It is ridiculous. When I say it out loud it sounds even more ridiculous. I berate myself so often with what are you worried about weirdo, there is nothing to be anxious about just pull yourself together. And yet there I am, cemented to the spot, trembling, short of breath like someone’s choking me. In all honest something is choking me and it’s called anxiety.
I am learning that more people secretly suffer in silence with this mental health issue than I ever thought possible. People who look like they have their sh*t together and yet crumble at the strangest of things. I say strange because that’s how I perceive my own anxiety triggers, they make me feel like a weirdo in a world of normal. They exclude me, segregate me and have me hiding them away with shame.
The fact is there are many of us with these odd triggers, many rooted in childhood, learned behaviour, traumatic experiences. And yet extremely real in every blood chilling way. They are irrational and perfectly rational at the same time. For the sufferer they are exhausting, life limiting and at times depressing. At least mine are anyway.
Recently there was an opportunity to be a case study for a friend who is undertaking a degree in Positive Psychology Coaching. When she asked me why I wanted to participate, at our first meeting, I responded ‘because it’s time and I’m ready.’ I didn’t realise how ready I was to deal with the hindrances of anxiety that have acted like shackles around my ankles for as long as I can remember. Constantly limiting me, slowing me down and in some cases stopping me from living a full life.
As the sessions have gone on I’ve shared things with my Coach that I haven’t shared really with anyone other than Phil. Things that have turned out to be the root causes of some of my most sever anxieties, especially the ones where my kids are concerned. I know there isn’t a magic wand that will take all these anxieties away overnight but I do feel that in the past few weeks I have made a start, albeit very small but a start nonetheless. I have pushed myself outside my comfort zone a few times, and am starting to find the words to put to this well-hidden side of my life.
Some of my anxieties relate to me, whilst some are specific to my children’s wellbeing. Although I do think that these particular anxieties have become a lot more severe over the last few years. The stress of miscarriages, the difficulty trying to conceive, their births, post-natal depression, the ordeal of Umbrella Pathways diagnosis, and so much more trauma surrounding just having them has left me like a quivering bag of jelly most days. I fear for them uncontrollably, have nightmares about them being taken or dying. It is relentless and harrowing most days, and it is all I can do to get them to school some days.
As for the anxieties that relate to me being able to function as a ‘normal’ person in day to day life, they are numerous, ridiculous and leave me feeling incredibly isolated. These anxieties have stopped me from going off to explore the country we live in, prevented me from stepping out and trying new things, from meeting new people and from pushing myself to reach for new opportunities. I have missed out on so much because whilst I would love to do all of these things, when the rubber hits the road I just can’t.
But I want to. And that want is starting to overtake the worry of doing it. It will take heaps of time, I know that. Everything will take baby steps and there will be good days and bad days, and I am ok with that too. But I also don’t want to live like this anymore. I want to be brave in real life not just online where it’s nicely censored reality. I want to drive to nowhere and get lost for the fun of it. I want to walk in to a room full of people and feel confident enough to not only talk to them all but encourage and uplift them! I want to look in the mirror and only hear the doting compliments of my husband and children. I want to sit in a coffee shop and watch the world go by without fearing looking like a weirdo sat on their own.
Above all else, I want to live a life that takes up space and be ok with it.
For now I’ll settle with the small victories, the little wins, the baby steps, because I’m ready to, it’s time.