It’s strange to think what can trigger a thoughtful moment. A moment to reminisce about the journey I’ve been on over the last few years. I’m sat today, getting some jobs out of the way, listening to Enya (don’t judge. She’s a legend and I won’t have anything else said about it) and I just started thinking.
It’s been 7 years since I was initially diagnosed with anxiety. A diagnosis I didn’t really believe. A diagnosis I responded to with ‘I’ll get myself out of it’. What a load of bollocks that turned out to be. What surprises me whenever I delve that far back is just how terrified I’d become about my anxiety. Those who have read my blog will know that I struggled with a phobia of fainting, which was triggered by certain situations and would get worse the more anxious I got. When I get anxious I feel faint, and when I feel faint I panic, and when I panic I feel more faint. It’s like my brain wass doing the Phoebe from Friends evil laugh when her and Joey are trying to get Ross and Rachel back together. If you don’t understand that reference then our friendship is hanging by a thread and I urge you to send chocolate to rescue it.
The worse it got, the more it controlled my life. My behaviours were beyond what I’d consider even remotely normal. Example: I was senior manager of a design agency, second only to the owner, and in professional meetings I was reclined horizontally in my chair for fear that during the meeting I would faint. I couldn’t vocalise it, so no one knew. All they knew was how unprofessional this seemed. I cancelled events, I couldn’t even stand on the drive washing my car without opening the front door and having fast access to the sofa should I start to feel funny.
Even when writing it, I realise just how bonkers it seems, but that was my reality. Every second of every day was spent worrying I’d faint in front of people, in meetings, at the doctors, in hospitals, in town, queueing for a chocolate bar. It consumed everything about me, and began slowly chipping away until it eventually shattered me to a point where I thought there was no return.
Yet here I am, 7 years on, still alive. I’ve left my job and set up several businesses. I’m able to go out, I can walk my dog, I can go to the hospital, I can visit the doctors, I can go out for a meal, I can wash my car.
I can do so many thanks that people often take for granted, because I believed in my ability to get better. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fast, it wasn’t straight forward. For me, dealing with anxiety, or any mental illness for that matter, is an ongoing challenge. I know I’ll never be completely free, my brain doesn’t work that way, but that doesn’t mean I, nor anyone else can at least get to a point where they can live a relatively normal life appreciating the small things that make it so special. Like watching Friends.