The Blog About Anxiety – Living With Anxiety
I always knew i wanted to write about living with anxiety. It was one of the reasons i started writing this blog. Creating this site gave me something else, something positive to focus on when i was at my lowest point. But i knew i had to wait until i was in the right head space to do it. And here we are.
A while ago, I wrote about my toddler kicking my ass. Well, it’s no longer the toddler (thank you nursery for 5 afternoons a week!!!) instead, it’s anxieties turn to give me an ass kicking.
If you’d asked me 5 years ago what living with anxiety must feel like, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to say. Maybe something along the lines of, ‘feeling worried about something’….
The Good Old Days
To give you an idea of what life used to be like before i was introduced to the unnerving world of anxiety and panic at the thought of even leaving the house; I flew to New York on my own when I was 17 to go and visit relatives for a month. I used to love going on hour long train journeys, listening to music in my ears and watching the world go by. I moved to a city on my own to study when I was 20. I have (had) always been Miss Independent and Fearless.
But a year ago, that all changed. Like the flick of a switch, anxiety took over my entire body and turned my whole world upside down.
My anixety has been caused by ill health. Inner ear problems. Migraines. A variety of symptoms caused by a genetic condition I was born with. I’ve had health problems my whole life. I”d have great days where i could literally run 5k (10k in the snow by mistake once!) then, without warning, wake up one day and be ill for a week with throat infections, ear infections, viral infections…
Living with flu like symptoms is the norm for me and I have always just got on with it. But a year ago, when I was in Tesco alone with my son in his pram, I fainted. That was scary enough but it was something I could have told myself was down to having another ear infection and being very tired. But then a few days later it happened again.
My health deteriorated almost overnight. I felt ill every day, exhausted in a way no amount of sleep could fix, constant infections, no energy, dizziness which was worse than i’d ever experienced and tinnitus that was unbearable morning to night. I struggled to stand up for long, i couldn’t do anything remotely physical, i got confused, struggled to get out a sentence and became forgetful.
I was plagued with asthma flare ups which left me struggling to take a deep breath and felt like i couldn’t breathe. Feeling light headed then panicked.
I was at the lowest point i had ever been. Having times like this in the past would require me to rest for weeks at time to let my body heal and fight whatever was going on. But now, this time around, i had a 2 year old to take care of with very little help.
Something inside me completely shut down and anxiety decided to run in full force and take over my entire life.
Living With Anxiety
It’s now a year later. Over the last few months my health has finally began to improve. I’m ‘coming out’ of whatever illness took over and I’m starting to feel physically better again. But this time around, the anxiety is sticking with me and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Living with anxiety is like a constant jittery, dizzy, butterflies in the stomach feeling. I’ll try my best to put it into words –
My heart races, I feel like it’s pounding its was out of my chest. I get light headed (the way you do when you haven’t eaten even thought I have a very healthy appetite – one thing not affected) and i feel dizzy and off balance. I get a fuzzy head, like a slightly out of body experience. I feel like i want to blink to come out of the little day dream i’m in but i can’t get out of it. I feel like i’m floating around only it’s not as much fun as it sounds. I have blurry vision, loss of hearing, ringing in my ears and then i start to panic.
The What If’s
One of my main worries is feeling anxious when I go out of the house alone with Aiden who is 3 months away from turning 3. A lot of the time I end up getting myself wound up hours before (sometimes the day before) I know I have to go anywhere, even if it is just round the corner to drop him at nursery.
I run a million thoughts through my head, ‘What if I get really really dizzy and faint and Aiden gets scared or worse, runs off…. What if I have a panic attack and can’t control it, can’t leave wherever I am and get home quickly…. What if I have a vertigo attack because the lights are too bright somewhere or it’s too crowded, what if, what if…..’
It goes as far as worrying irrationally about everything. If i text my mum and don’t hear back quickly or say she was due to come round at 9am but it’s now 9.20am… I begin to play scenarios in my head – is she ok? What if she’s been in an accident on the way here? What will i tell Aiden? Was she scared? How will I cope without her? How will I do this or that now I’m on my own….. Irrational, right?
It takes me forever to leave the house or go to bed sometimes because I’ll be worried I’ve left something on and there will be a fire or I’ve left the front door open and the cats (house cats) will get out. Irrational.
You know it’s just ‘what if’s’ yet you cant stop them. It’s like a mental block and it’s gone on for so long, so long that I’ve avoided doing things, that it now feels impossible to break.
I never used to be like this, I used to leave the house without a care in the world. Stress was nothing to me. I tackled any challenge head on and now I have this ridiculous routine of pacing around my house when I simply need to nip 5 minutes along the road to a shop or to Aidens nursery.
I recently had a hen weekend away
I have to say though, since my health has been improving, my anxiety is easing. The more i try to do something that terrifies me (like walking 10 minutes to the post office and back) and the more i manage, the more the block in my mind is fading.
A friend of mine is getting married soon and i really really wanted to go to her hen weekend. It was in Edinburgh, 2 hours on the train away from where i live. I’d known about it for 4 months and to begin with, couldn’t imagine how i would possibly manage to go. But since my health had been improving and i’d slowly been managing to do more things i booked my place, bought my ticket and i decided i wasn’t doing to give in the this bastard anxiety. This would be a huge hurdle and i was dam well going to get over it.
On the way there, I sat on the train and I cried. I was only 10 minutes into the journey but as we drew closer to the first stop, I went over the scenario in my head of running off the train, crossing over to the opposite platform to get the next train which would be due in at the same time back home. My heart was beating, my chest tightening and my breathing getting faster and faster. I was crying, trying to hide it so no one would see and ask me what was wrong. I was starting to panic. I felt lost. Scared. Sad. And mostly frustrated at how different I had become.
But as we arrived at the first stop I thought, ‘if I give into this now, I’m never going to get passed it.’ So, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I carried on.
I tried to distract myself. I played music in my ears, got out my snacks and tried some deep breathing. I went from crying to calm, to crying to calm but I didn’t give in. As we reached about an hour away from the destination I began to feel myself calm and not feel the urge to cry. ‘This is ok, alright I’ve got this’, I thought. ‘I’ll get to the hotel, have a drink and the old me will kick in and kick this anxiety right out of me.’
But it didnt.
Same Shit Different City
I arrived at the hotel, feeling very proud of myself that I’d made it to the destination. I’d made it further than I’ve managed in over a year and going anywhere on my own for the first time. It was a huge achievement. But unfortunately, the excitement was short lived.
For whatever reason, I just couldn’t relax. I couldn’t let go. All the same feelings, worries, over thinking… they followed me all the way there.
I sat in the hotel room feeling lost. Feeling completely overwhelmed. I wanted to cry. To cry because I was so overwhelmed and cry because I hated who I had become. Cry because I missed the old me who would have once been the life and sole of the party and loved being back in a big city for a girls weekend. I cried because instead of sitting at home worrying at the thought of having to go out for a meal in a busy place, I was sitting in a hotel room doing the same thing.
The whole weekend I struggled to talk to anyone, to get to know all of these new people. I was the weird girl. the quiet one. The one who sat alone in a corner with nothing to say. The old me would have been right there in the middle getting stuck in and coming away friends with everyone on Facebook. But not this time.
Down But Not Out Yet
Being stuck in the house for almost a year, I’ve become a homebody which I love. It means I’ve created a lovey home which i adore being in. But it also means I’ve become a recluse. I’ve isolated myself from the outside world and I don’t know how to fix it.
Although I am getting better and I’m worlds away from how bad i was this time last year, I’m not really sure if i will ever be free of living with anxiety. I like to think that one day my health flare ups will settle down, my confidence will come back and I’ll be like the old me. I hope with everything in me that one day, i’ll get my life back and be able to do more. But i honestly don’t know that now I’ve got this anxiety if it will ever really go away.
I’ve Always Been a Fighter, I Won’t Change That Now
All i can do i be my determined, stubborn self, refusing to let anything or anyone stop me from doing what i want to do. Embrace living with anxiety and celebrate every little achievement against it no matter how small – i made it to the post office and back yesterday = Me 1 Anxiety 0.
I will do my damnedest to keeping fighting on, to not be beaten, to not stop enjoying myself and to sure as hell not miss out on any more of Aiden growing up and the special moments you only get once.
I know who i am deep down, i just have to find her again.
If you are living with anxiety, here is a very helpful website AnxietyUK
Thanks for reading
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