Some of you may remember my blog from earlier in the year, I wrote about my struggle with depression and how talking to people had helped me. The positive feedback from friends and fellow sufferers inspired me to speak out even more and this time, tell people how hard my struggles with anxiety have been. In hindsight, I have suffered with anxiety probably ever since I was a child, but back 20 years ago mental health wasn’t really something that people spoke about and it certainly wasn’t something that people thought that children suffered from...
Anxiety is quite simply agony, it’s easy for people who don’t know what it’s like to just say “Oh don’t worry about it.” Well, if only things were that simple, if I could turn it off, believe me, I would! It literally takes over my thoughts on a daily basis from the minute I get up. On work days, I’m worrying that if I don’t get out of the house on time I’ll be late for work, and when I’m in work, I worry that no matter what I do it won’t be good enough and my colleagues will despise me. It happens with my friends too, I think that if I text them first they’re going to hate me, like I’m constantly being a pain. I mean, why would anyone like me? I know how I feel about my friends, I love them dearly and they are amazing, but I can’t see that anyone would feel that way about me…
Have you ever felt anxious when you are going somewhere new and you don’t know anyone? That’s what it’s like for anxiety sufferers every day, sometimes simple things like making a phone call are bad enough or opening post fills them with dread. There is no explanation. I know in the back of my mind and on a good day, none of this makes sense, but just by telling people that, it certainly doesn’t help. Some days I make plans and when it comes to it, my anxiety just takes over and I quite simply can’t go through with it. I would rather tell people that I’m not feeling well, than tell them the real reason why.
It’s become quite normal now for someone who is having a bad day to say “I’m feeling so depressed today.” This doesn’t help with the stigma attached to mental health as people just seem to think that we are making it up, or escalating things. Some days I feel or have felt that I wasn’t able to cope, but haven’t really felt that I could call in sick because I know how people react to “pulling a sickie” and again, that makes my anxiety worse! I have on occasion felt like ending it all but never had the courage to go through with it! I have a few friends who have also felt the same and when they’ve told me, I’ve felt so scared that they may do it, I think it puts things in to perspective for a while.
So, what do I do when I’m feeling like this? I plough myself in to activities, as I said in my previous blog, I have to get up in the morning for my dog, so once I’m up, I may as well get myself ready and go to work. This usually helps in some way, but getting out, if you are able to, really is the best thing to do, whether it’s just a walk for 20 minutes. Although, I find running helps more as I have to focus on not falling over, haha! I’ve made a promise to myself this year that I’ll visit somewhere new once a month, even if it is just a new piece of coastal path. So far this has given me focus and seems to be working well. Obviously this isn’t going to work for everyone though, I know that and please don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work.
As I said in my previous blog, if reading this helps one person and makes them go to their doctor or reads the symptoms and realises they aren’t alone, then I will feel that I’ve done something good. I again want to thank my friends for being there, regardless of how I feel, I know of a few who genuinely care about how I feel.
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org