As my holiday comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on what it’s done for my anxiety. To set the scene, I basically haven’t looked forward to a holiday, weekend away or day out for around 3 years. I dread everything about it, from the day trips to the travelling. I know anxiety will rear its ugly head, and I have to brace myself for that. Couple these feelings with the impending dread of going back to a job I hate and you’ve got yourself an awful mix of anxiety and panic. However, even though I get anxious, I start the holiday with the full intention of having a good time. I plan days I know I WOULD have enjoyed had I not got anxiety, I ensure we go places that push my comfort zone but allow me to step back into it, and most of all, just try to enjoy the time off. And this is the exact approach I took this time.
The week itself was going great, we travelled fine and called for lunch in an unknown pub (a challenge but I did it). We got to the place we were staying which was basically filthy, so I had that to sort out. Again, that was a big trigger, required confrontation and determination, but I did it. The second day was great, we had a lovely day out walking through a local seaside town which again is a big trigger but I did it. And this is how the week has progressed.
We’ve been on days out which I looked at head on. We went places I’d never go to, in buildings I wouldn’t dream of entering, but I did it. The week was going great.
Then it got tricky… I started to think forward to when I would be going to work, in a place where at the moment (and for the last 9 months) I hate being, and for some reason this brought on some anxiety for me, which seemed to continue. I drove us up a late hillside road which brought on a panic attack. I got through it OK, but this set me off.
The following day I started off with anxious feelings which brought on my IBS, and so began day-long physical symptoms! I didn’t like being in the town centre, I didn’t want to go up a hillside cable car, we called at a new place but I daren’t go through the turnstile. I basically was overrun with anxious thoughts, and I’d let it get the better of me. I turned to Twitter, where tweets from one of my followers spurred me on to heading past the turnstile and into one of the places I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t the main one but it was just as scary for me, but I was determined. I put my £1 in, took a deep breath, did a nervous trump (I’m joking) and went through. I walked down the huge stairs looking down on tall heights, all the while my legs shaking. I was, however, determined to take the photo I was here for. And I did. I achieved what I thought was impossible.
As we drove back to the place were staying, I felt very reflective. I don’t like giving in to anxious feelings. I don’t like being controlled by an anxiety disorder. The whole day was controlled by what I thought my anxiety disorder would let me do. Until I fought back, until I said ‘right, let’s go!’
This was my turning point and set me up for a great rest of my week. I drove the same road last night with just anxiety, no panic. I also was a passenger to what can only be described as a death road on the top edge a cliff, which I hated but did it.
What I’m trying to say is, anxiety will come at you from many angles. You will either be a student scared to start uni, a lovely person who daren’t make new friends or someone who daren’t leave the house. But no matter what your story is, anxiety feeds on fear, and loses out to confidence and challenges. Be positive, be who you are and keep fighting. When you have nothing else to lose but your life, it becomes everyone’s problem and you deserve their help.