So today I thought I’d talk about a very personal topic.
This post is inspired my friend Abbie over at abbienicolex.com . I found her post on anxiety really helpful at the time, and personally I thought it was so brave of her to put such a personal thing online and open herself up to strangers like that. You can check out Abbie’s post here
This is quite a hard post to write, I’m quite a stubborn and proud person and I know that there might be people out there who sneer at this, or people who might laugh or enjoy the fact I was struggling or whatever, but if this post helps one person who is going through the same thing then for me that makes it worth it.
I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person, I worry A LOT. It got more intense at uni, there was so much to stress and worry about with my work, personal life etc. Was my work good enough, what was going to happen after uni, the list goes on. There was always something to keep me awake at night and that’s the time I started to struggle with sleeping too which made everything worse. Then when I left uni, the same thing happened lots of situations to worry about and lose sleep over.
Things got a lot better when I decided to be on my own for a bit, it meant I only had to concentrate on me which made eased a lot of the pressure and meant I could spend sometime sorting my head out. I found a job I loved, a partner who was supportive and I already had an amazing group of friends and life got a little more chilled out.
Then I switched the units I worked at and it turned out that was a huge trigger for my anxiety. For those of you who don’t know I was social care support worker for adults with autism. I loved my job, the staff team was fantastic and my service users were amazing. However it came with a lot of responsibility and me being the overthinker I am it was too much at once. It probably seems a very dramatic to say but with the job I do, you are in essence responsible for peoples lives and have a duty of care to keep those individuals safe and I found it very overwhelming. There would also be times where I would have to work alone overnight, which I found so frightening, because the responsibility to keep these people safe was all on my shoulders. I’d do overnights and not actually go to sleep (I was allowed to sleep and paid to sleep) because I was terrified something bad would happen and I’d sleep through it. On the odd time I drifted off for an hour, I’d have nightmares about something happening to my service users and I’d wake up in a cold sweat, not being able to breathe properly. I’d do 24 hour shifts with no sleep, and then worry even more because I was so tired I didn’t feel like I could trust my own mind with important things such as medication handling. Then I’d go home and worry that I’d done something wrong or made an error somewhere and despite not having any sleep for 24 hours I’d still be up until 3am the following night worrying about life. I was walking around like a zombie, constantly on edge and the smallest things would make me want to burst into tears. I felt like I was going crazy.
Initially I went to see my doctor about my trouble sleeping and eventually ended up telling her how much I was struggling with the things going on in my life. I was offered the choice between medication or cognitive behavioural therapy, which is basically retraining your reactions to all these negative emotions. I was sceptical at first, but the these sessions went on they were actually really helpful. Just having somebody to talk things through who could give me an unbiased opinion. These also got me thinking about some changes I could make in my life, to reduce my anxiety. Instead of letting it consume me, I let it be my motivator instead. Hence the big life changes I spoke about in “So What’s New?”
I agree with Abbie’s post about anxiety becoming a trend, and people treating it as a fashion, especially with big Youtubers like Zoella suffering from it. On one hand its good that its raising awareness, but on the other hand I think it trivialise it as well, as the word anxiety just gets thrown around and it detracts from the seriousness of it.
Anxiety isn’t just feeling a bit worried. It’s consuming, exhausting and takes over your entire life. It left me feeling like I was a failure, and pathetic. 25 years old and I couldn’t get through the day without my stomach churning with anxiety and feeling like I wanted to cry all the time. I felt so ashamed too, everybody else seemed to be coping so what was wrong with me? I do think anxiety gets glamorised quite a lot,with pretty memes and “motivational quotes” online, but in reality these aren’t really helpful. These can actually make you feel worse. Things like that trivialise mental illness and make it sound so easy to recover, but in reality it really isn’t. To anybody suffering from any kind of mental illness its a long tough road to getting it under control.
But now I realise that there was nothing wrong with me, I just had a lot of very stressful situations combined with not sleeping, and as the doctor said to me anybody would have struggled with it. And now, I feel a hell of a lot better. I still have my moments, but I can get through them.
To anybody suffering with anxiety, don’t suffer in silence. It’s not your fault and don’t be afraid to speak to somebody. And don’t let anybody trivialise what your going through. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Making that first step and going to see a professional is really intimidating, but for me it was the best thing I even did.
Feel free to leave comments under here with your experiences or questions (I might do a full post on ways to cope, etc) I’m by no way an expert on anxiety, but I hope sharing my experience might help anybody reading it.