I get asked a lot about my anxiety so I thought I'd try and tackle everything in a little blogpost this evening.
I've been working on my anxiety in therapy recently, so now seems like the perfect time to bring it up. Plus I've reached some major obstacles which I am quite excited to share with you all!
Over the past few years, I've worked out that my anxiety in heightened in places which I feel cause me imminent danger. Situations which cause me anxiety the most include public transport, and just being outside on my own in general. This in the past has led to me being house-bound, (luckily not for too long as I have the support of Nathan by my side) back in 2011 when I was off school for 6 months, I didn't go out at all, especially to avoid seeing people who had 'known' about my overdose, for fear of embarrassment.
I have fears and phobias of various things, including enclosed spaces (being on a packed bus/tube frightens me no end), fire, and birds (ironic really, as I own a family bird). Some of these phobias can be easily identified, for example I once witnessed my mother in a fire at the age of about 7, at the shop where she worked at the time. I can barely watch huge fires on television or in films, it just terrifies me (hence why I check everything a million times before I leave my house!)
Some of the phobias, however, I cannot identify. Public transport could possibly be linked back to the 7/7 attacks in London (I remember freaking out at the time due to that, as a London resident myself) but it's not a fear of terrorism so much as it is other people, I demonstrate a complete lack of trust from the general public when I'm out and about. When I get on a bus, I eye everyone with suspicion. I sit on the top deck, at the front, on the right hand side, it's my seat, no-one is behind me, nobody can 'get' me. It's rituals like that that determine a lot in my life, whether I have the courage to meet friends for lunch in Central London or go to volunteering meetings and events. Things that I want to do. But can't.
I've been discussing this with Heather this week, and she believes bullying has played a huge role into why I am so on-edge and wary all the time. Technically speaking, I spent from as long as I can remember to about age 15 worried about who or what was going to taunt or upset me on that particular day. I lived childhood and teenage life apprehensive, and scared as opposed to happy-go-lucky and free. She believes there are huge links between this and my anxiety disorder, and I agree with her to an extent. I find it incredibly hard to wind down after a long stressful day and never once give myself the time to relax, there always has to be something going on/distracting me or that I must be up and worried/stressed about. It constantly feels like I have a permanent knot in my stomach that cannot be untied. 'What if...' is most likely to be my most common saying.
Recently, with my massive improvements in recovery from depression and applying for University, I realised that in order to get to University, I need to travel. On my own. And sitting, thinking it over in my head, I realised how much of my life I've wasted due to saying 'no' too many times because my anxiety was telling me to.
I'm a huge believer in living your life to the best of your potential and ability, and that's part of the reason I made a life goals list (links in the side bar and blog-post coming up about it!). If I keep having these irrational fears about the future and what possibly 'could' happen to me, I won't be making anything happen at all. Then that really is, just a wasted life and goes against everything that I stand for. I'm also a huge believer in fate, what is meant to be is meant to be, if I'm meant to die tomorrow, so be it, but if I do die tomorrow, I don't want to have died regretting the choices I made today.
We can never truly determine what is going to happen to us. And that is terrifying. But instead of fearing the worst and letting your brain focus on the worst, flip it over for a second, focus on the goal in sight. In my case, getting the bus to work on my own means that I'm getting to work on time and not having to fork out lots of money for cab fares. For others, going to have that injection at the doctors following a fear of needles mean you will be immunised from potential threats to your future and your overall health. There ARE positives on the other side of all fears that we have. It's about finding those and reminding ourselves of them every once in a while.
For my last three work shifts now I have taken the bus to work on my own, which sounds so ridiculous and something that isn't an achievement, but really for me it is. It's conquering huge fears and giving anxiety a huge slap in the face. Today was a difficult one, as, although a Saturday, the bus was packed and it was extremely warm. I had to stand, I felt dizzy and weak and everything tightened. I was ready for a full on panic attack but luckily, after a few minutes a few people got off and I was able to sit down in my comfort zone, feeling relieved and much less apprehensive knowing that by this point I was closer to my destination.
And that's exactly my point. By facing your fears, you are closer and closer to reaching your destination. Whatever and wherever that may be. I'm starting to realise that now. And I'll have off days. I'll have days where I'll freak and find it too difficult. But set-backs and relapse are all a part of recovery and as long as I still have that willingness to fight this, I'll get there. I'll be standing in my lecture hall in September knowing that I'll have made it.
I'll be writing a few more blog posts as my recovery from GAD continues in regards to dealing with anxiety as it arises. Until then, feel free to ask me any questions, and we can help each other!