ad // I don’t write these generally rambling and personal blog posts often. But this is something that’s been on my mind, more of less since the New Year. And I’m still not quite sure where I’m at with it. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’ve struggled with very severe anxiety. It started in 2011 and turned my ENTIRE life upside down. If you wanna get caught up with all that, this post is a good place to start.
I’m not going to go into detail about how my anxiety disorder affected me in this particular post (I wrote about it in quite a bit of depth in my book, Finding Your Way Back To You, which you can pre-order using the link – it was pretty draining to write so I’m not prepared to do it again right now!)
Last year I was sent to group therapy, which ran for 11 weeks. When that 11 weeks was up, the therapists would assess you based on answers you gave to a form you had to fill out every week, with scores from 1-5 on how you’re feeling under certain categories: Generalised Anxiety Disorder (me) and depression. These forms also helped you identify if you were feeling suicidal and other various things the therapists could pick up on and intervene with if necessary.
At the beginning of this year, I got a letter through the post from the mental health services who ran this course. They were pleased with the progress I’d made in the 11 weeks (yay) and based on the answers I’d given and what they saw from the group…
I scored a zero for anxiety and depression.
Which means, medically speaking…
I don’t have an anxiety disorder anymore.
For the last 8/9 years of my life, I’ve been defined by my generalised anxiety disorder. Everything I do, everything I work towards and every excuse I make, circles back to my anxiety. Now what?
I’ll be honest, I’ve not tried to put this into words yet because I don’t quite know how. But it feels… weird.
The thing that changed my ENTIRE life…
The thing that lost me all my friends.
The thing that stripped me of my independence.
The thing that made my life a living hell for years.
The thing that made me terrified of myself…
Is gone. It’s just… gone.
And I shouldn’t be surprised because I have worked SO HARD over the last few years to beat my anxiety, to manage my anxiety, to find coping techniques and push myself out of y comfort zone. I’ve worked harder on this than I have on anything else in my entire life.
But there’s still that sense of, what now?
I still feel anxious at times. Of course I do. But not enough to actively warrant a diagnosis any more.
My anxiety isn’t affecting my daily life to the point where it would be considered abnormal any more.
And although I’m on medication which seriously helped and probably was the turning point in all of this, I don’t really know what to do with the information.
Who am I without my anxiety disorder?
Because in all honesty, I still feel like I have one. Not because I’m overwhelmingly anxious all the time. Not because anxiety is stopping me doing everything anymore. But because anxiety and I have been side by side for SO long. It’s ruined my life but it’s also made my life what it is today…
I don’t know how I feel without it.
I’m not the person I was before my anxiety disorder.
I am SO FAR from that person that just looking at photos of myself from “before” feels weird. It feels like I’m looking at a different person entirely. I just don’t recognise myself.
Anxiety has shaped me and molded me and transformed me into someone totally different.
I don’t know whether the “me” I am now is the “me” I was always supposed to be. I think it probably is.
It just took this great big almighty anxiety journey for me to get there. Some people find themselves through travel. Or art. Or music.
I found myself in hell.
So whilst right now, doing things without that constant feeling of anxiety in my chest, stomach and hanging over my head, feels a little weird…
I’m hoping it’ll become more normal over time. As of right now, I still kinda feel like I’m missing a limb. That my safety blanket has been stolen from me. I’m still not quite sure what I’m capable of.
Only time will tell.
I’m certainly not judgmental when it comes to mental illness and how people cope with theirs. Of course, we all want those healthy coping mechanisms but if having a glass of wine, enjoying some junk food or even gambling (especially low-key gambling like doing 10 free spins with no deposit from 10 darmowych spinów bez depozytu) is fine within moderation!
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I relate to this so much. I’ve never had extremely bad anxiety, but I am diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and with depression. And I feel the same way about my depression as you do about your anxiety. My medication helps me greatly, and I’ve learned some coping techniques (that I’m not always so good at following, haha), and my life has turned for the better recently. But it was so weird in fighting it because it felt like fighting myself. After having depression so long – and from a young age – it becomes part of your identity, just like you felt with your anxiety. It’s hard to learn who you are without it, and it’s sometimes scary to leave it since it’s practically all you know. But I’ve learned to be happy and active. I’ve started a job and am trying to build up my friendships and go out more. It really helps to have support. Always remember you’re not alone ❤️
Thank you for sharing your story. I totally agree and I’m so glad you’re feeling better!
Late to the party here, but it’s great that you’ve reached a place where you can look back and say, that’s not me anymore. I am fighting depression and I’ve reached a place where I’m feeling better, more hopeful, that I have a future. But I am going through the “who am I?” stage and sometimes I get a temptation to go back. But I remind myself of how it was, and it ain’t worth losing what I’ve gained.
Thank you. It’s definitely a weird feeling but you’ll get there. So glad you’re feeling better too.
It’s so good you’ve managed to come through GAD, my son is diagnosed with it, as well as a whole host of other other things, but it’s the anxiety issues that cause all the major problems he has.
I’m sorry to hear that. Always about if you need a chat or advice – I’ve got a lot of experience to share!
This was such an emotional post to read but I’m glad you are comfortable sharing your story. Losing that diagnosis I think always feels like you’re losing a bit of your personality, it’s tough to get your head around but it just means that your anxiety is no longer in control. I’m so happy for you that you are in a better place now x
Abi | https://whatabigailsays.co.uk/
I really does feel like a part of me is lost a bit, I agree! Thank you for reading lovely x
I have and still do suffer with anxiety and panic disorder since I was 5. Nothing I do helps
Oh wow, Jenny, I loved this more personal and raw post. It’s so brave of you to say this as I bet a lot of people feel it but don’t know how to express it. I feel like I’d be the exact same if I had been told I no longer have anxiety. It almost feels like it’s a part of who I am, it affects everything I do or think and without that diagnosis I honestly think I’d feel a bit lost! But then I look at you, and how far you’ve come and what you’re achieving and I just think… it would be worth feeling lost for a while if it meant I also felt free. You’re amazing and a complete inspiration – you’ve turned your whole life around and I’m so proud of you!
Thank you!!! I totally agree with what you said about feeling lost but free – that’s definitely how I feel! Like, I still didn’t do a number of things even AFTER I was told I didn’t have anxiety because I thought “no I can’t do that, I’d be too anxious”, almost like an automatic response to an email. It’s so weird!
Sending a big hug to start with. It must have taken a lot to be able to write this post and you should be proud that you’re able to, somehow, put it into words, even if it is saying you don’t know what these words are. I think this makes complete sense: you can’t just change your everyday feelings and activities even if what is holding you back is no longer present.
I totally agree. Thanks so much lovely xxx
Thank you for sharing this Jenny. It’s bold and brave, and I admire that so much. I know you’re going to find your way in this new chapter, and it’s going to suit you in the best way possible xxx <3
Thank you so much xxx
It must feel so freeing yet confusing. Take each day at a time, you’ll start to adjust to living without it x
That’s exactly what it feels like! x
I feel like you are one of these people who can do just about anything you put your mind to. It is so wonderful to see how you rise up to a challenge. Keep dreaming and doing and just being yourself. Your honesty with yourself and others is such an attribute; people who are free to be themselves are so very blessed.
Awh thank you that’s a lovely thing to say x
Thank you so much for being so open with your audience and sharing so much of yourself!! I really admire you
Thank you babe x
This was a thought-provoking read, as mental health and identity really do go hand in hand (but it’s not something that’s talked about much). I struggle with this every year with my SAD – I honestly feel like I’m a different person in the winter – the SAD version of Hannah, I guess – than during the summer and it’s really quite strange. Knowing that you’ve come out of the other side and you’ll just keep moving forwards will help you to deal with it though, and eventually you’ll look back and the anxiety will be like thinking about you when you were a child – still you, but a different time.
I do hope that’s the case. I kind of feel like that now but I guess it’s a little too early at the moment!
You have come so far Jenny, I can definitely relate to how you’re feeling. I also feel like my anxiety is a big part of me, I feel like I still have a little way to go personally but it’s lovely to see your journey and how far you have come, you should be super proud of yourself, you have achieved so much!
Thank you so much lovely xxxx
It is great that you do not have anxiety disorder anymore! The battle is always hard to go through, and it really contributes to who you are. However, you are in control of who you want to become. Sometimes, we discover ourselves not at the best places, but we make the best out of it xx
Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me
That’s really true, I’ve discovered a lot more about myself through the hard times than the good xxx
Congratulations on getting to where you are, it’s not an easy thing to do. I understand how confusing this can be. It takes time but it will become your new normal and though you won’t ever forget the anxiety and the feelings that come with it, when faced with situations that would have caused you anxiety and no longer do it will become your new normal. It takes time but you learn to deal with those emotions as well. I hope to get back there again one day soon 🙂 Good luck going forward.
You’re so right. Thank you xxx
Thank you for sharing this !
Thank you so much for sharing this Jenny! You’ve come such a long way and should be so proud! I really hope one day I can say I’ve overcome my anxiety but it just feels so far away, it’s been part of me for years now and I feel like I can barely even remember what it was like not to live with it! xx
Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk
I’m the same but you’ll get there. It really does feel like it’ll be this way forever sometimes but at some point you’ll surprise yourself and realise that you dont feel quite the same as you did before! xxx
Thank you for sharing. Suffering from anxiety is VERY draining and I can understand how you’re feeling right now; however, you’re so strong and you will get through this no matter what.
Thank you x
That must be such a confusing thing to fo through – all to be told its over. Your strength is wonderful to see though.
Mollie | https://mollieclarke.co.uk
It’s pretty confusing! Thank you <3
This was such a soul bearing post, thank you for sharing and good to hear the progress you have made.
Thank you so much <3
Thanks so much for your honesty and for sharing your thoughts. Healing is something we go through step-by-step and I think rebuilding yourself is a process that should never be rushed. Hang in there!
Thank you. And totally agree. Definitely not something to be rushed!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I think it is safe to say that it is always okay when you feel two big emotions at once- both things can be true. ♥️ The freedom existing in the struggle.
I totally agree, both things can definitely be true! <3
Thank-you for this!
I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety, and then PTSD a few years ago. It’s been such a rollercoaster, and I can’t imagine what it’ll feel like to score zero. You give me hope that I can, one day!
You will! And if you don’t, that’s cool too 🙂 It’s certainly a confusing thing. But it’s important to remember how different all our experiences are xxx
So so happy to hear this! How far you’ve come is inspiring, hope you’re well!
Thanks so much! <3
Thanks for sharing this! It must be so difficult to move aware from something that you’ve been identifying with for so long. I don’t think there’s any one right or wrong way to deal with this. I’m glad you’re feeling better though and have worked so hard to tackle your anxiety. Even just a post like this is such proof of your hard work and reflection! Sending big virtual hugs!
Thanks so much. There definitely isn’t a right or wrong way. Just about finding what works for you I guess! xxx
This was an incredibly honest thing to write – thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s amazing to hear that you dealt with your anxiety and depression – I think that my anxiety is built into me as a person. It’s at my core – but I’ve used therapy to learn how to live with anxiety and to manage it. My therapist always said I should give myself credit, my anxiety makes me a very good risk assessor 😉 I hope you are doing well – and keep being kind to yourself! Toni x
I totally agree, anxiety DOES have that benefit! We discussed that in group therapy – the benefits of anxiety! I’m glad you’re having therapy and it’s helped you learn how to live with your anxiety xxx
I’m sure this wasn’t very easy to write. Thank you for sharing your story, Jenny. I’m sure it can resonate with many others.
Thank you <3 xxx
What a brave post to write. Well done on your hard work and how far you’ve come. You will have helped so many people with this post. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you, I do hope so! xxx
You should be so proud to even write this post and talk about it! Thank you for sharing your story, it can be so hard but I love learning and understanding other people 💛
Thank you! <3 xxx
I can relate to this. I had packing anxiety before going on any trips. But, I overcame that problem recently. I do not post about myself in my blogs either. It’s very brave if you to use this platform to talk about the anxiety topic. Thanks for sharing this ❤️
Thank you 🙂 xxx
I am so proud of your progress! I hope you are too, because clearly you are a strong and beautiful woman. It’s always difficult when something completely changes our lives and there is absolutely no going back to anything familiar or what we once knew as normal. Who am I now? What do I do with myself? Under different circumstances, I’ve experienced that as well. Unfortunately I don’t have a magical answer. Just be you and be patient as you develop a new normal. But don’t forget the path that brought you to today, and be proud of that journey. Please continue to share these moments so I can be there to support you and/or celebrate with you too.
Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It really is all about finding your new normal but also not forgetting how you got there – which I certainly won’t forget xxx
Thank you for sharing the details of your journey but also the concerns in being able to move forward and re-shape your life thereafter. This was such a brave and honest account to read of the situation:)
Thank you so much xxx
I can relate to this so much! I was on medication for my anxiety and depression for a year and when I felt well enough to come off them, it definitely took a period of adjustment for me to realise who I was without the cloud of it all hanging over me. I for one, really appreciate and admire who you are, your kindness, thoughtfulness and general creativity and drive is incredible. I know it’s a gradual process and something that you’ll work through but thank you for being so honest and open and admitting this. Vulnerability is so beautiful to see, it’s a strength and you’re so brave for sharing your experiences with us all. Sending lots of love as always! 💛
This is one of the nicest comments EVER. Thank you so much, it means the world xxxxx
Anytime! I genuinely meant every word 💛
When I recovered from depression my biggest fear was trying to figure out who I’d be without the thing that had defined me for so long. I know the feeling !
But the person you become is always so much more healthier , kinder and happier !
Sending you love !
Nons Mshengu | cherbelleblog.wordpress.com
I agree! I’m glad you can relate and share your own experience! xxx
You are capable of so much!!!!!!!!! Having anything for that many years and then finding it gone is going to be odd, but now you can focus on who you’re truly meant to be without being held back. I hope you feel better soon and that you begin to feel you can do everything and anything again. Best wishes!! Xxxxx
Thanks so much! I feel good – it’s just a confusing feeling! xxx
I love your honesty here Jenny and it seems you’ve come such a long way and you should be so proud of yourself, I have suffered anxiety in the past, thankfully I haven’t had an attack in quite a while and I was expecting to have a few during this lockdown! x
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
That’s great to hear. You seem to be handling lockdown pretty well then! xxx
I haven’t been diagnosed but anxiety is something I live with constantly – I’d love to try medication to see if it help and I think it must be so strange to have less anxiety! xx
You should try medication. If you don’t like it, come off it!
Incredibly raw post, this seems like something that would be insanely difficult to write. It seems you’ve grown from the person you were before anxiety, sounds like you’ve got stronger and increased self awareness. That’s awesome. I’m still relatively at the beginning of my journey with depression so I hope to write something like this one day.
Thank you so much. It was a weird one to write for sure. I have faith that you’ll be there someday <3 xxx
Thank you for being so honest! I still remember when you battled some of the bigger hurdles like going to the cinema or a restaurant alone, and it’s amazing to see how far you’ve come. But I definitely relate to an extent, no one wants to feel crippled by a disorder but when you’re so used to something it almost becomes and identified and without it, it’s like you have to rebuild your personality.
I’m still on my journey, pills and therapy didn’t work so it’s onto something new. And nice to see I’m not alone! Lovely post xxx
Anika | chaptersofmay.com
Thank you so much. It’s such an odd feelings. I’m sorry to hear those things didn’t work for you. I hope you find something that does xxx
Thank you for sharing such an honest post. I really get where you’re coming from with this – when I had EMDR for my emetophobia years ago it became apparent that part of the reason why I was so reluctant was down to the fact I’d lived with it for so long and didn’t really know who I was or what to do without it. It’s fantastic that your hard work has paid off but I really relate to how you feel about it all – there’s so much focus on how to get to recovery but not so much on what happens after you get to that point. You’re definitely not alone in how you’re feeling! Wishing you all the best, you’ve got this! xx
I totally agree. At some points in my journey I feel like I’ve hung on to my anxiety because it’s all I know xxx
I have been fighting anxiety for a few years and it’s really tough. xx
Sorry to hear that x
What a beautifully honest post. It’s amazing that you’ve made so much progress and I hope in time things start to feel more normal for you, the way they should feel.
Lauren | https://www.laurenyloves.co.uk/
Thank you so much xxx
I am happy for you. I’ve noticed that I feel much better after blogging about my problems, so I always write when I’m upset, when something annoys me. I only know in theory what it means to have problems so serious that you need a psychologist, but I’m glad every time I find out about people who have managed to get rid of them.
Blogging and writing things down can help so much! xxx
I loved reading this, it’s no honest and I completely get where you’re coming from. It’s so difficult when the thing that has ruled your life for so long is gone and I’m so pleased your speaking out about how you feel because it will undoubtedly help a lot of people.
Thank you! I hope so <3 xxx
Thank you for sharing this Jenny. You’ve worked so hard so what an amazing achievement but I get how weird it must feel for you!!
I’m at the start of my journey. I’ve had anxiety for years but it’s now getting to the stage where it’s causing me to overthink everything and my brain is thinking all the scenarios about all the things (I think lockdown has made it a whole lot worse). I saw my GP last year who prescribed Sertraline but I decided not to take it at the time. I’m waiting for a call from the GP today so I can ask if I can go back on it! xx
Holly | http://www.gollymissholly.uk
I’m not surprised that lockdown has made it worse – this situation is awful! I saw your tweets about being on Sertaline so I assume the doctors call went well? xx
thank you for sharing this, I feel its a a big part that no one acknowledges but super affecting. xx
Totally agree xxx
I totally understand your comments about anxiety. I have suffered years with it so I can relate to your feelings. Many people do not understand how it can affect someone so deeply x