Mental Health

Who Am I Without My Anxiety Disorder?

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.

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85 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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

  2. So so happy to hear this! How far you’ve come is inspiring, hope you’re well!

    1. Thanks so much! <3

  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!

    1. Thanks so much. There definitely isn’t a right or wrong way. Just about finding what works for you I guess! xxx

  4. Toni Pomfret says:

    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

  5. Boss Babe Chronicles says:

    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.

    1. Thank you <3 xxx

  6. 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

    1. Thank you, I do hope so! xxx

  7. 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 💛

    1. Thank you! <3 xxx

  8. 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 ❤️

    1. Thank you 🙂 xxx

  9. 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

  10. 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:)

    1. Thank you so much xxx

  11. 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! 💛

    1. This is one of the nicest comments EVER. Thank you so much, it means the world xxxxx

      1. Anytime! I genuinely meant every word 💛

  12. 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

    1. I agree! I’m glad you can relate and share your own experience! xxx

  13. 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

    1. Thanks so much! I feel good – it’s just a confusing feeling! xxx

  14. 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

    1. That’s great to hear. You seem to be handling lockdown pretty well then! xxx

  15. 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

    1. You should try medication. If you don’t like it, come off it!

  16. 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.

    1. Thank you so much. It was a weird one to write for sure. I have faith that you’ll be there someday <3 xxx

  17. 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

    1. 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

  18. 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

    1. 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

  19. Sarah says:

    I have been fighting anxiety for a few years and it’s really tough. xx

    1. Sorry to hear that x

  20. Lauren says:

    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/

    1. Thank you so much xxx

  21. 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.

    1. Blogging and writing things down can help so much! xxx

  22. 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.

    1. Thank you! I hope so <3 xxx

  23. 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

    1. 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

  24. thank you for sharing this, I feel its a a big part that no one acknowledges but super affecting. xx

    1. Totally agree xxx

  25. 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

    1. Agree x

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