What Anxiety Feels Like #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Anxiety to me is overthinking EVERYTHING you do and every step you take.
Anxiety to me is losing the strength to get up everyday just to feel disappointment.
Anxiety to me is pretending to be okay when deep inside you want to scream.
Anxiety to me is feeling overwhelmed but trying to look put together on the outside.
Anxiety to me is feeling like you are never good enough and work until you burnout.
Anxiety to me is seeing the world move around and you are just a mere spec in it.
Anxiety to me is crying on your own because you feel like no one will understand.
Anxiety to me is seeking help and being told to get over it.
This is what anxiety is to me.
In 2016, I found myself over committed to so many things i.e work, business, studying and pretty soon I realised my plate was over flowing. I was trying to keep it together but in that, there was a deep problem creeping in me.
I found myself constantly tearful at the thought to messing something up so I stopped whatever I was doing.
I felt like people were constantly judging me for the way I look, how I talk, walk, sit and scrutinise everything that I say. The thoughts alone made me so exhausted to the point where my body ached and my brain felt constantly full that I did not want to get up any more.
I got a great job earlier in the year and one single day filled with those thoughts, I quit my job the next day by text. I found it hard to follow through with commitments and always found an excuse to get out of it.
Everyone called me a quitter.
I stopped seeing friends and attending their events or outings. The thought of them judging me too was enough to make me close my curtains and send a text to cancel (sorry guys).
From exhaustion, I was snappy at my biggest cheerleader (my mum) and I cried after - out of guilt.
No one understood me.
I tried to tell my mum – ‘just get up and stop overthinking everything’ – thanks but it is not that easy. I wish it was.
I tried to tell my cousin – ‘I don’t think you have it. People with anxiety show physical symptoms and have things like panic attacks or sweaty palms’ – inaccurate, there is a reason why mental health is called invisible illness.
I cried in my car after dinner with my cousin. It had taken everything in me to gear up to saying something and it felt like someone had just built a brick wall around me except I was on the outside.
Walking to church one day, I saw blossoms growing and I realised it was Spring. Then it dawned on me… I have been walking around like a zombie just to get by each day that I didn’t realise the days were just passing me by. Instead of church (sorry God) I walked into the Break the Record office and registered for free counselling.
I have never worked my mind so hard. My counsellor talked me through my life and taught me coping methods that I tried out each week to figure out what worked best for me. I fought through sleep paralysis, which I experienced every time I felt stressed. She got me to write good things about myself and the most valuable thing she did for me? … she listened.
She mentioned that when I first walked in, she was a bit surprised as I looked like someone who was put together so she was curious to know what I was there for. As she started to unravel my many layers, she realised why and confirmed my fear – I had mastered the art of faking it to the point where a qualified counsellor questioned why I was there. I was a thriving business owner - I couldn't let people see me crumble. (Or so I thought)
After 12 sessions, I felt lighter. I felt ready to enjoy life. I felt ready to make my business a success, finish my studies and get a job.
I was stopped in my tracks. I thought I was cured then I realised the thoughts were coming back. I was feeling overwhelmed again.
I remembered my coping methods. For me it is mindfulness and writing down the worst-case scenario (this helps me realise that things aren’t as bad as I thought).
Then I am back on those tracks, ready to make my dreams come true.
Anxiety is something that doesn’t just go away, I fight it everyday.
A lot of people suffer from it but some just don’t realise it and push through.
Anxiety can come at any point in your life.
It is NOT something someone can just get over or shoo away.
It affects any part of your life big or small.
If someone comes to you – even if you don’t understand, just listen. Be a friend or that shoulder to cry on (it is well needed when someone plucks up the courage to tell you). Understand that it affects everyone differently so don’t generalise.
If you suffer from anxiety or any form of mental health. You are not alone – there is plenty of help and support out there. Talk to someone. Work places usually have Employee Assistance Programmes to speak to someone and your local council should have a help service. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE. I promise it gets better.
I am an entrepreneur.
I am an HR Professional.
I am an aunty, sister and friend.
I am a student.
I also have anxiety.
I am not afraid to admit it.
If you need help and don’t know who to reach out to – check out Mental Health Org.
Hang in there!