08:36:00

WHAT LIVING WITH ANXIETY REALLY FEELS LIKE


Anxiety is a funny thing. Many people don't understand what it means or how it can affect your life so distinctly. I've noticed a growing trend of people talking openly about it - and that's great. But I hope the topic doesn't become glamourised because living with it is a different thing entirely. I wanted to write a post about my experiences to highlight the realities of it and the way it can impact both your life and the way people treat you. Grab a cuppa, it's going to be a long'un!

I've struggled with anxiety for a while now - probably since I was about 16. I didn't understand it for a long time. My friends and family would joke about how 'stressy' I was because I would get into such a state over what seemed like such menial things. For example, once on holiday a product exploded in my suitcase and I felt like I was going to break down. That might sound stupid to you - and it does to me too - but that's how it felt.

Another time, I walked into town, headed to Primark and filled my trolley with things for a fancy dress party I was going to. But when I got to the till, I realised I'd left my purse at home. I cried the whole way home.

The older I got, the more I realised how hard it was to live like this. If my mind became too crammed, I would just burst into tears. This wasn't just over trivial things either. During my final year at university, I would forget to eat because I was too busy panicking over my workload. My tummy tightens up and I get stomach aches very regularly from anxiety and this characterised a lot of my final year.

Then I moved to London. Ah, London! Full of angry commuters trying to get somewhere, people clawing their way to the top and more things to see and do than you can shake a stick at. I love the buzz of the city, but living with anxiety here is overwhelming. It comes and goes, but when it hits I feel as though my head could explode.

When I first started interning here, I was living in the tiniest room you could ever imagine. I didn't sleep a lot (insomnia is another side effect), had no money and I was working hard to impress at work. I felt on edge constantly. I lived with good friends and had a great time, but eventually I had to move out for my own sanity. But sadly, it didn't seem to help.


Over the next few months I started having CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) because things were really getting too much. I was still feeling the (self-induced) pressure at work and I just didn't know how to tackle anything anymore. I was taught how to look at the bigger picture, to think rationally and I was given a bunch of exercises to calm myself down. It got worse before it got better, but eventually I caught a break. I took two weeks off work for stress and calmed the fuck down. 

More recently, it's been happening again. You get the idea...it comes and goes. I've been sick of being in my own head lately because - as you can imagine - it's exhausting. I worry relentlessly about work, my friendships, my family, my living situation, my present, past, future. When it happens, it's non-stop and I fantasise about banging my head against a wall just to silence my thoughts. I find exercise helps me incredibly, which is why I love it so much (here's my post about what exercising every day is like).

But possibly the worst thing about it is that people simply don't understand. When I try and seek assurance from friends/boyfriends/family members, they make out I'm insane. I just get told 'you worry, that's who you are,' as if I'm just supposed to deal with it. I'm branded high-maintenance and stressy by the people I love the most and my friends joke about it. It's good to laugh at yourself sometimes, but recently I've realised it's not OK to make fun of anxiety. Sometimes it makes you feel even worse and those who suffer shouldn't be made to feel this way just because someone doesn't empathise. 

I'd rather people made an effort to understand what I was going through then brushing it under the carpet and putting it down to me being 'such a worrier'. It makes me go inside myself a little bit more and hide away because I feel I can't talk to anyone about it. I deal with it as best I can. 

If you know anyone who suffers with anxiety like I do, don't tell them they're high-maintenance, nervous, or a worrywart. Don't ignore them because it makes you feel awkward. Don't laugh at them because it's easier to deal with that way. Support them and educate yourself. It'll make the world of difference.

Daisy xox

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