A week ago I conquered my anxiety around going to London. This may seem a little ridiculous to some people, but since my ectopic pregnancy the fear has been indescribable, completely all encompassing and overwhelmingly irrational. I can’t pinpoint my actual “fear” as such, other than that of dying, and there’s not one specific thing seems to trigger the actual attacks – although crowded places and loud sudden noises that shock me seem to do the trick nicely. It has also certainly been made worse by the terror attacks that have shaken Britain (and the world) over the past few years. This is something I have been working hard to address with my counsellor, and the end product was the most magical day in London that I would happily relive over and over again.
Over the last few years I have missed out on amazing opportunities because of my anxious mind, I’ve missed making memories because of it, and worse – I’ve lost friendships because of it. I realised that despite where my head was at, I was pretty good at hiding it (and myself) which meant that some people were unaware what was going on and they were unable to see the hell my brain was taking me through and put it down to me not caring or not bothering or having “changed”. And I had changed, but not for any other reason than my mind, body and soul were invaded by the most disturbing and irrational thoughts. It felt like I was being eaten alive by fear.
I have always suffered in some way with an anxious mind. Ever since I can remember I have suffered with severe night terrors, which would have me physically paralysed with fear, and in some cases would stop me from breathing in my sleep. I now know that this can be linked to a hormonal imbalance as a result of my PCOS. However, in my conscious mind I have always been determined not to become an anxious mess. I grew up with a Mother who had suffered with anxiety throughout my childhood, and I had seen the torment and distress it had put her through, and so I wasn’t prepared to let it get the best of me too. But it did, and that is what bothered me the most. It was as if I had failed by letting the dark thoughts take over me. What I didn’t anticipate was that feeling of failure was making it 100 times worse.
My counsellor has taught me many things in my time seeing her, the main one being that I need to be kinder to myself, and I have been doing just that. I have not pushed myself too hard – because when it comes to mental health I have learnt that your own towering expectations can be the undoing of all your hard work. I have also made sure I don’t punish myself for feeling a certain way – which has given my mind the opportunity to heal. I have taken each step as it comes. If I feel like I can’t do something because my mind just isn’t up to the task, then I won’t do it. I have stopped feeling guilty because of it – because the only person that punishes is myself, and I don’t deserve to be punished for the fact that my mind was needing “five minutes”.
So last Tuesday myself and my husband made a trip to the big smoke. I had bought two tickets to see my favourite musician and decided I would give London a go. If I didn’t make it, it wouldn’t matter – but the fact I was trying was a big achievement in itself and I was already proud of myself. Which was a great start to my adventure.
My anxiety was still there, but instead of it controlling me, I controlled it. It still felt as though my mind was doing backflips the whole time, but I kept focussed on the next item on our agenda – and my, what a busy agenda that was. We ate at a beautiful restaurant called Coya in Mayfair, enjoyed an autumnal walk in Green Park, we drank (lots of) gin and then we spent the evening dancing listening to my favourite musician, Alex Clare, who’s music has seen me through some of my darkest days. Wednesday morning we woke early ready to make a start on the second day’s agenda which was looking pretty full. Although, my head hurt (gin) and so did my feet (dancing) so I was going to have to take a slightly slower pace. We had a delicious breakfast at The Breakfast Club, followed by a wander around Soho, Leicester Square and China Town. We saw Chicago at the theatre in the West End and drank some more gin. It was perfect.
So, Anxiety – you had me in your grasp for a while, but I am in a new chapter now. A chapter filled with excitement, opportunities, memories and love. Surrounded by those that were able to see pass the BS and see that I was still there, still me, still fighting for the life and the person we all once knew. I am no longer the shell of the person I once was – I am coming alive again.