I started writing this 3 weeks ago. It wasn’t the planned post for today, but I noticed that the topic was getting me angry and I didn’t want to write in a place of rage so that post will have to wait.
My anxiety is the calmest of my mental illnesses, sometimes I physically forget about it because I feel like I’ve made so much progress since I got diagnosed with it when I was eleven. However, my panic attacks are less controlled. Sometimes I come across my triggers and I can’t see, or breathe, or talk and I feel like I’ve got such a heavy weight on my heart and I can’t help myself. In my last year of university, I was having panic attacks most weeks, mainly after tutorial meetings where despite being ahead, I was overwhelmed with feelings of failure and stupidity. After lockdown began, my panic attacks became much more frequent and as the final submission dates crept forwards I couldn’t help regretting thinking I was good enough for university. Sometimes trying to explain that to people was the hardest thing, having ‘made it this far’ ‘why was it so hard to do the last two assignments’; but that’s the thing with my anxiety I can’t control when I’m going to feel useless and though I know it’s somewhat stupid I can’t stop it.
My triggers come from my past experiences and especially ones surrounding education having grown up in a household of high achievers, it was difficult being the only person who wasn’t educationally bright. This means that in times where I put my brain to the test, I often underestimate myself and flashbacks of being told horrible things from teachers throughout school come back and haunt me. I don’t personally believe that past experience triggers will ever leave, and that’s probably what makes them even harder as if I don’t learn to control them then I will probably spend the rest of my career having panic attacks over the fear that my previous education could impact my chances of job hiring. But despite that I am learning that despite failing my A Levels; I have been accepted to numerous jobs, my undergraduate and postgraduate degree. So as much as I know I can’t just say GCSE and A Level grades don’t matter- I am doing pretty well without them.
My anxiety is generally tame; I don’t really speak up out of turn, I don’t generally put myself in situations which make me uncomfortable and I usually have to hype myself up before something or I risk having a panic attack if things aren’t in my specific type of order. I’m a very organised person, my friends would always laugh at me because I would organise holidays, day outs, everything basically weeks or even months in advance. I didn’t really understand why I felt the need to do this, until I started to let other people take control or not plan everything and I noticed my anxiety heighten. Though I know I can be flexible if I have to be, I know I can’t push myself too much with that knowledge. I’m not a spontaneous person, I don’t think I ever will be. The most spontaneous I’ve ever been is deciding to go out two hours before, and I’d still be a ball of stress on those nights.
I have learnt a lot about myself over the years, my insecurities stem from not feeling good enough, feeling used and feeling judged. I never felt that I was enough, I still don’t believe it most the time. I believe I am easily replaced, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. Yes, I can be replaced, there is billions of other people on Earth and if someone finds something better either in relationships or friendships and I get left behind it happens. It sucks a lot but not everything is forever. I would be lying if I didn’t feel that some of the relationships, friendships or situationships I have ended up in over my 21 years didn’t feel like I was being used and not actually cared about. I recently worked out that I attract people who feel pretty insecure, I take their pain on as I don’t want anyone to feel that way therefore suffocating myself and they walk away with a new sense of freedom. This is toxic. I deserve better than this. But I don’t give myself better than this. Judgement is inevitable, no one is completely judgement free. I’d love to say I don’t judge anyone but of course I do in my head, I try not to act on my judgements though I know I have slipped up in the past but yeah people judging me is nerve-wracking.
So, how do I deal with it? I am very good at acting confident and going home and crying to myself. If I am really anxious about something, I usually put it off, I’ll sit and cheer myself up instead. I find keeping a tight schedule, not necessarily sticking to it but at least having one and trying to keep to it does keep me in a much more positive place. I find breathing is so important, and that sound so stupid but learning how to control your breathing and grounding yourself. I tend to focus on one thing around me, this stops me from metaphorically floating away and ending up in a larger panic. I do genuinely advocate for crying. I don’t think there is anything that is genuinely more important than getting a good cry out the way, and depression forts. Depression forts are so important, that’s my happy place. In a load of pillows and blankets with Miranda or the Office (US of course) playing with some fruit and chocolate. Nothing I love more.
My anxiety is worse over my health, that’s actually where it hits the roof. I am a bit of a hypochondriac. I think the worst because then if it’s anything better I feel better. Over my three years at Plymouth University I went to almost every GP there was at least once for an appointment, blood test or ultrasound. I basically lived in the GP or hospital. When I’m ill I sometimes feel so out of control and out of place that not only does my head race, but my confidence drops as I feel like something major is wrong with me. I know it’s not true and I am just overreacting but even so I can’t help feeling that way. I know it is annoying to people around me, and I know it is very dramatic to be as cautious as I am, but I’ve left things before and the consequences were difficult.
I am a woman with a lot of control of her life. I know what I want to do, maybe not specific jobs but at least the field. I know where I want to be, and I know how to get there. My health stops me. I want to be a mum, but I am infertile, the chances are minimal and that hurts me. I want to exercise and lose weight, my PCOS stops me, my chest is too big to exercise comfortably. My health stops me from living quite literally my best life. If my health didn’t get in the way so much maybe my anxiety wouldn’t be as hurtful as it is but I truly can’t help it.
This is a bit different than where I was expecting this post to go. I’ve rewrote this so many times I forgot what the first draft even consisted of. I have more anxieties, but these are the ones most relevant to me currently. I’d just like to point out I do plan on writing about my PCOS and infertility later on but every time I’ve began I’ve ended up crying so that’ll be a while. I am coming back to London on Saturday after a much-needed trip away and my posts will be more regular than forgetting sometimes, I hope that tomorrow I get my act straight and put something up to post Saturday but can’t guarantee. Anyway, I’ll try and do another post on my anxiety another time going into more judgements and opinions of others. Thank you for reading !!!