I had planned to write a post in aid of World Mental Health Day detailing my battle with anxiety. I keep going back to the words I have written and they do not do the post justice. I seem unable to allow myself to go back to those days so dark it still makes me shudder, who would have guessed that a memory or thought can have that much power over us but anxiety is like an unspoken word when you are recovering, you are afraid to murmur it for fear it may be listening and decide to pay you an unexpected and unwelcome visit.
Sometimes we have to be so far along the journey with the finish line in sight to enable us to recall how we managed to get there, to remember the road though arduous, did not break our resolve. I am not there yet with my anxiety, it is still raw, deep and very real. The last few months have brought amazing things to my life, these amazing things are not vast on the scale of the everyday person, I have not run a marathon or climbed Everest, they are the ability to do simple things, simple things in my darkest days I feared I would never be able to do again. The feeling of a day passing without it being dominated by my anxiety, a stroll outside that is not taken up with fending off panic attacks, going to the cinema and actually watching the film instead of shuffling back and forth wondering when the misery would end, sleeping, the list is endless and I could go on but the point is I am living for the first time in years. I am living not my anxiety, I have managed to claw myself above my anxiety, it remains like a long lost love, gone for now but certainly not forgotten.
My anxiety in its heyday was about as bad as it possibly could have been, it was a battle that I fought every second of every day, I was its prisoner and there was no leniency, there was no let-up, no escape. At one stage I could barely leave the house, it was debilitating in a way that many would not understand unless they have been there. Anxiety encompassed everything I was and tried to take away who I wanted to be. It tried to ruin my life, It tried to persuade me to give up, to let it win but somehow I managed to keep picking myself up from the floor and finding new things to throw at it, those things eventually paid off. Once I lifted my barriers that it had given me and I was finally able to admit what my life had become and the suffering I had endured, it started to become less powerful, it was weakened and no longer the force it had been previously.
It is still early days for me, I realise I am only ever a panic attack away from a relapse but for now life is good, bad things that happen do not seem as bad, I can deal with life without fighting anxiety as well. Life is a struggle enough, add anxiety to the mix and it can be enough to tip anyone over the edge. I lived my life on the edge for many years, teetering towards the darkness, luckily I had bright lights in my life who fought constantly to pull me back. I am eternally grateful for the bright lights in my life that helped to save me from myself when my anxiety crippled me.
I want to share my story but I realise I am not ready for that, it is not my time. I hope this post gives some hope that there is salvation, you are not destined to feel this way forever. There is help out there, you may have to find the courage to ask for it but it is there. You can feel the same way you did before and be the person again that you were, the person that was cruelly snatched by anxiety, that person is still somewhere deep inside. It may take time but don’t give up on yourself, keep fighting, keep finding different techniques and therapies. Do not rule anything out, even medication, some of us need a helping hand and nothing needs to be forever. There is life after anxiety I am the living proof and it is beautiful…