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?
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.