On and off for the last 10 years I have suffered with anxiety, which sounds fun doesn’t it?! I’ve actually only recently realised that it’s been that long, because for most of that I was walking around, going to work, getting on saying everything was fine when actually it wasn’t, it was a bit crap. To be clear, it wasn’t dreadful all day every day. I could go for weeks or months feeling alright and then it would creep up on me, seemingly out of nowhere and take over.
I have had days where I have been shaking and felt sick with anxiety. I have cried in the toilets on trains and at work with it. A lot of the time I was holding it together as “fun, happy Sarah” whilst my mind was full of bad chat. I told myself I was rubbish and looked at everyone else being carefree and just getting on with it and wished I could be as good as them.
I would leave conversations with people I love thinking, “I’ve behaved so oddly they’ve probably changed their mind about hanging out with me.” I would meet new people and the sirens in my mind would go off that I was being weird and not myself and these people would know that and think I was ridiculous. Simple decisions became really tough. Deciding where to sit in a restaurant would be totally daunting and I was once found screwed up in a ball because deciding what to wear was too much.
While one side of my mind was going through this, the other side would argue back “what did you have to complain about? Your life is amazing! How can you have the right to say you’re scared and you’re struggling?” which was remarkably unhelpful and made everything worse. The whole thing would repeat over and over and it became completely exhausting and very very boring. I was done with it and bored beyond belief with being rubbish.
I never wanted to tell anyone about my anxiety because they might think I was a bit heavy or moany or ironically, boring. So I thought, “I’ll wait until I’m fixed and can be carefree and happy and normal all the time!” Turns out, this doesn’t exist. So I decided to stop trying to fight it and started to address it. I spoke to people about it. I told the people I loved about it and explained it. I found meditation and though it will always have to be managed, I’m now in control of it and not the other way round.
Writing this now I still feel guilty and tell myself there are people in a much worse position than me, people with “legitimate” reasons for their mental health conditions. But the truth is, it’s ok to say I’m not ok. If you feel scared for no reason or there’s a voice that’s telling you you’re rubbish and everyone else is fine or better, I want to tell you, you are enough. You are SO enough and you don’t have to live with feeling crap.