Anxiety sucks. There’s no two ways about it. It can be overwhelming, entirely consuming and completely life-changing and I’ve certainly experience all 3 of those feelings since I developed Generalised Anxiety Disorder in 2011. I wrote about my experience in more depth here but since then (goodness me, it literally does seem like a lifetime ago), my anxiety has chopped and changed quite dramatically. And it’s no surprise really because things change all the time. There was a point in time where I had to eat sort of, every hour because I was terrified I was going to faint. Which stemmed from an episode of the flu where I almost actually did faint and voila, I have anxiety and I’m terrified of everything. Funny how the brain works isn’t it?
I blog about mental health a lot and I’m totally open about my anxiety and how it affects me. Which is bad. Sometimes. I think during my anxiety journey, I’ve learnt a lot about how to deal with both anxiety and stress. I’ve probably learnt more coping mechanisms with anxiety than I ever would have if I didn’t develop it in the first place. Which, thinking about it, I suppose is one benefit to come out of having my mental health disorder. Of course we all need coping strategies when we’re stressed. Because we all get stressed and we’ll all have periods of more stress than others. You know how it is, everything’s fine for months then 12 problems come along at once. I’ve recently had a bit of a episode like that, which I’m not going to go into but it’s important to reiterate the point that everyone goes through it. It can help to know we’re not alone, if nothing else.
There was a time in my life where I felt like I was looking into a black hole of nothingness. I wasn’t depressed (at least, I don’t think I was) and I certainly wasn’t suicidal. It was a time where my anxiety was at it’s absolute worst. Not too long after it started, when I didn’t know what it was or how to cope with it. Besides, before October 2011, I didn’t even know what a panic attack was. I didn’t know what anxiety was, let alone what it felt like. I was a girl who pranced through life, going out as much as she possibly could, meeting people and literally – literally – didn’t have a care in the world.
Body confidence. That’s a big old topic at the moment, isn’t it? Everyone on the planet has a relationship with themselves but growing to love our bodies, mind and soul is something that has taken the world by storm more and more over the previous years. Social media certainly has something to do with the rise in young (and older) people having body confidence issues for starters, I have no doubt about that. We’re constantly bombarded with images and articles on how we should look, what we should wear, how to get the “perfect” body. It’s ridiculous. Not to mention, there’s absolutely no such thing.
This time of year can be magical and joyous and sparkly and happy but for a lot of people, including myself in the past, it can also be miserable and depressing and sad. Literally SAD. I’m talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a very real condition which can affect anyone in the Winter months, when daylight is shorter, darkness creeps in at 4 p.m and ultimately can leave people feeling, well, miserable.
When I started private counselling for my anxiety, I was in the midst of one of the worst periods my mental health has ever seen. I barely left the house. My thoughts were so irrational. The thought of going anywhere left me in a state of dread and that first therapy appointment? My gosh, I thought I was going to die. But starting private therapy was invaluable for me; my counsellor and I got along really well, I trusted her and felt I could fully open up to her. She really did help me in so many ways and I often wonder where I would be today had I not gone to see her in that time when I was so desperate for anything to help numb these unbearable feelings of constant dread, anxiety and fear over everything and nothing all at once.
Phew, this post has been a long time coming. Again, it’s another one of my word-vomit, spontaneous, horribly written posts which I’ll look back on and realise it doesn’t make much sense at all but it’s a topic which has been firmly on my mind for well, fucking months and one that I need to talk about. For no other reason than to just get what I’m feeling off my chest, in the hope that it might make me feel a bit better and maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will feel the same and offer some insight.
If you know me or follow my blog you might be aware that I’m a huge advocate for self-care. Self-care is a term I’ve only really come to know (and love) since starting blogging. Before joining the big ol’ blogosphere, I obviously knew we had to take care of ourselves, take time for ourselves and focus on our physical and mental wellbeing – but I didn’t realize quite how important and crucial it was. Especially the mental side of the coin.
Over the last month, my relationship with social media has changed. Whereas once upon a time, heading on to Twitter to express my concerns over something, finding comfort in scrolling aimlessly through hundreds of tweets and just generally, zoning out of real life was my solace but now, I find myself… resenting that very thing. And it’s not only Twitter, don’t worry Twitter bby, I’m not singling u out. Some days, I can’t bare to look at Instagram and the thought of going on Facebook? Oh, hell no. My relationship with social media has changed. But why?
I know this sound like a really childish thing to say but since being active on Twitter and open about my mental illness, I’ve seen people talk about things like this more and more. It’s not an embarrassing thing to worry about nor is it uncommon. When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, during my worst period, I was terrified of being in the house by myself. Absolutely, completely and utterly terrified. I couldn’t function and would literally spend the day counting down the minutes until someone was going to be home. It can be a real debilitating problem and it’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.