So this is my first blog! I’ve been telling my story on Twitter but I’ll be honest, 140 characters doesn’t do much for someone with a bucket load of issues.
I thought I’d use this post to explain when my anxiety began, what’s happened, what’s changed, and where I’m going. I wrote this a while ago one night when I couldn’t sleep. It was the same night I decided to speak up about my anxiety via Twitter, and began my journey of accepting my anxiety and deciding to deal with it
So 2014 began with me making a promise to myself. After a difficult christmas, feeling low, down and in the darkest place I’d ever been, I swore I would tackle my anxiety head on. I was being controlled by anxiety and panic, and had been for 18 months and to be honest, I was tired. Tired of being scared, tired of worrying about worrying, tired of being. It was time to face up to it. It was time to look back at that strong, stubborn person I was and bring him back to the front because without him, it wasn’t going to happen. It started with a phone call, as I arranged round two of my cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT as its otherwise known. I’d had a session before which worked to an extent, but I still had questions. I still hadn’t gotten answers to some of my biggest problems and this was causing me more problems. I made the call because quite honestly, I don’t know how much longer I could have gone on trying to live with anxiety. I was never a danger to myself because I’m a strong believer in the fact that help is out there. My problem wasn’t feeling there wasn’t any help, my problem was admitting I needed it. I told the lady on the phone I’d had enough. I’d done with trying to avoid situations, trying to live with getting anxious in every simple scenario, I couldn’t even eat dinner with my family without getting hot and bothered, shaky and light headed. It was the worst I’d been, and I was definitely ready.
After speaking with the lady, we agreed that I needed intense CBT. The session I’d had before gave me a kick start, but I needed to be shown the answers to the questions I had. The waiting list was long, almost 12 weeks, but I’d waited this long so I was ready.
The first session, I was nervous. It was in a doctors surgery, a place I feel anxious about, and from the beginning I was shaking, legs twitching, heavy breathing. However, I knew I was there for a reason, and thought ‘well they’ll just have to understand, this is why I’m here’. As I was called, I walked down, legs like jelly, sweating and hot. As I got in the room, I mentioned how difficult it was and asked that she would bare with me. And that she did – she was excellent. Not once did she make me feel uncomfortable. My legs were all over the place (a nervous twitch I have), I was fidgeting, restless and continually anxious throughout, but she was patient and unfazed, and I stuck with it for a whole 50 minutes, something I never thought I could do. After talking through my problems, explaining my issues, and talking through what I’d done before, it was the end of the session. I’d done it, I’d stayed there, Id gotten over the panic, and she even pointed out ‘your legs stopped shaking’, which I hadn’t even noticed. I got to the car and called my girlfriend to tell her all about it. She has been incredible throughout everything. She fights to make scenarios easier for me, she fights to help me tackle my issues and she listens. If I find something hard or feel I can’t do it, she stands behind me and makes the fight so much easier. In all honesty, I don’t think I’d be here today without her.
After I got off the phone I drove to work. I felt empowered, a new lease of life. I’d done it! I’d faced up to panic, and stuck with it, and it felt amazing. This was the start of my journey, a journey where my life would start to become easier.
As the weeks went by, I began challenging myself, trying new things, pushing my own boundaries. To some people, popping to the supermarket is nothing, but to me it was everything. It was a nightmare, one of the hardest things Id try and do, which I’d spend the whole day planning, the whole day worrying about and half an hour in there tackling my demons, but I would do it, because I knew I had to. And this went on, I tried new things, I pushed my boundaries. Panic came, but panic went. Each time it got easier. Each time I felt so much more confident. I went from the scared lad who couldn’t step foot in a corner shop without shaking, panicking, feeling faint, to a lad who was walking into Morrisons, going because I wanted to go. It felt amazing.
As the weeks went on, my sessions were coming to a close. As I spoke with my therapist, she asked me what I’d gotten out of it. My reply was simple, ‘I started these sessions looking for answers. Why am I going hot? Why do I shake? Why do I feel faint? Will it stop? Will it go away? All of these questions were making my fight harder. But there isn’t an answer to each one. I was looking for a million and one reasons why I felt the way I did, but there is only one reason. It’s anxiety. All of these things are just anxiety. A normal, natural way for our body to deal with situations. It comes. It goes. It’s as simple as that.
I know there are people reading this who think that’s easy to say, when you’re in the darkest place you think you’ll ever be. And you’re right, it is so easy to say. But I’ve been there, believe me, I’ve felt like there’s no answer. I’ve felt like there’s nothing anyone can do. I’ve been laughed at, sneered at, I’ve had people huff and puff because I can’t do things, I’ve had my job questioned because I couldn’t fulfil certain tasks, I’ve done all of this, but guess what? I’m still here.
I face new challenges every day. Sometimes I have a week where my anxiety is bad and I don’t want to do things again, but the key is to get back up and do it. Keep fighting it every day. And every day, the fight becomes that much easier.
2013 ended with me in such a dark place, but I found the strength to speak to my mum, I picked up the phone and I made that call. The call that absolutely changed my life. And now, 1 year on, I’m not scared of who’s house I’ll be going to or what meals I have to go.
I don’t know who I’m writing this to, and I don’t know who out there will read and take something from it. But believe me when I say it DOES get better. It will get better IF you try. You don’t have to try much, you just have to reach out to someone who will try for you. It’s the one task that could change your life.
Now I’m going through 2015 in a brighter place. I know days won’t be easy, I know I’m going to be fighting for a long time but I’ve got my incredible family, my friends and my amazing girlfriend. And that strong, stubborn lad from 3 years ago? He’s back with a vengeance, and he’s not going anywhere.