Anxiety is something I don’t talk about too often at all, however I have had it for about 9 years now and I feel as though my prospectives of anxiety have changed over the past few years.
I can remember the day that I had my first panic attack, I was in year 7 and was a few months into secondary school. I cannot remember what I was feeling anxious about, however I will never forget how I felt in that moment. I remember feeling as though I couldn’t breathe, which made me panic more. I remember people crowding around me asking me what was wrong. I felt pathetic, I felt claustrophobic and I felt completely freaked out by what was happening. When I had my first panic attack, I hadn’t even heard of a panic attack, I didn’t even know what anxiety was.
As a child, I always remember being really energetic and loud. I was always singing and dancing and trying to make other people laugh. I was considered ‘the bold one’ within my family. I literally didn’t have a care in the world. I wore glasses, I loved reading books, I loved animals and being outside, I didn’t care what people thought about me, because I was comfortable within myself. By the time I began secondary school, I was not the person anymore. I was shy, If people laughed, I thought they where laughing at me, I didn’t have any interests. Now, I feel as though I didn’t even live that part of my life, because I wasn’t me at all. I had gone from having such a open and free-spirited personality, to one that was completely introverted.
For about 2 years, I didn’t know that I had anxiety, I just thought that this must be how everyone my age feels. I would stare at myself in the mirror at the age of 13, and pin point each feature that I would change, I would cry whilst doing so, I constantly compared myself to there people, in a very obsessive and compulsive way. It began apart of my routine to be obsessed with the aspects I didn’t like about myself. I was horrifically self conscious., I would look at plastic surgery and tally up how much it would cost, and how long it would be until I could afford it. As well as this, I was constantly a nervous wreck, I would regularly worry about things for no reason, I was almost as though a sickening wave had came over me. I would dread literally everything, I would dread things that people may say to me, I would dread situations I had never been in, I would dread moving out of bed. I later learned I had Generalised Anxiety/ Panic disorder as well as Body Dysmorphic Anxiety.
It wasn’t until I was about 14 years old, when I had yet another panic attack in school, that I was told I was having a panic attack, and this was due to potentially having anxiety. It made more sense at that point. I wasn’t just overreacting, it was a ‘thing’ it wasn’t a complete mystery anymore. I began to see this teacher every week or so for a small chat about how I’m feeling and if there had been any big panic attacks, or things that where on my mind. I am internally grateful for the support from this teacher, as I wouldn’t have known who to turn to if not.
At 16 I entered what I call my ‘dark stage’ the stage that I really do not talk about, even knowing that I’m going to write about it is hard. This is the stage of my life from about 16-18 where I did not want to be alive. I would obsess over death, where would I like to die, how would I die, and would I be the one to do it. This was the point where I searched for professional help. I was 17 when I did so, I remember the day. I was being driven to college, my mum and my oldest sister where sat in the car with me. We where all bickering about something, and I couldn’t deal with it. I remember just bursting into tears, and shouting for my mum to pull over, which she didn’t. I rushed out of the car and went into college. I couldn’t think straight all day. Death was on my mind and it wasn’t going away. I left college early that day and asked for my mum to book me an appointment with my doctor, she asked why and I told her I just needed to see someone. On the way home from college, I bought both my mum and sister small gifts, I felt like I was a massive burden to them, and I owed them an apology – As the past few months I had been moody and dismissive of them.
I’m not going to go into full depths of what happened during that doctors appointment and the issues that where discussed, as although I’m talking about my experience, that appointment for me, was my breaking point as this was the first time my mum was aware of the thoughts that I had. However, from this point, things began to change, I began to talk about my problems more, I stopped being such a closed book, talking to someone who’s willing to listen really does help. No-one deserves to feel as though they’re constantly on the outside and 9 times out of 10, there’s going to be who are begging you to open up to them.
Flashforward a couple of years, I turn 20 next month. Although I still live with anxiety, and probably always will, I no longer feel as though anxiety defies me, I defy myself. Some days I have terrible anxiety filled days, but I deal with them knowing that tomorrows a new day. I deal with them knowing that I’ve got someone to talk to, whether it be a councillor, a friend or a family member. Mental health awareness has changed dramatically since I was 11 years old. I know so many people who live with anxiety and other mental health illnesses. We should love and respect each other, no matter what their mental state. Although sometimes this is hard, as we can’t all be saints and it can’t be ‘cured’ but just making that person aware that you’re willing to listen can be enough. Talk to them like a person, not like a mental illness.
I hope this post was helpful or enlightening to those of you who are feeling, or have felt like this. This is a post I’ve really wanted to do for a while now.
See you on Tuesday!