I don’t know where to begin…
Its taken a lot of courage to open up and write a post on anxiety and my experience of it, so bare with me if this all sounds jibber jabber to some people, I’ve tried to explain it the best that I can, and by writing this, it’ll be a weight off my shoulders and I hope it can help someone or that one of you guys are able to relate to this in some way. This is something I’ve kept secret for a long long time, and I thought I’d write about my experience with anxiety, hoping it can help other people or even if someone can relate to it – my anxiety has changed me in so many ways, it’s changed my personality and my look on life, but I’m hoping regular therapy sessions can ‘get me back to normal’ whatever normal is.
I let it control me ALL THE TIME, and it’s hard to think otherwise, anxiety has been a big part of my life now for so many years and I’ve not even realised, I just thought it was the norm and part of growing up, but its not. I’m 22 years old and I don’t act like a 22 year old, I avoid all social interactions, I don’t leave my house unless it’s to walk the dog and will only attend family events if I’m forced too because I don’t like feeling guilty for missing out. At school I was never the popular kid, never someone who had a tight friendship group, and I think a lot of my anxiety has stemmed from trying to fit in at school, and it’s now followed me into adulthood where I still think the same way, where I need to be someone else to fit in with society and therefor I’m not being myself, and trying out all these different personalities just to fit in, so I’ve lost myself along the way and occasionally ask myself ‘who am I?’ I always feel like I need to be a certain way for people to like me, and I’ve always been a people pleaser, have always been someone always concerned if others like me or not and it’s so hard thinking differently, you know, people tell me, just to be me and that if no one likes me or if they judge me then it shows more about them… but that’s never sunk in and I still feel like I don’t believe it.
I have anxiety because I have a lot of low self esteem — I don’t like who I look like in the mirror, I never have, and I constantly compare myself to other people, not the typical cliché and compare to ‘celebrities’ but to normal people in the street and I say to myself ‘why cant I look like her’? ‘why cant I be that pretty’? ‘why cant I wear what she’s wearing’? and I think now it’s got to a point where I’m not “accepted” unless I look a certain way… Growing up I’ve never been a size small, always had chubby thighs, a pot belly and big boobs and I sit here now I think why have I let myself go sooo much? I’m bigger than what I used to be? But I sit here and feel sorry for myself and just eat more food as its my comfort and that’s when anxiety takes control, I lack motivation, so I don’t force myself to go out. Some people may see that as lazy, I see it as ‘not in control’. I always had the passing comments when I was younger such as ‘omg look at your hair, why have you curled it’ ‘why are you wearing that’ ‘why are you so stupid’ ‘you need better make up’ ‘your eyebrows are so bad’ and I’ve lived in fear that if I don’t meet peoples expectations of me, I will NEVER be accepted, it’s hard adjusting to that and because I don’t go out, I cover myself up with baggy jumpers and black leggings and hide away from the world!!
Growing up, I’ve never really had ‘friends’ and to this day I can probably only count on one hand how many friends I actually have, my issue is that I find it so hard to trust people, so hard to find someone that’s not going to stab you in the back or say nasty things about you, and have always felt embarrassed in social situations because I didn’t have any ‘friends’ – fake friends have knocked my confidence so I struggle, I keep myself to myself and plod along. I’ve learnt growing up and leaving school and college that you realise who your true friends are, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any friends or have one or two, as long as you have your family, that’s all that matters. I don’t really drink so I think that excluded me from things in the past, but I’m a grown woman now and if I don’t want to go out drinking, I wont go out drinking – I’m all about home life, with adult problems like, what does this bill mean, or, how do I clean this stain out of my carpet haha. My dog is my best friend and I’m not afraid to say it 🙂 ♥
It’s become apparent that I try to avoid all types of social interactions, it’s not that I don’t want to go out and socialise… I do… Its because I’m too scared of the unknown which mega freaks me out. On a day to day basis, it takes a lot for me to even walk the dog because I have fear of me tripping over or having to say something to a stranger or because people will judge me because it looks like my puppy is the one taking me for a walk and I’m not in control bla bla bla. I’ve wanted to go running for ages and try and get fitter but haven’t because I’m afraid of running stupid like phoebe off friends and someone judging or my boobs slapping me in my face, or panting out of breath so hard and loud that people can hear me — all these thoughts are just being based on leaving the house and it’s so damn tiring! I’ve found that with my anxiety, I also cannot sleep at night, it’ll get to about 2/3 in the morning and after 100 position changes to try and get comfy, I’ll nod off, but then I’m up early to let Archie out and find it so hard to get back to sleep once I’m up, so it ends in me feeling tired for the rest off the day but feeling restless and unable to sit still for no longer than 10/15 minutes and even then I’m not fully concentrating on watching the TV for example, so I get up and find jobs I can do in the house just so I don’t feel totally useless and lazy.
Anxiety is bad ass, it rules my life…
Its wanting to be sociable but not wanting to go out.
Its wanting a slimmer body but not wanting to go to the gym.
Its wanting friends, but not wanting to socialise.
Its wanting to go shopping but not wanting to talk to strangers.
Its wanting to go out into the world and explore, but not wanting to travel.
As a part of anxiety some people may experience panic attacks, and I’m one of those people, I had my first ever panic attack one evening after I had eaten, I went to go put our washing away and fold everything up and BOOM, out of no where it felt like I was having a heart attack. I ended up scrunched up on the floor, not knowing what was happening, in pain, so I took myself up to bed to lay down with the window wide open and even that wasn’t helping. I can’t describe what it felt like, I had a tingling sensation in my body, my heart was racing so fast, I struggled to breath, I was way way way too hot and felt extremely dizzy and even to this day I don’t know what brought it on, maybe stress? at the time I was starting a new job, could that have been it? I mean, I’ve always been nervous but since having anxiety I base EVERYTHING on what if? and think of endless possibilities of what could happen to me or how things are going to make me feel in new environments and at the time of my panic attack, I knew I had anxiety but not on this level. Since then – I’ve had a few more, not as bad, but I tend to have them at home, for example if Matt wants to take me out somewhere, I’ll psyche myself up that much before I step out the front door and worry way too much which will result in me having a panic attack. My mum always tells me not too worry, and that I should be forcing myself to do things a lot more to overcome all this, I’m trying… It’s an on-going process, but its like being a child again, learning how to step into the world and discovering yourself as a person, its challenging.
I constantly question who I actually am? My counsellor asks me ‘who is Shannen’ which normally gets me teary eyed ~awks~ but along the way of dealing with anxiety, I feel like I’ve lost ME. I used to be so outgoing, bubbly, not afraid to speak to anyone, chatty, sarcastic, fun. People say to me now ‘Shannen you’re so confident’ but it’s a front, I may seem confident but deep down I’m not and I want to leave any situation at any given opportunity. The only time I feel like I can be ME is when I’m with my family, me and my sister are like two peas in the same pod, we have such sarcastic humour and get on great (now that I’ve left home lols) but when I do visit, I recognise that home comforts make me ten times more relaxed and stress free.
I noticed that another part of my anxiety is because I put WAY too much pressure on myself, I’ve been lucky in the fact that career wise, I’ve been fairly successful and achieved good promotions, that now I constantly feel like it’s expected of me to just progress higher and higher — people tell me that it’s not true, and it isn’t expected but I just go ahead and believe other things anyway. I put too much pressure on myself of being the ‘perfect’ girlfriend or the ‘perfect’ friend that I change myself when in reality no body is perfect, its what society wants us to believe.
I know anxiety is the devil and it wants us to believe things that aren’t actually there, and I know ways in which I can change to make my lifestyle a lot healthier… Its just doing it which is the hard part.