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.

94 Comments

  1. 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 ❤️

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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/

  5. 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!

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

  11. 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

  12. 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.

    1. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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

    1. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    Kathryn x

  21. 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 💛

  22. 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 ❤️

  23. 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.

    1. 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

  24. 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:)

  25. 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! 💛

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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