I’m pretty sure anxiety was wrapped around me from quite a young age, around 12, but I never thought it was anything abnormal. I thought it was just life, that everyone felt ‘on edge’ a lot of the time.
I got used to feeling uncomfortable, not in the way that makes you learn to accept who you are, but in the way that stops you from living your life more fully.
‘Such a weird thing to stop opening yourself to the world and not even realise it.’
Looking back, I remember being worried to go outside alone when it was daytime because people could see me more— a clear sign of anxiety but I decided to pay it no attention.
Also, how could I have anxiety when I never had panic attacks?
As I got older, the problems started to become more apparent. Sometimes, going to a small shop filled me with dread and I often asked for a friend to come with me or I felt like I needed to be on the phone to someone.
But, the moment when my friend told me they didn’t want to go was one of a kind, one of absolute terror. Yet telling them that I was ‘scared to go to the shop on my own’ seemed even more terrifying. So I’d sit it out, or push through, psych myself up for half an hour and go.
The sense of achievement I got whenever I did something my anxiety said I couldn’t kept me going. I’d tell myself ‘someone without this problem, wouldn’t feel this sense of great pride after only going to the shop on their own.’
True. But I couldn’t shake the creeping thoughts that I wished it would just go away.
That heavy weight, pushing you back, reminding you of the danger you would likely encounter was always a force to be reckoned with.
Along with this constant battle, my anxiety had also caused me to be depressed, which is a common relation. Even if I hadn’t acknowledged it, my mind had, and to say the least, it’s pretty depressing living in constant fear of nothing and letting it control you.
I found — eventually — that it becomes a problem when you let it control you.
To not let it control me, I do the things that trigger that bubbling to rise up and cause the panic to set in. Despite that being so scary and hard to do sometimes, it really is the greatest sense of achievement, no matter how small it seems.
It’s about growth, no matter how slow it seems.
Something I think is so important in order to understand your body and mind and possibly tackle anxiety, among a plethora of other mental health issues early, is to try and be aware of your emotions.
Tune in with yourself and always be gentle.
Written by Antonia Bell
Edited by Imogen Tew
Designed by Rebekah Jade