Anxiety & I 

Stop worrying” – a common phrase someone suffering from anxiety is likely to hear throughout their experience. I know I have.

So after spending a long time deciding on if I should start blogging, a passion of mine for a long time, I finally took the plunge and set up a website. The next hurdle was, hold on, what do I write about?

I have thought long and hard about posting this blog online, merely due to what people will think – attention seeking or just looking for sympathy.

People who know me personally know I do not ever wish for sympathy or people feeling sorry for me. My anxiety does not defy who I am as an individual. I still have my personality, my humour is still intact and I have still have life goals to aim for. I am still me!! I have just had to accept that anxiety is just a part of my life now and these past few months especially have helped me control it and gain a new attitude towards it.

I have only one purpose for sharing my story, and that is to promote AWARENESS for Mental Health. Mental health problems are a growing public health concern. They are prevalent not just in the UK, but around the world.

The truth is that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health issue at some stage in their life, whether that be depression, anxiety, schizophrenia etc.

If I get only one person that reads this blog, and my words have helped them in some way, then that is good enough for me.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. It incorporates both the emotions and the physical sensations we might experience when we are worried or nervous about something. Although we usually find it unpleasant, anxiety is related to the ‘fight or flight’ response – our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened.

Here is my experience
Early life

From a young age I was always a little worrier, haven’t we all at some stage had our fair share of worries?

When I was 7 years old, i lost my dad who passed away suddenly, from that year I felt myself begin to worry about my Mum and would she be able to cope raising me and my sister (age 5 at the time). Losing a parent at such a young age, or any age for that matter, can leave a dramatic impact on your life. Feeling like your missing out on so much not having a father figure, I was ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ and I remember growing up not with envy, but looking at all my friends with their Dads and just wishing I had mine as he was only with me for the first 7 years of my life. I even found myself worrying about my wedding day and having not having him by my side walking down the aisle.

I suddenly felt a sense of maturity making sure my Mum was ok every day, but little did I know the worries were already beginning to build up inside my head at such a young age.

Fast forward to 2007, my world came crumbling down once again as I lost my most favourite person in the world, my Granny Peggy who we lost to terminal cancer. More worries began to build, how are we going to without her? She held our family together and she wasn’t only my best friend but my Mum’s too.

So yeah, from a young age I suppose with certain events happening and not talking about the pain you feel inside, letting it build up is not good…

Recent times….

Within the past year, my anxiety has hit me it’s hardest. I found myself dwelling on very petty things, and found that if I worried about one thing, the question spinning round in my head would be what if, what if, what if? Then I think of the worst possible outcome and the list of worries got bigger and bigger! I became extremely paranoid and was constantly overthinking people’s opinions of me. Basically my mind was on a hamster wheel and was spinning constantly. It was exhausting.

I then began to have a lot of shit going on in my personal life and felt stressed constantly every minute of every day. I knew I wouldn’t be able to deal with the stress and I knew I was at boiling point, very soon I was going to snap. I had people telling me “not to worry” and I know they meant well, but a lot of people don’t understand anxiety is a mental illness, it’s not just something you can switch off.

My personal life aside, I wasn’t giving 100% at my job, I’ve worked as a Restaurant Manager for the past few years and times can be stressful but I was able to handle it…Not this time. I was going into work, I felt like my body was there but my head wasn’t if that makes sense? It’s like my spirit floated out of my body and was looking at me or something, that sounds crazy but I have no other way of explaining it. So basically a typical day at work would be going in, crying 90% of the time over how I felt and feeling overwhelmed constantly. But I forced myself to go in, I had bills to pay and I didn’t want the staff thinking I was incapable of doing my job.

Then one day I went in, putting on a brave face but knowing something or someone would tip me over the edge. I was like a ticking timebomb just waiting to go off. A customer approached me in the rudest manner. Of course part of my job is to deal with complaints, something which I’d deal with then get on with my day. The customer proceeded to rip me in half. It was silly and petty, something that I would have laughed about after. No, I just stood there in silence and let her continue her insults. I was on the verge of breaking down at this point, I could feel myself not being able to breathe. So.. I ran, and I mean that literally. I grabbed my bag and just ran out the back door. I got into my car and couldn’t breathe. I was having a panic attack, one of many the last year. When I got home I just collapsed on my bed and rang my Partner right away. He came home and I just cried and cried. The uncontrollable crying would continue for several days after.

It was time to take a step back from work, I felt so awful but I just wasn’t in the right mental state to do anything. Those few weeks were me at my worst, panic attacks, insomnia, overthinking anything and everything and just not wanting to be around anyone.
I honestly felt like I was down a dark hole and couldn’t get out, my anxiety had completely took over me. I had this heavy weight on top of me that I couldn’t lift. Thinking about it now is making me emotional as I was so helpless as I thought I’d never be able to control it.

Next step was seeing my GP. I attempted to explain to her how I felt. My GP signed me off with depression and anxiety, and I began taking medication.

The panic attacks and constant battle with my brain is exhausting. Sometimes I would even nearly have a breakdown when trying to cook a dinner, the simplest of tasks can be too overwhelming. I knew deep down I had to sort myself out and get my old self back because I completely lost her.

Talking to people helps me, I feel a sense of relief confiding to others, my Partner has been my rock, and to this day, I don’t know what I would’ve done without him. But just his presence makes me feel at ease. Even when he doesn’t know what to say, just his arms around me calm me.
Over time, slowly but surely I got out of bed and took tiny steps each day to exercise my mind and cleanse it of all the negativity and worries.

I began to get out and about gradually with friends to take my mind off the worrying, I didn’t touch alcohol for a long time, but dinner, cinema etc, it was always good to do something at least. I was still getting to grips with controlling my mind but I was making progress.

Helping the anxiety

1.) Talking about it..

Some of you may feel embarrassed or nervous confiding in others, but you’d be very surprised in finding that the person you are speaking to may be in the exact same boat.

2.) Music

Music.Is.Everything!! Sticking on my headphones and listening to my favourite songs on full blast helps me forget the world for a while!

3.) Meditation/CBT

When I first heard about these techniques, I didn’t know where to start as I had never done anything like it before, but it is amazing! I recommend an App called Headspace – this includes a 7 day free trial on how to begin mediation. Youtube videos on CBT (how to train your brain) help!!

Blogs/vlogs 

I spens a lot of time online watching vlogs regarding anxiety, London Real was a big help as it always has great interviews.

Reading books

Certain books which I will let reference on my site if you want to have a look. (See below)

  • Anxiety: Panicking about PanicJoshua Fletcher
  • Making Friends with Anxiety – Sarah Raynes

Or any book for that matter! Sometimes reading takes you to a whole new world where you forget about yours for a while!

Working out

Doing workouts at home, to a workout DVD or tutorial on YouTube can make all the difference. Especially being in the comfort of your own home! I felt like you worries were put aside and it really helped me to de-stress.

Back to reality…

Once I went back to work don’t get me wrong I still wasn’t 100% and never will be but I got myself back into everyday life. Staff were so supportive and I appreciate them for being great friends and understanding. I try to take it easy and try to control my anxiety and just breathe. I will still have my bad days where I feel everything is overwhelming but that’s normal for me now. As I say my anxiety does not defy who I am, I’m still me.

I have set myself life goals to aim towards, own my own house, travel, win lotto :/ dream big! I’m in the process of losing weight at the minute, which has really helped me get my confidence back and have something to aim towards (I’ll post a blog on this soon) But I feel these really help me!

My advice

Finally for some advice, if anyone feels depressed or anxious, please do not ever feel like you are alone. Talking to someone and letting it out really can make a difference. If you feel like you can’t speak to anyone around you, there are some fantastic helplines available such as Lifeline, these councillors are there to help.(See below) Speak to your doctor about how you’re feeling, they may give you a medication to suit your symptoms. Do something you enjoy! Whether it be the gym, walking, shop til you drop, or just relaxing with a cuppa and a good book! Either way, whatever makes you smile can help you!

Lifeline: 0808-808-8000

Samaritans: 116-123

Feel free to drop me an email! josjournal@hotmail.com

I really do hope this has helped someone out there, even if it’s just one person. To make them feel like there is hope makes me feel that it was worth while writing this! We need to fight this stigma!!

To this day, I battle with my anxiety, it will always be with me, it’s about controlling it that is key.

Even if you have read this out of sheer boredom, I really do hope you have enjoyed it and will continue to follow my blogs!

Thanks so much for your time guys!!

Jo

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