Everything in the world is waiting for you for when you’re better

Yesterday, I could barely move.

I spent the day worrying about going into work the next. And I tried to forget by watching films, eating bad food and being incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin.

And then my mother, who is the only one in the world who cares about me more than herself, said: “Why don’t you just leave? You’re making yourself ill.”

My eyes lit up for the first time in twenty-four hours. I thought about it.

“I won’t let myself quit. Because I’d feel like a failure.”

She sighed, open mouthed.

“It’s not failure. Just stay at home and rest.”

I’m glad I have a supportive mother, somewhat at least. Sometimes she will say things that people with mental illnesses do not want to hear. But yesterday she supported me.

With that, I began to think that I could not live my life as a zombie. That I needed to stop before it killed me.

And so, I asked myself for permission to take some time off from working a job. Do nothing for two or three months.

And today, I have woken up to feelings of guilt, but equally feelings of resolve, that I can finally quit my job, and quit the outside world for a while. And just write. I find writing therapeutic.

I haven’t actually had any time off. I’ve been either in education or working all of my life.

And now, in my 30’s, I think the time has come. Because I just can’t keep up anymore. My health is suffering.

As you may know, I’m quitting my dream job that I worked so hard to get, to rest. So, I’ve battled through the dark, thick smoke that is my doubt and feelings of guilt and quitting.

It’s becoming a bit clearer now, and finally I can say stop.

I made this decision a few weeks ago, then I went back to work. Then I was off sick again, then I said I’d go back to work. Now, this is my final decision.

And yes I worry about what people will think of me. But they have not lived with crippling severe anxiety since they were children, have they?

Self-care is the most important thing. And if you can, take the chance and take some time to yourself. In our society, we forget to rest. We are always on the go. We need the career, we need the house, we need money, we need friends, we need the spouse, we need children. NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF.

What you are going through is different to others. Just because that friend or relative of yours, who is younger, has a better career than you, or is married, doesn’t mean you failed.

If you’re feeling like you need to stop or else you’ll drop dead, then stop. Too many times we see people burning out.

Well, the way I feel I think I have burnt out… but, well I guess it’s either rest or commit suicide.

Everything in the world is waiting for you for when you’re better. Don’t believe that you have to GO GO GO all of the time. Even early-man slept through the day, when the sun was at its highest. They didn’t work themselves to death. Why should we?

 

Why Hattie Gladwell’s Twitter video of her snivelling pathetically annoys me

I’ve been posting about anxiety for a while now.

So basically it follows me around like a dark cloud of doom, and for years I have battled it.

And it’s true when I was younger I couldn’t handle certain situations like go out into the street or go visit relatives.

But you know what? I grew out of it.

I’ve been following Hattie Gladwell on Twitter, she is a reporter for Metro, a media news organisation in the UK. She regularly writes about mental health. And I cringed at her video crying about not being able to go to an event she’d been looking forward to.

The truth is, if you have enough willpower, you can train yourself out of pathetic little tantrums like not being able to get trains. You can train yourself to handle situations and feelings. You can rope them under control. Believe me; I’ve done it.

Sure, I get tired sometimes but I fucking make the effort. I will always go out of my way to go out into the world and challenge my anxiety.

The thing is, anxiety is something you can beat. I used to cry like Hattie when I was 17 or 18 years old. I’d tell her it does get better, but this victim-like stance mental health sufferers claim is getting tiresome now. There’d probably be some sort of backlash on me. You can’t choose how badly anxiety affects you! They are the same people who say that many would forget about mental health when the awareness week is over.

I know you can’t. My panic attacks and ‘death anxiety’ (waking up thinking that you’re dying) during the night affects me too. It’s just that I don’t sit around crying about it. I beat my anxiety, put one foot in front of the other; and just GO.

Watch Hattie’s Twitter video here https://twitter.com/hatttiegladwell/status/997151813597089793?s=12

Challenge yourself … I promise it’ll be worth it

Here in the UK it’s mental health awareness week. So never has it been a more appropriate time to say – I’m winning my battle. You can too. Let me tell you how.

I’ve suffered with anxiety since I was a child.

It’s manifested itself in so many different ways, with the major one being social anxiety and regular feelings of failure and doom.

But I never stopped challenging myself. At first it began with little challenges. I made myself go back to college to study my A levels. From there I found some solace within the protective walls of a university to study my bachelors degree.

At first I didn’t make any friends. But I eventually got talking to people on my course and I fell in with a group.

The next challenge was to find a part time job. Let me tell you how a few years previously, before I went to college, I went through the stages of not being able to function. I couldn’t answer the phone at home. I couldn’t walk outside without the fear that there were pairs of eyes on me from every direction. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. I felt so inadequate, so ugly. Especially in front of my relatives. I lacked confidence in myself.

But as I grew older, I continued to push myself. Oh, I suffered…My, how I suffered. But I persisted. Because I didn’t want to fall into that deep, dark pit of depression. There was always a cloud of doom following me around sure, but the dark pit was out of bounds. I didn’t want to feel what I felt previously down there. I stayed out of it. I just about managed to keep my head above water, because I forced my legs to continue to kick; no matter how slow.

After I got a part time job in retail things began to look up. In my interview I actually told the assistant manager that the job would give me confidence in myself. This was my first proper job. I told them the truth they gave me a chance. Don’t be afraid to let people help you. And I made all the right noises in terms of capability too. So I got the job. I remember the day I got that phone call. I couldn’t be happier.

What followed were years of a series of challenges from then on. One tiny challenge led to a cascade of bigger ones. And bigger ones. Until my anxiety was well and truly under control.

I finsihed university; I got another job which pushed at the boundaries of my anxiety. Every day was a struggle but I did it. Can you believe I ended up speaking to hundreds of people a week in my job in customer service? From zero to a hundred. Literally!

As my job progressed, so did my confidence. But though I was moving away from customer service and into digital relations in my job, I still had a sense of failure. I didn’t want to just be able to work, and make friends, and have a boyfriend, and a social life, all of which I had some of. It wasn’t great but hey – it existed.

I wanted to succeed. I didn’t want just a job, which by the way for someone with severe anxiety since childhood was a mighty achievement. I wanted a career.

And so, with a little financial help from the UK government, off I went to study a Masters degree at university. Guess what? I went all the way to the other side of the country. Yep. A northerner travelled south. My biggest challenge to myself yet.

It’s bloody fantastic. I have enjoyed every single minute.

In my next blog I’ll explain the amazing thing that happened next. But in the meantime challenge yourself. Even if it’s tiny. Go out of your comfort zone, even if it’s for ten minutes.

Take a leap of faith. I promise you… it will absolutely be worth it.

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Anxiety is my superpower

Anxiety makes me sad. It makes me angry, confused. It makes me feel pathetic and worthless.

I fight with those closest around me, even with the tiniest upset. The smallest argument. Insignificant things.

But my feelings of dismay and disarray return; when I stop to rest. If I don’t constantly push myself, I get tired. I start to feel down.

So anxiety is what keeps me going really. It’s my superpower. I can avoid people and situations expertly with it. I can sense other people’s emotions and attitudes towards me, so finely tuned; that I can even hear their thoughts, don’t ya know?

Anxiety is my superpower. I can delay my life, all of my successes and achievements with it. I can use the superhuman strength and ability it gives me to feel physically ill. My limbs ache, my head spins. Lights are far too bright. I’m unsteady on my feet, but all the better to fly, right?

I can’t live a normal life, to be brutally honest. But which superhero can?

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Failure is not an option when it comes to anxiety

I started off a few days ago talking about how my crippling anxiety never ceases to destroy my life; yet through the struggle there is always hope.

Although the dark clouds of fear and worthlessness and doubt are constantly with me, and none more so than Mr Anxiety himself; the old, frail man who in his stubbornness fails to leave my side, I am always trying.

And to me, trying is not failing.

I have been through some experiences, good and bad, and there isn’t a day when you don’t feel a bit lost and ashamed of who you are. But failure is not an option when it comes to anxiety. Because if you let it win, you cannot live. And when you stop living that is when true failure sets in.

Everytime you try something; though it may not end well, at least you have tried. That effort, that strength it takes to do something is huge success.

I promised I would impart some more information of how I trained myself out of anxiety in a previous blog.

The willpower it took to dress up, leave the house and hand in CV’s when looking for a job was difficult, but I took advantage of my presence at University to study at undergraduate level. The very fact that I had pushed myself to continue my A-levels, took me to a platform where I felt safe and involved: pretty much like school, except there were no teachers constantly trying to stifle your creativity.

Dont get me wrong, I spent the two years studying my A-levels mostly alone. I would finish class and then go to the library to study. It was there that I read Wuthering Heights for the first time. It gave me life’s simple pleasures, sat in the quiet of a library, surrounded by books full of words that made you dance inside.

In short, it is the little steps you take that are the difference between beating your anxiety and letting it win. And still to do this day I take every step purposefully. Because though we battle with these giants, we have a war to win. And I cannot let myself give up. Because I don’t want to go to that dark place where failure lives.

You are not a failure if you try. So whatever you were thinking of doing: Try. Do.

 

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In my next few few blogs I will explain the physical techniques I used to train myself out of anxiety, and the fear, and work through the sweat and blushing, and shaking, to face the world.