Today’s post isn’t about baking or beauty products or clothes, but about something a little deeper and more personal, especially to me. I want to talk about anxiety and share some of my experiences with it.
I know it’s a little out of schedule but I’ve wanted to write something along these lines for a while now and was finally triggered to do it by a Buzzfeed article I read on the tube the other day (you can read it here).
I suffer with anxiety which at times get so bad that it sends me into a very depressive state which can last for several days; sometimes I feel so heavy with the emptiness of my anxiety that I let it consume me which isn’t healthy but it’s very difficult to tell yourself ‘no, snap out of it’. I had a complete breakdown in my first year of university due to multiple factors, including having been diagnosed with my anxiety shortly before starting. I could barely leave my room, get dressed, let alone face a whole new world of independence and unfamiliarity. It was all too sudden for me and I was in completely the wrong place to have started it all, which is why I took a year out to just fix myself and have a break from the continuous pressure I put on myself to do well with school.
Lots of people think that anxiety isn’t really a mental disorder and that it’s all in your head, that people who say they suffer with it are just finding excuses for how they behave and can just snap out of it at any time & stop worrying about everything. That’s not what it is at all, it’s a very complex condition.
It’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly where this all started for me, but I can’t remember a time in my teenage years when I didn’t feel at least somewhat anxious. Quite a lot of heavy stuff happened around when I was 15 which made this condition 10X worse than it previously was, but I think it’s always been ticking over in my mind. There are certain things that trigger my anxiety and I am constantly worried about a few things even though I know there’s nothing I could possibly do to change them; I’m not a worrier by nature but it definitely comes in very emotional waves.
I find it easy to strike up conversations with people and am generally happy and easy to talk to, but after a few sentences I start to either lose focus or panic because I can’t think of anything else to say, and then the conversation becomes quite awkward. I’m not very good in large groups either because I never know whose attention I need to get or where to jump into the conversation, so I usually just let it all wash over me.
Having anxiety means that my mind is always racing and calculating about 100 different things at once, especially in the evening. I constantly have lists of things I need to do, making notes of stuff so I don’t forget it, planning my days so that nothing can go out of the strict time allowances I’ve given myself to minimise the risk of anything going wrong. These racing thoughts aren’t always negative, sometimes it’s even helpful to be like this, but when I hang on to one negative thought it can spiral into loads of different ones and I end up unable to drag myself out of it.
I only know a couple of people who have been diagnosed with anxiety and everyone reacts to it in different ways. Mood swings, worrying about things, racing thoughts, feeling helpless, these are all common things that happen to people with anxiety and it often goes hand in hand with depression and other mental illnesses that people look upon as stigmas. I definitely think that people should be made more aware of the differences between anxiety and depression but also the seriousness of anxiety; it’s just the same as other disorders that are taken more seriously because they have more obvious symptoms. The main thing about anxiety is that it’s all happening in your mind, 24/7. Although people might not exhibit many symptoms especially if they’ve grown good at keeping it all below the surface, it doesn’t mean that there’s not a whirlwind of stuff happening inside that’s just waiting to crash down and take over.
I think the best advice I could give for someone who has anxiety and wants to try and manage it is to think of the most positive things about your day. During the last year I’ve changed my outlook on life and have become much more positive; in everything that I do or everything that happens, I find at least one positive silver lining, otherwise I know I’ll just let myself mull over the negatives. It may be hard, especially when you’re worrying so hard about so much, but letting at least one positive thing in and holding onto that makes all the difference.
I used to feel physically heavy with it all, my bones would ache from the strain of holding myself up, but since I’ve tried to become more positive in my outlook I’ve noticed that I am much lighter. It’s getting easier every day; I’ve lost my fear of being in crowded spaces, although I still don’t like it being loud. I sing or talk to myself in my head so that I have something to concentrate on when I’m on the tube or in a busy area other than the crowds and noises. Find little things that trick your mind into glazing over the heavier stuff and then tackling what’s worrying you in a calmer setting later is really helpful and can prevent panic attacks and those horrible hazy moments where you don’t even know where you are.
It’s easy for me to say all of this, and I know that everyone is different. Some people suffer so badly with anxiety that it prevents them from going about their daily lives without struggling. I think it’s really sad that some people are this inhibited by anxiety and yet it’s not a mental affliction that’s taken as seriously as eating disorders or depression- people fail to notice that these things actually go hand in hand and can all stem from anxiety itself. I know my anxiety affects me daily; I’m often nervous and irritable, it makes me a more mercurial and obsessive person, I have trouble dealing with certain situations and I am prone to bouts of depression when I let it take over. Sleep is also a problem and I often can’t get to sleep if I’m on my own; I had a massive fear of dying in my sleep throughout high school and would only get 2-3 hours sleep a night. I have massive trouble with my self confidence which might not be apparent from my instagram or the things I post on here, but it’s so easy to hide behind a camera rather than building up the confidence to feel comfortable with myself in real life.
Anxiety is a serious affliction, one of the most prevalent in the UK; 4.7% of people suffer from anxiety and almost 10% of the population have a combination of anxiety and depression like myself. It’s important that people recognise the signs and if they feel they might have anxiety that they go to a GP or someone who can help manage the condition. It is a very under-reported condition which can be seriously debilitating and I think that more people should be made aware of the severity of it.
Some helpful websites to look at are;
If anyone reading this suffers with anxiety then I just want to tell you that it’s going to get a lot easier one day even if it might not seem like it, and that you’re definitely not alone in how you’re feeling.