Me Against My Social Life

I am sure that this will be one of the hardest blog posts I write, mainly because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone close to me. You see- that right there- worrying about offending someone- is what can make social lives difficult for those suffering from anxiety.

I am lucky, I have some decent, amazing friends around me. Some closer than others. But each one as important and serving a unique purpose in my life. But this doesn’t mean that having a social life comes easy, I am sure anyone else suffering from anxiety knows what I mean.

I constantly over analyse my social experiences.

Even with people that aren’t friends, be it a fellow Mum in the park or someone in the queue at the School gates. I come home and I am questioning what I should have said and shouldn’t have. I know many people do this- but still…. it can be exhausting. Because at the end of the day, it’s all been said and done and if someone didn’t like me or what I had to say then they aren’t worth my worries. Any friend, any true friend would see past any blunders or embarrassments. And any random person I spoke to, probably didn’t think twice about what I said. Most wouldn’t even notice or think much about certain things said or done. But that still doesn’t stop my mind from thinking about it.

You question whether you’ve offended anyone, come across as embarrassing, hurt someones feelings or just looked like an idiot in front of them. You then worry that they may not even want to see you again. And then you don’t want to come across as needy, you just don’t like to displease.

Making new friends.

If someone with anxiety has made new friends, this is an achievement, because it is hard to open up to new people, to be confident and forward enough to engage and ask to meet up. So when I have made friends and they’ve become a part of my life, and I’ve let them in, I wouldn’t want to risk loosing them. So I am constantly striving to please those around me, to make sure I am present and keeping in contact and making the effort to see them. Once I’ve opened myself up, I don’t need a person, but this person has privilege. Because I don’t open up to many and I don’t let many in.

The science behind the worry.

Mindfulness and anxiety books have taught me in the past that once your brain is hooked on one way of thinking, future thoughts tend to be steered in that direction- so if you are worried about a friend and whether they still want to hang out with you or if you have anything negative going on- you will then start to question all of your other friends and situations too. This is horrible and most of the worries are unfounded. Luckily, most of the time I try to remain level headed. But I also have to trust my gut. And when my worries are unfounded, I should not feel ashamed of the anxious thoughts and feelings, but rather recognise that I am human, we all make mistakes and we are not mind readers. And if we aren’t feeling confident enough to ask or be bold in a situation, that’s all we’re left with. I have some lovely and understanding friends who are patient with me, but in return I know that I also raise them up in the areas of life they feel down about.

I try to believe that what is meant to be, will be. And that anything that isn’t, I need to learn to let go.

I try harder now, to trust the freedom of friendships. As we’ve gotten older, friendships are far harder to maintain due to all of the different lifestyles we have, the different journey of life we are all taking. Some people work full time, others are stay at home mums, some people are single, others are married. Some people move away, others go travelling. Everyone goes off to be an adult and do their own thing. Sometimes it feels like we can be ‘left behind’ but this really isn’t the case. It is just the natural ebb and flow of life. Instead, I trust now that the true friends that are meant to be in my life, will be, no matter how often we go without talking or seeing each other. Ok, at times I may worry, but I try to remind myself that it will do no good. All I can be is myself. The right ones for me, that suit me will always stay.

We can’t remain friends with every single friend we’ve ever had- imagine how exhausting and draining that would be. But I believe that quality is better than quantity.

When you suffer with something like anxiety too, quality is definitely needed.

If you have a quality friendship with someone, then when you are in an anxious mood or feeling overwhelmed and you have plans, your friend will understand if you seem ‘off’ or most of the time for me-  just by being in their presence helps me to snap out of it and escape the prisons of my mind that anxiety puts me in. Ok, at times I get nervous going out, but I push myself to do it still. To help me to conquer this anxiety. To help make me even stronger.

My friends have helped me to become stronger. They have believed in me, even when I didn’t. They have been there for me in more ways than they will ever realise. I appreciate every park trip with a fellow Mum, every coffee out, every dinner out, every drink out and I appreciate every single time someone takes time to see me. Life is busy and we all have to prioritise. So when a friend chooses to spend some of their precious time, which we all know goes too quickly, with me- I feel lucky. Lucky to have people around me that make me smile everyday, laugh, have someone to turn to and I also love to be there for them too. To cheer them up and to show them how great they are. I love to make things for my friends, I love to help where I can. I think friendship has to be a two way thing, and as much as my friends make an effort with me, I make it back. I will always be there for those that need me.

Sometimes I wonder if my friends find my anxiety off-putting.

To be quite honest, I don’t bring it up much- that’s just another trick anxiety likes to play with our minds. Plus, in today’s world- where suicide rates are increasing at an alarming rate- I would be saddened to find if a friend did let it bother them rather than them be more empathetic as this is something I personally have to battle with. I certainly would never judge anybody for having anxiety– whether they get nervous about going to a certain place, or whether they like to check in and have some reassurance from me. Too many people hide away their anxiety- this is something that needs to stop and I think true friends are the exact people you should open up to. Real friends would never judge.

Friendships can be difficult when you suffer with anxiety.

Sometimes you feel like you just want to put on a brave face and hide it away. Somedays that’s the right thing, other days, don’t be afraid to turn to someone you trust for help. Any decent person would not turn their back on you.

A golden rule too- is never to compare your social life to others. We have all walked different paths in life- and continue to do so. Some have had more opportunities than others. Popularity as an adult is meaningless. Kindness, love and compassion in a person are far better qualities. Remember that social media is a highlight reel of someone’s life and not an accurate representation. There are no rules to having a social life. You can have as many or as little friends as you want. And you can see them and be social as much or as little as you want.

Although at times I find having a social life difficult- from feeling anxious about certain plans to worrying about upsetting friends or losing them- it’s important to keep trying. Because my friends have pushed me into situations that I never thought I’d be in (not in a horrible bossy way) but they’ve shown me my strengths, they’ve metaphorically held my hand and been so supportive. If it wasn’t for an old friend of mine, whom I’ve recently become close with again, I would never have started this blog and I am so glad I have because mental health isn’t discussed enough and now I realise it’s nothing to be ashamed of. My friends have given me so many memories and good times and they continue to do so. Recently, I went to a Drive In Movies with a friend- I was so nervous but she made it one of the best evenings because I was comfortable with her, she made me feel at ease. Now I am striving so hard to trust friendships more and the freedom in life. I will always be open to old, new or present friends to have a spot in my life and to be there for them- for the good and the bad times. I know that the right friends for me- the ones that raise me up, boost my happiness, give me strength and a shoulder to cry on- will always be there. Even when friends come and go, what’s meant to be will be.

To my friends that make this journey in life more joyful- thank you. I love you all.

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What are your greatest challenges when it comes to having a social life? Get in touch, I would love to hear your experiences.

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My 8 Favourite Quotes and How They Help My Anxiety

From time to time, I come across motivational quotes. I usually see them on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram. It’s amazing what an inspirational quote can do for the soul. Especially when one really stands out, you realise that you’re not alone in how you feel.
So what quotes really resonate with me? What feeds my soul and helps with my anxiety?
  1. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened- Dr Suess. I think this ones really important, it ties in with mindfulness quite well too- during our life we will experience so many different things, some will make us happy and some will make us sad. But say something happy happens like an amazing friendship or relationship or job; when that’s over does that mean it wasn’t a happy thing? No…. so we should be thankful for the past and present. It’s easy to cry because something good has past, but we should smile because we were that lucky to begin with and we should then focus on the future.
  2. Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind- Bernard M Banich. I’m always trying to please people and with anxiety comes a certain form of social anxiety. This can be really difficult to handle at times but quotes like this one do make me realise; whatever I say to my friends and family, they shouldn’t mind and will support me whatever the weather. But if people are finding me annoying/ irritating etc then those are the people who shouldn’t matter to me! If people are going to be negative and drag you down or make you feel embarrassed or bad then they shouldn’t be in your life anyway.
  3. Dance like nobody’s watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like no ones listening and live like it’s heaven on Earth- William W Purkey. I think we need to find more joy in the everyday life so I love this quote because we should be doing exactly what it says! Living a more mindful and joyous life to help cast away negativity and anxiety.
  4. You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams- Dr Suess. I love this, I think I first read this quote when I was falling in love with my husband and it is so true! Two children later and we love our sleep, but I also love our life that we’ve built together.
  5. Be the change that you wish to see in the world- Ghandi. It’s easy to blame the harshness on the World on others. But for me, I want to see more kinds in this World, but in order to see it more, we need to lead the way. By being kinder ourselves, I believe we initiate a change in our lives. We welcome change then and encourage it. We can’t be ignorant and continue to be selfish, we must be kinder ourselves if that’s the World we want to live in.
  6. In 3 words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life; it goes on- Robert Frost. This is a huge one for me. Anxiety can be so consuming and scary. It can be terrifying and when you’re going through a particular difficult patch, all hope can feel lost. So, when I see this quote I realise that everything I’ve endured, I have overcome and regardless of what rubbish situation I have been through in the past, life has always just gone on and things get a little easier each day.
  7. I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one bit yourself and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together- Marilyn Monroe. Again, when you’re in the midst of an anxiety meltdown, this quote has always helped to make me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, when I look back at particular parts of my past, I can actually think more clearly and realise that things did happen that way for a reason and usually at the end of the situation, I can see the reason. Don’t get me wrong, it’s frustrating when the reason is unknown or unclear yet and certainly thats when anxiety feels at it’s worse- because it’s the fear of the unknown that gets me. On the whole though, I do whole heartily agree with this quote and I have to remember it when I am feeling particularly anxious or upset about anything.
  8. You have to let people go. Everyone who’s in your life are meant to be in your journey, but not all of them are meant to stay till the end- Unknown. There are so many similar quotes out there to this one. I think a lot of the time I do feel quite anxious about my social life. I always get scared of losing friends and social media certainly doesn’t help. But, when I read quotes like this I realise that I have to let go and let what’s meant to be, be. Worrying or trying to control the situation does nothing and neither does beating myself up about it when a friend and I go our separate ways; as stated, it’s totally normal for this to happen. I just need to learn to let go.

Quotes can be a fantastic way of making sense of the world. It’s someone else’s pearls of wisdom written into lovely little statements that can be passed on from person to person and now we are able to access a huge world wide web full of them. OK, it’s good not to take them too seriously but they are great for a bit of mindful inspiration and I have found them fantastic for helping with my anxiety and making sense of the devil on my shoulder. For more ways of handling an anxiety flare up, check out this post. 

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How to Begin Tackling Anxiety

Anxiety is scary. It is terrifying. It can easily begin to take over your life through your thoughts, feeding on your fears and stopping you from going where you want to go in life, even if it is just into town to meet a friend. It makes you question your life, yourself and everything else. It leaves your mind curled up in a never ending tangle of thoughts, what ifs and whys. Before 4 years ago, I had never experienced anything like it. And those first couple of years of suffering with it were overwhelming and I felt like I had no control over anything. It was the most frustrating thing, being young and wanting to get on and do things with my life but fearing what would happen each time I even tried something new or even something old at times. I was ridden with worry. So how did I begin to tackle it?

I have already written a few posts about my anxiety, from Me Against Anxiety to How To Cope When Anxiety Flares Up.

In this post, I want to show you how I started to tackle the dreaded monster that sits on my shoulder, whispering to me why I can’t achieve something and telling me all of the possible ways an event could go wrong.

You see, there’s something anxiety hates. Something that a lot of people don’t realise. It’s something fairly simple. But it can make a huge difference. Anxiety hates it because it diffuses it’s power over you.

It’s like putting a glass over a giant spider. The spider’s still there, but somehow it’s easier to deal with beneath the glass. It’s a little less daunting.

So what is it? How can you begin to tackle the anxiety that you have been living with?

By talking.

It sounds daft. You talk all the time right?! Maybe you do even talk about the things that worry you. But I mean really talk about it.

I have seen so many terrible news reports on suicides this year. It breaks my heart that these people felt that they had no where else to turn, no one else to talk to. That this was their only answer. Why is mental health still not talked about enough? Perhaps people are afraid of what others will think, that they have to put on a show and a brave face. I’m saying we need to talk about it more. Don’t be afraid.

Honestly, I think if more people talk about it, soon we will realise that some of those crazy irrational fears we think we have turn out to be normal worries that a lot of people are thinking in their head but are too afraid to say it.

Let’s be open.

I used to hide my anxiety. I had a couple of friends that didn’t, and still don’t quite understand how I feel. They don’t realise the huge impact this can have on someone’s life. Yes, I have pushed myself and I have worked hard on battling it and getting somewhat better, but I still suffer. But the difference is, whether people understand or not, I talk. It is horrible when a friend doesn’t understand, but I realise now that that’s more of a flaw on them and their kindness then it is a flaw of mine.

If you speak to people more openly about anxiety, it takes anxiety’s power away. It’s no longer that secret monster on your shoulder whispering hurtful and frightening things. It’s an exposed monster. One that crumbles when it sees the light of day.

Whether it’s a friend or a family member, Samaritans or your doctor. Please just talk. Tell them how you feel, how you’re struggling and you will soon begin to see the anxiety monster get smaller and smaller and easier to deal with.

I’ve met some incredible new people lately… mostly Mums as we arrange play dates. All of them know I suffer with anxiety. I told them. I didn’t ‘bang on’ about it, but I did openly confess that it’s something I suffer with and that at times I get nervous and overwhelmed. Turns out, they’ve been through similar. Now I don’t need to mention it unless I feel the need, because by exposing it, I felt more comfortable. And now I can enjoy these lovely people’s company knowing that anxiety isn’t there- being my dirty secret. It’s exposed, and these people seem genuinely caring and understanding. I felt better for telling them.

We need to raise awareness. 

It’s surprising how common anxiety is. And I truly believe that the more we can talk about it to friends, family and our partners; the more we can tackle this together and raise awareness for mental health so that it becomes far less of a problem in our lives.

If you feel that you have no one to turn to, then please reach out to your doctor, or phone the Samaritans. No one is going to judge you for this. And no one should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed. Mental health affects so many people throughout their lives. It does not make us any less of an amazing human being. It just means that sometimes our brains get tired and need a little help, whether that’s as simple as talking to someone, or something more. We should do what we can to look after ourselves.

After all, a lot of people will talk about their physical pain- from migraines, to back pain, arthritis to tooth pain. Our mental health is just as important, if not more important than our physical health. So, we should just as openly talk about when we are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, scared or ridden with anxiety.

I still suffer with anxiety. Some days are worse than others. Some days I still feel alone, even when I know I should talk to someone. I feel like a burden. But then I realise that if a friend or anybody came to me saying they were suffering, I would want to help. There is too much sadness and suicide in the World. We need to talk and to listen. We need to raise awareness. Ask anyone you know, “Are you ok?” and listen, and don’t say their worries are silly. Because to them they are a mountain, even if it is a mole hill. With time, and your help, they will tackle that mountain until it becomes more manageable. So, I talk. I talk and I blurt it out, without worrying about judgement because I know how important it is to talk. And my goodness, does it feel better afterwards. So yes, I struggle at times still, but now I struggle with people around to help me. Or I struggle alongside someone else. But knowing you are not alone, is amazing.

Check out resources. 

There are some fantastic groups online for mental health too, check your local Facebook groups. Talk to people that are in the same boat. It really does make all the difference. There is hope for us all- we can do this. But please please, begin tackling anxiety by talking about it.

Follow my blog on Facebook to see some positive, motivational and honest open posts from time to time (link above). And please do comment and follow the blog to join me on a journey of tackling mental health.

You can call the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123. This phone number is free to call. 

Visit Mind for more resources and information on mental health.  

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