How my Anxiety Limits Me

A reflection on my mental health journey so far…

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Back in 2014 I received counselling for my mental health difficulties. I was struggling with many things.

The pressure from my A Levels had made me very sensitive to all kinds of stressors. I hated my part-time job, I wasn’t understood by certain family members, I felt isolated from all of my friends who had left for uni without me, etc.. The list goes on.

The result of all that stress? Crippling depression and anxiety. A not-so-lovely combo that left me feeling waves of apathy and complete emptiness, to sudden panic and dread. My late teens were a bumpy ride.

Thankfully I reached out for help and got support for my mental health difficulties. But that doesn’t mean I was cured. To this day I still have my struggles, and while I have previously touched upon my depression, I wanted to talk about my experiences with anxiety, and how it still limits me today…

Back then my anxiety was the main kicker. Sure I was depressed, but it was the sudden panic attacks that were stopping me from functioning as a productive member of society. I vividly remember one instance where, with 5 minutes before having to leave to work, I locked myself in my family’s bathroom, shaking with adrenaline and pure terror, crying my heart out.

My parents, who at the time didn’t understand what was really going on, would plead with me to stop crying, or scold me for not being responsible for doing my job. If only it was that simple.

Because of this, the main focus of my therapy was on breaking down this anxiety spiral. I was thankful for this, as it meant I could somewhat function again, and make moves in my life to become a happier and healthier person.


UK MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT LINES:
Mind (Mental Health Charity) – 0300 123 3393
Samaritans (General Support) – 116 123
BEAT Eating Disorders – 0808 801 0677
NHS Emergency Helpline – 111


But that is not where the story ends I’m afraid. To this day, though rare as they can be, I still have anxiety attacks. About 3 years after my final counselling session, I had an attack for the first time while hosting a society event, while at university. I had been particularly stressed that day, in part due to the event, and when things had all died down and everyone was enjoying themselves, a sudden wave of panic overtook me.

Though my defences are very much the same, they are much healthier than before. I went to the nearest public bathroom and locked myself into one of the stalls. Instead of crying my eyes out, I practiced the breathing techniques I had learned, and broke down the anxious thoughts that were rattling around in mind. After about 15 minutes, I was back again.

The work for me at the moment is in the everyday things. I still get a little anxious about calling people up, especially for important business things. I also find myself not leaving my apartment often. Sometimes because I’m too depressed to leave, but usually it’s because my anxieties about spending money, or being harassed in some way, stop me from enjoying the new city life I’ve made for myself.

Is there any hope in getting over anxiety? A resounding yes! But I think I am just a generally anxious person anyway, and that’s something I have come to accept. If you are struggling with anxiety, please reach out to someone. Whether that be a friend or family member, a helpline, or a professional, just do not let yourself suffer in silence.

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