I had actually started writing another blog post before this one (as well as having a few others to post) however, my anxiety has decided to come out to play a lot more recently so I have decided to prioritise this one. I want to speak out about my anxiety, make people aware of what my experience of anxiety is. Some will relate and some will know nothing about it. You can't see anxiety, you can't touch it or hold it but you feel it.
I first really started to be aware of my mental health approximately 3 years ago. I guess I may have suffered with anxiety prior to that and not known what it was; I wasn't even the one to realise I was suffering with anxiety!
I started suffering with these "fainting episodes". I got to realise when one was coming on. I start to feel unwell, kind of a sick feeling and my shoulders start feeling heavy. A few minutes later I start to feel dizzy and light headed, from that point I know I have between 30-40 seconds to get my head between my legs or better still lay down before I faint. I get a cold sweat and am fairly out of it for a good few minutes. Post episode I am able to get up but I am incredibly tired after! I have only physically been sick once from it I am really thankful that doesn't happen every time. It has happened in the most inconvenient of places...the Ivy in London, an Anne Marie concert in Liverpool, an engagement meal, at a cafe in Covent Garden, etc. After a number of these I decided to go to the doctors! I was tested for diabetes, iron levels, etc. I had an ECG and the doctors couldn't put their finger on the issue. I was referred to the endocrinology department of Norfolk and Norwich but I never ended up going.
It was actually Louise who said to me I think you suffer with anxiety. My initial reaction was "of course I don't"! I have never been nervous in public places, being around a lot of people doesn't worry or concern me so I immediately put it down it definitely not being anxiety. But the more and more it happened, the more I started to notice it was always around times I was worried about something. It wouldn't always be a direct result of what I was doing at that time, it is almost a subconscious worry...something going on in the back of my head somewhere!
The best way to describe how I feel when I'm anxious is....you know when you feel so nervous about something you feel sick in your stomach? That is what it feels like! Sometimes I know why, perhaps I have a big event coming up, a big wedding to cater for, or my to do list is as long as my arm. This type of anxiety I know how to cope with more because I know why I feel anxious. The times I struggle with anxiety is when I get that horrible feeling but I don't know why, because that does happen. My mum will sometimes say are you OK you're not yourself today and I don't know why I am not myself, I just feel anxious. I think my anxiety stemmed from me running my business, it taught me to worry constantly. Running a business and working full time gives me a lot to deal with and my ex future husband cheating on me sent my mental health into a bit of a downward spiral. I ended up struggling to breath (I never understood the whole breath into a paper bag thing you see on movies until now), crying, shaking, scared to go to the supermarket at the fear of bumping into him (and her). I have never really struggled to sleep prior to finding out about what he did but I have had many nights where I am awake at 3/4am with my brain going over and over and over things although this has calmed down since I have moved back home.
What makes me sad is there is no cure for anxiety. Anxiety responds well with therapy such as counselling, psychology, etc, but I have certain things that I know helps with my anxiety - my own therapy...my coping mechanisms. I had to learn when I was feeling anxious, then determine what was making me anxious (if I could) and then decide the best way of going about dealing with it. I used to take a big comfort in my ex partner; just being around him settled me and being able to talk to him, however I lost that, so I have then had to look at other ways. If I am feeling anxious caused by having a lot on the first thing I do is write a list. People joke about me and my list making. I am one of those who makes a list of the different lists I need to make! I can absorb the information and get my head around what I need to do so much more when I see it written down in front of me! I feel more in control. Another main coping mechanism for me is baking. I love baking, I find it really therapeutic and it actually calms my mind! A lot of the time I will bake something not because I want to eat it as most of the time I don't, I bake just to bake and let others do the eating. My new found coping mechanism is looking at different places I could potentially visit and travel to in the future. I guess whether it be baking, googling places to travel, reading, the whole idea behind it is to occupy your mind with something else to take the attention away from what I'm feeling anxious about in the first place.
Anxiety also makes me paranoid. If I go to call either of my parents and I can't get through sometimes it will send me into a bit of panic...has something happened, why don't they have signal, are they ok, are my grandparents ok...yet sometimes it doesn't bother me and I just think "ok they're busy"! I will overthink situations, I will worry that I have done something to upset my friends or family even when I know I haven't done anything. Anxiety is a full time battle, it's tiring.
There's very few people I talk about my anxiety to in depth, it isn't something I feel overly comfortable in talking about out loud, I think that's probably because I still don't fully understand it myself. It feels good to write it all down and those who I do speak about it with, I don't feel afraid to say "I feel really anxious today". It would also be nice to speak with other people that also suffer with anxiety, depression, etc so please do get in touch if you do! My own mental health struggles has led me to booking myself onto a mental health first aid course in January. I think its really important to have a mental health first aider in every workplace and I am also hoping the course is going to help me understand my mental health better.
If your struggling with your mental health please talk to someone. If you don't have someone to talk to you and you need help get in contact with Mind mental health charity
They are an amazing charity that help thousands of people! Don't suffer in silence. Speak to Mind, speak to a friend or family member, or speak to me. Try not to let it consume you.
Thanks for reading