This post will be extremely relatable for anyone who has experienced anxiety, to anyone who hasn’t experienced it they will probably write me off. I mean, can you really call having a break down over answering the phone a mental illness? Yes, you can. My boyfriend has never experienced anxiety and it makes it very difficult for him to understand and relate to me. Luckily he is incredibly supportive and it doesn’t matter that he can’t understand it and instead he is always willing to do whatever he can to help.
I was about 13/14 when I first experienced depression and anxiety, it was a very difficult time for me and there was a point that I never thought I would make it through. There were times when I would wake up and genuinely believe that it was going to be my last day. Whilst my depression has gotten a LOT better over the past six years, my anxiety has always remained very much present. I have definitely learned a lot of ways to handle it and I know what sets it off and how to avoid those triggers but it’s still something that very much affects my day-to-day life.
This is a bit of an odd post to write because I’m not sure what it is I want to say but I know that this is something that I want to talk about on my blog, to put it out there to everyone, to make it a subject that we can talk about and to say that if anyone else is feeling like this, reach out. You’re not alone and I am always willing to talk, I would love to hear other peoples experiences, coping mechanisms and stories so please comment, email or message me on Instagram (@adventuring_as_alice)
I know that I was experiencing some difficult times in my life which were at the onset of my anxiety but I honestly believe that anxiety can be a thing that would have come up at some point in my life, even if I had experienced those years differently. When I first noticed that I was having panic attacks and struggles with anxiety, I had just experienced my first love and with that came my first heartbreak. Unfortunately, it was a very difficult and painful heartbreak which I think definitely triggered some emotions and feelings that made it difficult to love myself. Fortunately, I have recently gotten back in touch with the boy that I went through that experience with and we both seem to be in a fairly good place which has meant we have been able to talk about it and hopefully move on from it as friends. At the same time as this heartbreak, I was also experiencing a different family dynamic, I think I was very aware of the feelings of the other people in my life for the first time in a way which I hadn’t been before which really impacted on me. During these years, I also had to deal with a difficult loss and I was experiencing a fair amount of bullying. All in all, it was a tough few years and I’m hardly surprised that I came out of it with a few scars, at least I came out the other side.
As I mentioned at the start of this post I know what things trigger my anxiety and that makes it so much easier for me to deal with. Whilst I can’t always avoid the triggers, I can expect them and prepare for them. It can be very difficult to try and navigate life without missing out on anything but also avoiding the circumstances that may trigger my anxiety to give me a panic attack or shut down. I do sometimes find it very difficult, especially with new people and with people who I know I need to get to know such as my boyfriend’s friends. I have tried so hard to relax with them and make friends with them but every time, my anxiety hits and I either come out looking rude or just incredibly shy. If anyone has any tips for relaxing with people (I’ve met them all a load of times and even been on holiday with them!) who you want to get on with, please, please let me know!
I know that my anxiety can be lessened by avoiding situations that I can’t get out of, by avoiding new experiences without a familiar face and by being in control of things. I’m aware that avoiding these things would involve missing out on a lot of things but having the knowledge of these triggers can help me to prepare and calm myself before the anxiety hits.
Since I mostly know what things will trigger my anxiety, although there are often new and different things that can trigger it which I don’t expect, I find it easier to cope with. I like to meditate, I try to do it every day to give myself an overall improved state of mind but if I know I have a stressful or difficult event coming up then I’ll make sure I get some meditation in.
If I’m going to a new place I like to know what to expect, this includes seeing photos of where I am going, knowing how long I’ll be there for and a rough idea of what we will be doing. I also like to know that there will be a space for me to be alone. I often find it difficult when I stay at peoples houses because I know that I won’t have that space to go and be alone, especially if I do get hit by anxiety.
I also find it really difficult to engage in new experiences, I’ll always agree to do something and I’ll be really excited beforehand but as soon as I get into the experience I completely freak out and act like an idiot because I don’t like how it makes me feel. I try and deal with this by, again, preparing myself, I will try and do some research to see what I’ll be doing and try and get a good idea of what to expect in my head. I also like to make sure that I have a familiar face with me, generally, that would be my boyfriend but it can also be friends. As long as I have someone who I can trust by my side, I know that it can’t be that bad and that even if I do have an anxiety attack, I have someone in my corner who will make sure I get through it. I like to be in control of a lot of situations which gives off the impression to a lot of people that I am a control freak (I mean, I am, but whatever!) I like to be very aware and prepared for things because if I am prepared, in control and ready then I feel like I can face whatever I’m up against and it’s not so scary to deal with.
Sharing your feelings
This is the thing that I’m really not so good at, I find it really difficult to open up to people about how I feel. I’m quite an open person when it comes to talking about things I’ve done and my life but I am quite shut down emotionally. I’m not the biggest fan of physical contact, I’m incredibly awkward during emotional displays and I find it super difficult to tell someone how I feel. I find it quite difficult to tell my friends that I have anxiety because I feel like they will either write me off as someone who doesn’t have anxiety and maybe just gets a bit nervous or they will want to distance themselves and not do things with me in case I get weird. I know that neither of these things are likely and I have such a loyal and genuine bunch of friends that I know none of them would ever do that, but then I suppose that is the anxiety getting into my brain!
I would love to talk about this subject and open up a bit more (it’s so much easier to type it than to say it!) If you have any questions or things that you would like me to talk about, please let me know and I would be really interested to make this a two way conversation so please reach out!