Apologies for the profanities – it’s usually not my style.
If it were a person I would look it straight in the eye and ask it to go away, leave me and my life alone, and never return again. I would sing as it walked away. Hatred is the only word to convey how I feel about it.
This was supposed to be a holiday post. Photos and a little update about our week in sunny Fuerteventura (which was great by the way). It feels dishonest to write that post right now though. I want to write, and I so looked forward to this blog post, but I am in the middle of a really bad spell of anxiety.
I’m having an anxiety attack as I write this. I’m not crying, shaking, sweating or out of breath. I’m in the canteen eating my lunch in fact. To the outside world I look happy, content, and carefree. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy, but not in this moment. Happiness is a strong emotion but just not quite strong enough to win a fight with anxiety.
I am lucky, blessed, healthy, surrounded by family and good friends, I have a beautiful son. Did I mention I’m just back from a wonderful holiday? I’m losing weight on Slimming World. All is well in my world. I am grateful. But I am having an anxiety attack.
It affects us all differently. Some people have crippling physical anxiety attacks. They can’t breathe, talk or walk. Others, like me, feel like their brain is about to explode from their body. It’s contained, beneath the surface, sly almost.
It’s been happening for two days straight now. I’m having moments here or there where I can think about the things I am doing. I’m doing my work, making the dinner, and I even had a bath last night. But 90% of the time I feel like I am going to explode.
I felt it coming on me on Sunday afternoon. It’s that feeling of dread. Forboding almost. I can feel it creeping up on me. It’s faint in the beginning – almost non existent. Then it get’s closer and closer. I’m running from it but I just cannot run fast enough. It eventually catches me and I can do nothing but ride it out.
I’ve tried mindfulness, counselling, visualization. Nothing works. It cripples me and it’s almost harder to cope with when you can function with it on a certain level. I’m going to work, getting dressed and laughing at jokes. I’m in the middle of making a cup of coffee and suddenly it is as though someone has slapped me in the face. A particularly intense moment where I have to stop and breathe one big deep breath. And then it runs away for a little while.
Anxiety, you see, is not rational. I am one of the most logical people you will ever meet. If the housework is getting on top of me I make a plan and tick things off the list. If I want to make a nice dinner I find a recipe and buy the ingredients. I like to find a solution and feel the weight lift off my shoulders. Anxiety is on an entirely different planet to this train of thought though.
I don’t want to sound dramatic, but there are moments where you feel like you are going to die. It’s that overwhelming stop-you-in-your-tracks worry that doesn’t relate to any one particular thing. It turns you inside out and creates a storm in your mind. Something awful is around the corner but you don’t know what it is. And so ensues the panic. How can you stop it if you cannot identify it? It’s coming for you, it’s stronger than you, and yet you can do nothing but sit there and allow it to destroy you. It goes against every fibre of your being. Fight or Flight. You want to flight but your body forgets how to move.
And then it passes. It shrinks down a bit and hides beneath the surface for another few days or weeks. You feel like a new person.
I see so many before and after photos of people who have lost weight or gained muscle. Success stories from terminal illness. All wonderfully uplifting and positive stories. Your health is your wealth. I now realise that your mental health is equally as important. It is the engine that powers you.
I am someone who is happy, healthy and functioning with an anxiety disorder. It’s not fashionable, it’s not trendy, but it’s normal and it is something so many of us deal with. My GP refers to it as a disorder, as did my counsellor. I don’t like that word because it somehow makes me feel incapable. And yet I am so capable in my daily life. Normal even.
If you suffer with anxiety there is NOTHING to be ashamed of. You are normal and it is not your fault. I am writing this in the hopes that even one person may relate to it and have the confidence to speak openly about something that affects millions of people. Talk to your GP, a friend, or to me. We are all in this together.