Wednesday 13 July 2016

Me, Myself and My Anxiety

Imagine your biggest fear. The feeling of your heart racing, hot flushes as you start to sweat. You try to think clearly but the panic takes over. You don't know what to do. Your body tells you to get as far away as possible, yet somehow you find it hard to move.

So what is your biggest fear? Heights? Spiders? Clowns? Of course, you would only feel scared when confronted with this terrifying situation. But what if you have multiple fears? What if your biggest fear is leaving the house? Typically, leaving the house is a very ordinary occurrence, with minimal risk or danger involved. All you have to do is get up and walk out of the door.

Try telling your body that. The thought of going outside has you rooted to the spot, wanting to hide away in a dark corner and never come out. Your mind goes one step further. 'Why stop at being scared of the outside world?' it says. 'Why not also be scared of seeing your friends? Why not also be scared of eating?'

Anyone suffering from this kind of anxiety must not have any kind of life, right?


I'm sure everyone's heard all about the mental torture that comes with mental illness, or perhaps you've even experienced it. Yet, does anyone stop to look at the positives that can come from such a unpredictable disorder?

There is no way that I would be the person I am today without my anxiety. Many feel that they have lost themselves to their illness, wishing for the return of that younger version without a care in the world. Personally, I disagree. I would never trade my current self for that shy girl who hid her nose in books.

There's nothing like a great view to make you smile
My anxiety has given me understanding and compassion. Not only can I relate to those who suffer from similar problems, but I can help them through it, and always be a supporting shoulder to lean on if they need it. It has made me appreciate the finer things in life, like a quiet evening in with friends, or something as simple as sitting peacefully on the grass by the lake. Once you remember how beautiful life can be, you will want to do everything to keep it that way, for yourself and others around you too.

My anxiety has made me cross personal boundaries that I probably never would have crossed when having good mental health. Despite having never been one for going out in the evenings, there was no chance that I was going to miss out on the uni experience - it may have taken me a month or two, but I practically dragged myself out to club. And guess what? I loved every minute of it! (I have definitely been clubbing a lot more than I ever thought I would).

My anxiety has taught me how to get by on my own. Although it is my body that lets me down, I know that I will always bounce back. Personally, I find it hard to rely on people, so I have worked out my own coping mechanisms, that are sure to get me back on my feet ASAP. It has helped me understand my own mind, so that I can put these measures in place as soon as I feel the anxiety coming on. As much as I want to fight my anxiety and live without any worries, some times are harder than others, and self-care needs to come first.

My second home
My anxiety has made me realise that I can have anything that I want if I try hard enough. That barrier holding me back just makes me all the more determined to break through, making every success feel a thousand times better. After a morning of anxiety, managing a walk to the shops feels like I've won a medal. This was nothing compared to the accomplishment of leaving home to go to university. The next step is to graduate, and get a career that I love (once I've worked out what that is!).

My anxiety has made me want to push myself to continue doing what I enjoy. After a summer of being dependent on my mother, needing her to walk me to school to make it in for my exams, to move away to university seemed like the extreme opposite. In reality, it was the first major step to surviving on my own, and rediscovering all of the things that my anxiety stopped me from doing, like eating out and socialising.

My anxiety has taught me to make things happen for myself. Without the determination that I have developed from this disorder, I would never have applied for volunteering in my local theatre, or have been so persistent in my summer job search. I wouldn't have gone out and met the best friends I could hope for, and made great memories together.

My anxiety has taught me to hold onto the good things. I finally had the fortune to meet a guy who cared about me as much as I cared about him, and there was no way I was going to let him go. There were so many points where I could have given up, and let him walk out of my life, but the idea of our future together encourages me to fight back my demons and try my best for him.

My anxiety has made me who I am. And I wouldn't change myself for the world.

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