I wasn’t diagnosed with anxiety until I was around 18 years old. I had gone on a girls holiday to Ibiza and within 24 hours I was on a flight a home. That was when i truly realised that something wasn’t quite right. I was so confused, I was so used to being with my friends getting drunk.
My mum dragged me to the doctors, but I wasn’t ready to talk. I was told to make a self referral to health in mind. I received 6 weeks of CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) but because I wasn’t ready to talk (or listen), nothing changed.
I spent the next year of my life becoming more and more withdrawn from everything. I couldn’t work out for myself why i felt like i did so how could I of possibly explained it to anyone else.
My friends became frustrated because I no longer wanted to go out and do what normal 18/19 year old girls wanted to do. I didn’t ever explain to them how I felt, so they stopped asking. I spent my evenings and weekends in bed watching snapchats of my friends having the most fun and making incredible memories.
I was in the same routine where I would go to work and come straight home and get into bed. The people that I did interact with would often say how confident and outgoing I was, but they had no idea.
I would spend my weekends in bed and would frequently worry about what excuse I could use should a friend get in touch, or my boyfriend suggest we go out.
After around 18 months and my mood becoming lower and lower I decided I needed to get some help. I went back to Health in Mind and referred myself for the same CBT as before, but this time it was different because I wanted to talk.
I went through the 6 weeks of CBT and this time it started to sink in. They were giving me strategies on how to cope and tasks each week to try. Things started to seem like they were getting better. I finished my 6 weeks of CBT with a whole new lease of life. I thought I was cured, it quickly occurred to me that this was not the case.
My friends had always known I suffered with anxiety, but I could never tell them what triggers it. I started to go out a bit more, but I would drive so I would have an escape route if i needed too. I would agree to doing things but i would still lie and pretend I had plans later that day so I had an excuse to leave.
Things were improving but not how I thought. I remember thinking to myself I have to start identifying my triggers. So whenever I felt that wave of anxiety starting to come over me, I would write down what I was doing and what I was thinking about. I started to realise the pattern, I started to understand my triggers.
I started to talk with my friends, family and boyfriend about how I was feeling. I was able to tell them what situations made feel a certain way. I was still using the tools CBT had given me to work through my anxieties.
I never fully realised the impact of how telling people how I felt would help with my journey.
I remember specifically i had decided to go on a night out with my friends and not drive. I didn’t have that escape route i normally had. I was out and it was busy, I started to feel as if i was going to explode and out of no where my friend Nicole grabbed my hand and whispered to me “I am so proud of you”. It was at that moment that it dawned on me how important it was that I was being open and honest about my feelings. She will never ever know the impact those 6 words had on me.
From that day on I continued to tell my friends and family how I felt. That really was the key i had been missing. If I think back to when I was keeping it all into myself, it was unsustainable.
You often see people saying “always check in with loved ones” & that is so true. But if you are suffering with something my biggest words of advice would be don’t suffer in silence, there are so many people who love you & so many people who can support you – even if you don’t think they can.
My key tips for when anxiety is bad….
- Talk to someone you love, it doesn’t have to be about how you’re feeling. Just talk to them, they will make you laugh and make you strong.
- A good bath with a bath bomb – Lush’s Sex Bomb is a personal fave
- Face masks!
- Lavender oil
- Yoga/Meditation there are SO many youtube videos on how to do this. So you don’t even need to leave the house!
- Chocolate (always!)
- Sleep – Anxiety will always make you feel like you’ve done 20 rounds with AJ so sometimes you will need to sleep it off!!
- Be kind to yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Try and do what you’re anxiety is telling you not to do. That feeling of accomplishing something you didn’t think you could is phenomenal.
I have done a whole post on ways to reduce anxiety here
I still continue to ride the wave of anxiety but I no longer do it alone. This is a battle that I will always have to face, but I know I never have to face it alone.