a school. I was spending my whole life running from one to the other. I also really hated one of them and dreaded going there each morning. I was so stressed out. I had no social life, no time to distract myself with books or friends or, well, anything. I just couldn’t cope. I was constantly anxious. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I constantly felt so sick I couldn’t keep anything down, I was having near daily panic attacks. It was horrific. It went on like this for about a month and a half. I can prove how bad it was. In that couple of months I dropped from a dress size 14, bordering 16, to an 8. (not many people know this story, they just assumed I was eating healthier or something). It got to the stage where I would just lay awake all night, thinking that I was dying, because nothing I did was making it better.
Eventually things did start to turn around and there are two things that happened to do that. The first is I started this blog. It was exactly what I needed. Somewhere where I could just talk about anything and feel safe. Somewhere I could express myself. It was a distraction from everyday life (hence why I called my blog Escape From Reality). The second thing that helped was that I finally talked to someone. I asked my best friend to meet me and we sat in a little American dinner in Brighton and I told her everything. About how it started, what was happening, how I was feeling and she just listened. She admitted to me later that she had also had issues with anxiety and panic attacks and hadn’t spoken to anyone either. This helped me so much. It was like a weight had been lifted. I wasn’t dealing this on my own any more When I things I got bad, I knew she was there. Over the next couple of months I told my other best friend about it and started to be more open and things got better.
I still don’t discus this very often or with many people, although I am trying. My work know a bit about it (so now if i have a panic attack at work, I don’t try to hide it. They just let me take some time away from everyone to get through it), my best friends know and my sister knows enough to look out for me. It is my goal this year is to get proper control of it. I still put off so much and stay clear of so many things because I am scared of how I will react to them, but I want this to change. I want to get a new job, I don’t want to have panic attacks thinking about job interviews and the future. I want to meet new people and do new things. I don’t want to let my anxiety control me any more And most of all, I want my parents to know. I want them to understand me more. To understand why I avoid certain things. Why I sometimes wont speak for hours or suddenly go silent. I want my family to know me a bit better.
And most off all I want you to know me. I want you to know that if you are feeling this way, your are not alone. I want you to know that I am always here and I will always listen to you. I don’t want people to suffer in silence like I did. I want to be happy and I want you to be too. So please, I know it is hard (believe me, I made myself cry while writing this), but please, lets all try to be open and try to talk about this, try to understand it and help others. And also know that help is out there. I have included some information bellow as to where you can find help. I hope that you have found today’s post helpful or enlightening, I don’t know, and I will try to talk about this much more openly in the future. I will see you all again very soon.
Mind UK – 0300 123 3393 (or text 86463)
Smaraitans – 116 123
Crisis Helpline (USA) – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
My Email Address – firstname.lastname@example.org (I check it daily)