I don’t mean to sound awfully dramatic but this is a really difficult post for me to write. I’ve opened up about my mental health and self-esteem problems before so if you wanna catch up with all that jazz, then check out this post and this post. But today I’m writing something I never thought I’d write and something I actually don’t really want to write but feel like maybe I should? I dunno. It’s complicated. Basically, I’m going to try and wrack my brain for some things I sorta kinda possibly might like about myself and explain why.
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.