Since my anxiety diagnosis, I’ve often felt a sense of grief for the person I once was. A confident, bright, optimistic guy with a good group of friends, very likeable and really approachable. He was cool. Quite a popular person who seemed to know everyone, go so many places and be prepared to face anything.
Anxiety, however, didn’t seem to like him, and over the space of around 12 months would chip away at him, making him crumble into a dust, and disappear with the wind. This made me sad. I had lost someone, I’d become reclusive, quiet, lost friends, I was irritable, unsociable and a shadow of the lad who no longer existed.
One new year I decided ‘that’s it, I’m going to get the old me back’. I sought therapy, I pushed myself so hard and powered through all of my fears over the space of 4 years and with grit and determination I pushed on through all of the troubles, dealing with it the only ways I knew how – sheer stubbornness.
Recently, I began to feel good again, I felt like I’d had a reunion with the fun guy who’d disappeared, looking at his life and seeing similarities again, but I couldn’t help but realised how different I still am the old me. The old me doesn’t have the scars that I do, he doesn’t show the same appreciation that I do, he can’t relate to people in the same way and he isn’t as empathetic.
As much as my lifestyle is becoming more similar to how I once was, I’m beginning to realise how different life looks when you’ve experienced something like crippling anxiety. You become more cautious in situations and around people, you show more empathy for other people’s situations no matter how socially unacceptable they may be. I don’t want to be friends with some of the same people because little did I know they were part of the cause for my anxiety and it’s only now I see it.
I don’t want to be the old guy anymore. Yes he was fun, popular, drank far to much and was a bit thinner than me, but I don’t need him. I have the chance to build a new me, make new friends with a clean slate, experience things with so much more appreciation – when you go through a period of being unable to go out, suddenly being able to go out becomes more fun and you appreciate it so much more. I’m not going to spend my time grieving for old me anymore. It’s time to let go, move on and build a new me. Exciting.