Going to try and take a more vulnerable approach to this one, which I am not used to doing as I mask many things with my #bantz. Like I just did there. In this post I am going to open up about my battle with anxiety and finish it with some tips for dealing with anxiety.
My battle with anxiety started from a really young age (I call it a battle because most of the time that is what it feels like, a constant battle in my head with myself). I was always an anxious child, could not be left alone, thought crisps were going to kill me and thought every family member was going to suddenly die while I was at school. (It is also ok to have a little chuckle at those anxieties, I do now when I look back).
These got a little better in my teenage years, I was still anxious but it was linked more to social anxiety and just general teenage worries. I was very shy and had to really work myself up to be around people. When I went to college I completely blossomed and I will forever be grateful for my friends there, that helped bring me out of my shell and help me become who I am today.
University was a fresh start for me and in the first term it really was incredible, could not have asked for more – well I could have done with a bit more money as I spent my money on 2 pound wine and nights out and then lived off pasta and cheese strings but yano commitment to le sesh is key at uni.
It was when I got into my first ever relationship that my anxiety took a turn for the worst. I have always struggled with ‘self-love’ I never fully accepted myself (image wise) so getting into a relationship was a big deal for me, to be fully exposed to a person, emotionally and physically was really hard work and took it out of me. Not only this the person I was with had many toxic traits and was very emotionally manipulative. It sent my anxiety wild, I gained tonnes of weight, lost a lot of my hair, and was just generally down. Everything constantly felt too much, the smallest thing felt like the biggest deal. It effected all areas of my life, luckily I had amazing people around me who supported me always and were always there to help. But being at uni when in a bad way with anxiety was hard, the hangovers made me so down and it was on those days that I just simply did not know what to do with myself, I felt trapped, scared and angry at everything.
I could carry on down the timeline of my anxiety but I feel like I could be here forever writing a very long, very emotional blog post.
Anxiety is a part of my life that takes over at times and then sits on the sidelines at others. When it takes over it feels like a blanket is smothering everything I do; I feel on edge always, overthink everything, struggle to communicate with people, want to be alone constantly and so much more. Everything feels like it takes every piece of energy and along with that you are convinced by all the negative thoughts in your mind. When my anxiety becomes high functioning in stressful times, my OCD then starts to tag team in with it, wanting to be part of the party. Meaning not only is my anxiety there fighting against me, my OCD is in the background telling me if I don’t brush my teeth in a certain way while doing 3 spins, something terrible will happen that day. It is EXHAUSTING, but over the years I have to learn to cope with that rather then trying to distract myself from it, because being real, there is no real distraction, you have to just face it head on.
There are days when I admittedly lie in my bed for so many hours wanting to get out and be productive but just not being able to face it, then feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. I don’t get that as much now, but those days do still happen and that is ok.
I wanted to do a post on this because it is something I deal with daily, I am a loud, confident, happy person on the outside and have built myself a lot since I was that scared timid child/teenager, I am proud of who I am becoming. However, although that is me on the outside I still struggle on the inside. People never truly know the struggle people face inside. For example: I am very sociable but every single social event I go to I will have a really bad stomach the day before and I will barely sleep because I am so nervous of what people will think of me (even though I am with my besties normally). Equally, I love the gym but will sit in my car for like 15 minutes some days before I go in because I have had to hype myself up so much as I am so nervous of people seeing me working out. Even going for a food shop, some days I will see there is not a self checkout open, will leave my shopping and walk out because I cannot face being face to face with someone.
It really is exhausting, you feel it all over your body. Some days your anxiety will give you crazy energy where you just have to do some crazy moves around the house to try and burn it off, but other days it will have you stuck in the same spot for hours, because the enclosing feeling of dread is encapsulating not only your body but your mind.
You will have a million things to do then your anxiety knocks on the door like ‘hey, I know you are super busy right now but I wanted to remind you of a really bad event that happened 11 years ago’ and that is that, you are biting your nails, stressing out and then before you know it you are irritable, unfocused and tired. It can feel like you are self sabotaging yourself for literally no reason.
My main anxiety trigger is body image. I have a lot of trigger words/events that happen that really set me off. The start of the day is the hardest for me because picking an outfit for the day is so tricky as when I am anxious, my belly bloats, I see a completely different person in the mirror and I want to not be seen by anyone, it just can start my day off on the complete wrong foot. My other trigger is a long to do list, my mind can never cope well in busy times in my life.
This is why I am a big advocate for being kind and understanding toward everyone, everyone has their own triggers, you really do never know what people are going through.
I am so proud of the progress I have made through the years, I still struggle but nowhere near as much as I used to. I have challenged myself constantly and fought down massive barriers to live the amazing life I live now. I have never felt more proud of the journey I have been on then when I look back on how I have climbed my way out of some pretty dark holes and came out stronger, braver and more confident and ready to take on the next challenge.
I want to end of a more positive note after all that heavy shit! I want to end on some ways to help anxiety, these are things that I have tried and tested and have really helped/help me:
1. GYM – even though it is such hard work to get there some days, working out clears my mind, resets it and transforms my emotions so much
2. Meditation – this calms me down when I am feeling particularly nervy
3. Self-affirmations – this is mega hard when you are feeling anxious but I feel it can be so beneficial to ignore those negative thoughts and say something nice to yourself
4. Journal it – I have my journal where I write all my thoughts and feelings down (all be it is the MOST dramatic journal ever but hey I am an actress at heart, what do you expect?!)
5. Tidy your room – The quotes are true messy space, messy mind. When my anxiety is bad you can tell because my room is carnage, stuff EVERYWHERE, when I tidy it I instantly feel better
6. Self-care – Have a bath, use a face mask, wash your hair, paint ya nails, small things but help me feel good
7. Do something you enjoy – anything! I dance and act and that makes me feel instantly uplifted and happy.
FINALLY, be patient with yourself, don’t be angry or resentful at yourself for feeling this way. You are human. Mental health is never anything to be ashamed of, learn how to deal with your mental health in a way that works best for you. Know you deserve the best and fight a strong fight against those negative thoughts. Always talk to someone when you feel down, sharing a problem or worry can be such a relief sometimes. Be kind always and if anyone ever needs anyone to talk to then please do message me on Twitter @20_somethingyearold or at Instagram @20_somethingyearold1 . (That is not promo, that is genuine.)
Long one this time but I felt it was time to open up a bit, show you a different side to my writing and to me.
Thanks! L x