Anxiety for me is a guilty secret. It’s something I hide from people to ensure I’m thought no less of. I keep it to myself at work, amongst friends (OK, that’s ambitious, friend), most of my family don’t know about it because I don’t want anyone to see this as my weakness, see me as crazy, or anything else that comes along with the stigma of having a mental illness.
That is, until recently. I think after almost 3 and a half years, I’m beginning to accept the illness as a fact of life. I have it, I’m stuck with it, so I should now learn to live with it. After all, I spend a lot of time telling people it doesn’t matter that they have a mental illness, and they shouldn’t let other people’s perception affect their recovery, so I should perhaps practice what I preach.
It’s only recently I’ve felt differently, because for once in the last 4 years I feel in control, I feel like my life is now relatively normal. I say that, yet in comparison to most it’s still incredibly restricted, but to someone who couldn’t even go to the corner shop, it feels like freedom.
So to help me progress, I need to educate. A lot of my restrictions now are due to how I think others will act should I become anxious or have a panic attack. In order to remove this, I need to educate people to understand what I go through, what is happening and how I deal with it.
I spoke to my mum the other day abut telling some of the family. My auntie and uncle live about 1 1/2 hours away, and I never go due to anxiety amongst other reasons, and I make excuses about it, and the more it happens the more it gets noticed. So rather than go on with the charade, I chose to be open and honest. When my mum next goes to see them, I’ve asked her to tell them everything. It’s not that I can’t do the talking, I just never see them to do it. I’m not looking for sympathy as I’m a very independant person, I don’t want any help because I don’t need it. Instead, I am hoping that by telling them this it will allow them to understand my position and allow them to think differently about it.
I can’t promise it’s going to work, but I’m putting myself on the line (totally against my character) to see how this can help my recovery. What I do know is, over the last couple of months my anxiety has changed dramatically. It’s still 100% there, but I don’t feel as scared of it anymore. I have an urge to open up, to fight back and to have strength against it. I crave nice holidays, adrenaline rush challenges, the freedom to be me.
While ever I feel like this, I’m holding onto it, and I’m far too stubborn to let go.