You could say, I am a master of disguise at times. I am good at masking things. Because I keep busy, I am doing a million things at once and I don’t like to bother people.
But things bubble to the surface sometimes don’t they. And when you’re someone who suffers with anxiety, your old foe can turn up and torment you long before you divulge to anyone about your unwanted visitor. And that visitor has no fear, no boundaries, and will work hard to convince you of things that’s you’re not.
“You’re a burden”. “You’re annoying them”. “No one wants to hear this shit”. Just some of the things she’s been whispering to me of late. I refer to anxiety as a “she”. I don’t know why I do it other than the fact I feel like she is some bitch who rocks up, sets up squatters rights in my head, until I find the strength to tell her to do one. But finding that strength is hard when she is zapping it with her relentless negativity.
Having anxiety is one of the most isolating things you can have. You feel so lonely with it. You are your own worst enemy. You listen to these fears, these scenarios in your head and you start to believe them. In the past I’ve buried them until they’ve exploded in the form of panic attacks. And the other night I was on the verge of a panic attack; a minor small comment made to me, that meant no harm or danger, grew in my head. It’s like a mushroom; it multiplies, grows at an alarming rate and before I knew it I had convinced myself something bad was going to happen.
I sat my husband down and explained the reassurance I needed. It wasn’t normal reassurance because my worries were absurd. My husband was exasperated, unaware that this sort of thing had been going on in my head for weeks. In my head I was thinking “you’re annoying him, he doesn’t need this” and then out of nowhere, almost like word vomit, everything I was feeling came spilling out.
One of the ways anxiety has really got a hold of me lately is by convincing me I am a burden. That I’m annoying. That I am in the way. A couple of times I’ve considered talking to someone I am close to, to admit that I’m struggling. And every time I’m stopped by this part of my brain “you’re worthless, you’re bothering them again, don’t you know they’ve got more important things to deal with than you, just shut up”. And just like that, I am on my own again. Isolated in this world. You’re stuck in your own head with anxiety, concocting scenarios that aren’t there, attaching yourself to worries that don’t need to exist. This combined with some pretty crippling self confidence has made me a bit of a shell of myself lately.
The ironic thing is, even with all this self doubt, this panic, this constant worry that I’m an irritant to people, there is (thankfully) still a logical part of my brain trying to argue with the anxiety. I am a good Mum, a nice person, a decent wife, a loyal friend, a kind hearted girl. I am not a failure. The logical side of my head knows this but it isn’t strong enough or loud enough to silence the part of my head repeatedly tormenting me.
One thing I do know is I don’t want to tolerate this. I don’t want to give anxiety the power to keep convincing me I am a burden. I don’t want to feel so alone with it all. I dedicate every waking hour of my day to tending to everyone around me; that’s my job as a Mum. There is no time for myself and I thought that was the norm. But it’s not. Because if I’m not also looking after myself, how can I be a good Mum? The happy Mum that Josh and Holly know and love. Being a good Mum is the only thing I am not doubting myself on at the moment, even though I am exhausted, and I don’t want anything to damage that.
Someone pointed out to me that this week is mental health awareness week. A time when mental health is highlighted, spoken about. And I think that talking is one of the most important things. Talking to each other, talking about mental health. Talking to my husband the other night was a weight lifted; because I verbalised it all he could gain an understanding. He gave me a hug that I’ll never forget and will cherish forever because his hug just made me know he got it. I wasn’t on my own.
No one should feel alone when in the midst of anxiety, depression or any other mental illness. If we speak up, or if we encourage those we might be a bit worried about to talk, then we can help each other. We can educate each other. We can give that hug. Anxiety is often misunderstood, which I think is why it can feel so isolating. You doubt yourself and wonder if you’re just being daft or if you’re making a big deal out of nothing. You’re not. Because you ARE a big deal and you deserve to feel happy. Talking to people about how your feeling, finding comfort in the fact others may experience these feelings and getting reassurance that those around you love you no matter what, those things are priceless and they get you through the tough days.
Support each other, every day.