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.