A couple of years ago, my anxiety was at its worst. Each day was a struggle. I’d wake up and already feel drained and anxious about the day ahead. My worries consumed me. I had a big grey cloud hanging over my head, threatening to rain down on me any minute. But I didn’t let anxiety hold me back. I carried an umbrella. You shouldn’t let anxiety hold you back either.
The Worst Days
The worst days of my anxiety had me experiencing the Sunday night feeling every. I just dreaded what was going to happen each day, even though nothing really terrible happened at all. It was like I was living inside my head, inside a constant horror movie. One that was full of twists and turns, and seemingly never ending.
My stomach felt like it was in constant knots and I would over analyse everything and anything. If someone suggested anything remotely out of my comfort zone, I would decline and not attend or go. I wouldn’t push myself. Ever.
I just did what I could to get by each day. There were situations I didn’t want to be in, so I made sure I was never in them. I was in my own bubble. One I did not want popped.
How I’ve Moved On.
The best thing that I ever did for myself was to seek help. I went through the NHS Steps to Wellbeing program and was, thankfully, given one to one counselling. It is one of the best things I have done for myself.
My counsellor taught me about danger and threat levels. This stuck with me. Say you’re afraid of sharks and you watch Jaws, you would be feeling a danger level of 10 and a threat level of 10. Now, if you’re in the ocean swimming away from one, this would be accurate. But, if you are just watching a movie, your threat level should be at zero.
I had to apply this to my life. I had to realise that just because my brain thought that I was constantly being threatened, it didn’t mean that I was in imminent danger.
My counsellor taught me other tools and coping mechanisms. I learnt so much. I then would practise my new tools and practises as much as I could. It was an incredibly difficult few years. I was running uphill, carrying a weight on my back. It was heavy, but every few yards, something would drop out of the bag and make it that little bit lighter.
There were many pitfalls, stumbles and bumps in the road. It’s not been a linear line of improvement. It’s been all over the place. But I kept going. I kept carrying that load, letting it get that bit lighter over time.
What I do Now That I would Never Have Done Before.
It sounds ridiculous, but there are things I do now that I would have found impossible two or three years ago. They may seem simple to someone else, but to me they were a big deal.
Recently, I’ve started volunteering for my children’s PTA at school. This was a huge thing for me, considering I would have firmly shook my head and said “No” at the idea a few years back, without even putting much thought into it. This time round, I thought “Why not?”. The first meeting was a bit nerve-wracking, but since then I have really gotten into it and I am doing something that will further my confidence, abilities and something that gets me involved with the local community.
I also began networking as part of my mission to get my self employed business off the ground. Again, this is something I was actively avoiding a year ago.
Even small and simple steps, like going out with a group of people I didn’t know well, or going to a friend’s house for the day was a big mission for me beforehand. Now, I look forward to things like this.
I often sit back and reflect. I sit there and realise that I am doing things that I would never have considered doing before. It upset me too much and made me too anxious.
How I’ve Improved With Time.
It’s easy to fall into a trap in the early days of anxiety thinking that you will never get better. That you will never do certain things again, because it is too much of a strain for you. Thankfully, over time I have improved.
There are still things I feel anxious over and still things I’m not too comfortable with, but my hope is that I continue to improve with time. I urge anyone feeling hopeless, to set themselves small goals that they can achieve. This will boost your confidence bit by bit, allowing yourself to build up to the bigger things.
I Constantly Challenge Myself.
For me, giving into my anxieties is not an option. I constantly challenge myself to push my limits. It’s not easy at times, sometimes I just want to curl up and revert back to saying “No”. But, I know that will get me no where in the long run.
So I set myself challenges, I think of a reward I’d like at the end of it; whether thats a foot rub from my Husband or a chocolate bar. But I reward myself for achieving things that cause me anxieties. I sit through the uncomfortable feelings and I push myself as much as I can do.
Anxiety is a horrid monster that takes over your whole being, if you don’t chip away at it bit by bit. I found that when I don’t push myself and I remain comfortable in my own bubble, the anxiety ends up creeping in and making what I can do at the time seem impossible again, then everything gets worse. Whereas, if I’m brave and take a big breath and chip away at it, I can push my limits and boundaries, experience new things and reduce the anxiety bubble.
Keep Going, It Gets Easier.
If you’re at a point in your life where you feel overwhelmed by the future, by social plans or events, please keep going. Don’t let anxiety win. Life gets easier. It really does, you just have to believe in yourself and your abilities.
Anxiety has a habit of making you feel like you can’t achieve anything. Your self-worth and self-esteem is low and your confidence is at rock bottom. Going shopping or to a friends house may seem like climbing a mountain, bit it won’t always feel like this.
Keep going. Keep pushing yourself that little bit at a time outside of your comfort zone. That is where the growth is.
Even The Bad Days Get Easier.
As time goes on, you will find that although the bad days don’t disappear entirely, the bad days get easier. The bad days also don’t last as long. Where you may be stuck in an anxiety rut at the moment, it won’t always be a rut.
Even that awful feeling of dread lessens as time goes on. Time is a great healer and that is certainly the case here.
My bad days have lessened drastically. I no longer feel the constant Sunday night dread. I just aim to improve myself and challenge myself frequently. Anxiety doesn’t not own me, it is just a dragon I have to aim to take charge of.
Like me, don’t let anxiety hold you back. Keep going. One day you’ll look back and realise you could overcome it. Just take one step at a time.