Living with anxiety is like taking a few steps forward before being dragged back in a whirlwind, your breath is snatched out of you, you’re struggling to breathe, panic overwhelms you when you can’t find the right rhythm of inhaling, exhaling, inhaling, exhaling and you start to think you have forgotten how to breathe all together and as the world slows down again, your mind refuses to. It’s swimming with what ifs, your mind is clouded by fear that becomes such a thick wall that you’re too afraid to take a step forward again in-case you get hit by that suffocating feeling again.
So what I’m trying to say is that anxiety stops you from doing such simple tasks that could be done without much thought. For example, picking up the phone to ring someone – mind fills with a thousand questions, a thousand scenario’s of how it could all go wrong, what if this happens, what if they say this, what if i don’t know that, what if, what if. Your mind races so fast it physically stops you from doing things, your hands start to shake, you stutter, stammer, feel sick. It’s so difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t felt anxiety – about what it’s like to live with it because it feels so stupid explaining all the irrational thoughts you go through over little things.
Sometimes I wonder where I would be in my life if I did not have anxiety. How many friends I would have made, how I’d be working full time, how far I would have got with my writing.
My anxiety started in high school but back then people just thought it was because I was very shy. I was shy but I felt like it was a lot more than that – the extreme uncomfortableness I always felt around people. How I could not make friends because something stopped me from saying the slightest things. So many times I’ve stood in front of someone just screaming in my mind to just ‘say something! Anything!’ But my lips always remained sealed. When I finally figured out what anxiety is years later, I felt so relieved that I could finally put a name to what it was I was feeling and going through, I finally learnt that a lot of other people go through the same thing. For so long I’d been asking what is wrong with me?! I always had to try and keep it all inside me because if it ever came bursting out of me in panic attacks it would freak out the people around me, especially my family who would get so frustrated by it.
It’s a daily struggle when you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. It’s one of those things that once you feel that you have gained some control over it, it creeps up again when you’re not ready for it, when you’re not expecting it and it latches onto you. It’s a disorder that is really difficult to explain to someone who does not experience it because of how irrational the bullet train of thoughts are that speed through your mind. I always know, even as I’m thinking those thoughts that they make no sense but it’s a battle to keep them quiet. As a result, anxiety leads to depression, low self esteem and confidence.
When I feel a lot of anxiety I always know there are two options for me. Fight or flight. When I choose to fight it – I decide that I’m going to face my fears head on, stop thinking and just jump into the situation and do whatever it is I have to do. It’s never easy but the end-result is so satisfying and such a relief. When I choose to fight the end result feels like a huge achievement even if it’s a little task and in turn it makes my confidence grow.
However, sometimes, I choose the option of flight. This is when the anxiety is so overwhelming it’s almost like a beast that takes control of all my senses and I just have to run away from the situation, hide away from it. I’ve done this countless times and it truly crushes a soul, when you have a fear of failure this is one of the worst things to do as it increases that sense of failure. You feel even more frightened and low than when you started.
I may have given up on many things in my life but I don’t give up for long. When I give up, the next step is always to try ten times harder. I feel like naturally I am happy, cheerful person and I know anxiety crushes me, it ruins my life so I always have to remind myself that I have to deal with this problem, I can’t let it rule my life because this is not the way I want to live. I do not want to live in fear all my life. I search desperately for peace of mind. From everything I have read anxiety’s main cause is a negative mindset. Changing a mindset into something positive is very difficult but at the end of the day we have to remember that WE have control of our minds, not the other way around.
I have anxiety but I’m on a journey to free myself from those frightful claws. Who is going to join me?