Stories, skills, and positivity- to anxiety sufferers from anxiety sufferers.
Every morning, you wake up, and you’re lying in bed. Before you can even blink your mind begins racing a thousand miles a minute. Naturally you begin filing through every thought, concern, worry, negative emotion, and memory, over and over again. You try to breathe but instead you choke. It’s as if you’re drowning, yet you’re above the shore.
The idea of actually leaving that safe, warm haven is torture. The fear of taking on the day and having your triggers coming at you at any moment in time is terrifying. You don’t know what will happen, you don’t know who you’re going to see. All you know is that you can’t handle the idea of living with the pain, so you compromise your everyday life for safety, because the idea of throwing more salt in those open wounds doesn’t sound like it’s worth the effort. Some days, you can pull through the initial struggle, and some days, you can’t.
And some days, you have absolutely no choice but to face the day whether your thoughts get to you or not, and let me tell you, those days are nothing short of difficult.
But can you imagine this being an everyday battle that you have to face?
For many people, including myself, it was. And sometimes, it still can be.
This is what anxiety feels like to me. It’s the crippling fear of absolutely everything and anything around you. And it’s not something that you’re particularly born with, in some cases, it’s triggered by a specific event in your life. And sometimes you’re a naturally anxious person.
In my case, it’s a little bit of both.
Growing up I didn’t understand the concept of mental health at all. I always assumed that as long as you put on a happy face and pretended that everything was okay, that it actually would be okay. Boy was I wrong. It was at a very young age that I became a perfectionist at masking “the veil” of anxiety and depression, because putting it on was so much simpler than actually taking the time to understand why I was feeling this way. And to be honest, I was afraid of being labelled as being crazy. I didn’t know that I wasn’t the only person feeling this way. The idea of talking about this fear was mortifying simply because every time I tried to describe how I was feeling I was told that it was “all in my head”. However I will say that the anxiety that I experienced then is nothing compared to what I have been living with for the past year and a half.
Since I went into some detail about how I was living with anxiety from the get go, you can take a wild guess as to why my anxiety took a turn for the worst. Life happened.
And it literally changed me.
Now, despite the anxiety and depression I have been living with, many people who know me would classify me as a very outgoing and confident person. I would even agree with that statement. I am very comfortable with who I am and genuinely like the person I have grown to be.
But this event in my life made me afraid to even look myself in the eye at my own reflection in the mirror because I hated looking at the person I had become. After that event, I was literally scared to leave my house. I was afraid to go out with friends. I was afraid to date. I was even afraid to go to work, and I LOVED my job at the time. For months after the incident I was constantly in fear that whomever did this to me would appear at any moment. My self-image became so jaded. I saw myself as worthless. Used. Disgusting. Ugly. I even thought I was a bad person. I was ashamed to even go out in public because I didn’t feel that I was worthy of enjoying my life. The assault belittled me so much that I began to blame myself for what happened to me. My anxiety got so bad that I didn’t leave the house for weeks. I had reached such an all time low that I eventually began realizing that I needed to get help. Living like this was sucking the life out of me.
Finally, after all of these years of living with anxiety, and reaching this horrible low, I sought help.
Now this is where I am going to give my own personal recommendation to anybody going through anything similar to what I have lived with – TALK TO SOMEBODY!
Making frequent visits to a counselor ended up giving me the proper tools I needed for me to beat the everyday struggle anxiety brings to the front door. If it weren’t for those tools and the guidance that I was provided, I know for a fact it would’ve taken me a lot longer to get out of the state that I was living in.
And today? Well, it’s safe to say that my self-image has definitely moulded back to what it used to be. And although I still live with anxiety, it’s not so scary to take on the day anymore. I can confidently say that I am able to wake up and live.
Katie McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and bases her anxiety aid in personal experience, as well as techniques that have been passed on to her by counsellors, friends, and fellow anxiety sufferers.