I suffer from anxiety and stress. Somebody said to me very recently… “You don’t act like you have anxiety”….OK…Bye Felicia
I mean don’t we all suffer from anxiety? I don’t think I know anyone that doesn’t suffer from some form of anxiety, even if they don’t know it. As with many people my anxiety is also connected to other stuff I have going on. Other phobias and such. But anxiety is the best way to give you an overview of what I mean.
I hide it well. You would have to be close to me, as in know me, to know when I’m suffering. I hide it well because I have been living with it all my life and if I acted out every impulse or every emotion I have going on in me I would never leave the house. My anxiety makes me flaky. I cancel plans. I leave early. I don’t turn up at all….and don’t you dare actually call my phone!
Today I was supposed to go to London. I should be there now. Instead I am on my sofa in my PJS with a blanket feeling sad.
When this weekend was planned…. when I helped plan it, I was so excited. Proper fire in the belly excited. It was a Saturday morning, on the phone too one of my best friends and I was feeling good. This weekend was going to bring lots of likeminded people together and we would eat and laugh. It had to booked well in advance for me due to childcare and a million other commitments. But we found space and it was decided.
Even though it was not blatant, the anxiety would have started from the minute I put the phone down. I wouldn’t see it as anxiety immediately, I never do. Just more rushing thoughts…some justified some not.
And these thoughts, as with every single activity or event I agree too, start rushing around my head. If I tried to list my anxious thoughts, 1: we would be here all day, and 2: some people may think I am a bit crazy.
But let’s use this weekend as an example. There are lots of reasons why I want to go. I love who I was going to see. But one biiiiiig problem in addition to all the usual problems that haunt me.
I don’t like going to London. That’s an understatement. I HATE going to London. I don’t think its fun or exciting. I don’t get there and get caught up in the hustle and bustle. I hate it. There are so many triggers for me in London its madness. There are certain train stations that bring back memories. I remember walking with my daughter (One of the rare times I have ever taken her to London) and we were walking through Waterloo East station and I was holding her hand and having a flash back of the times I had walked that same pathway , maybe 4 years older than the little girls hand I was now holding, and the things I was experiencing. The feelings I would have had right there on that spot years ago. There is this one but, when you come out of the covered area…down the long stairs and there is a Dixy fried Chicken……No…. No thank you. As I came down the stairs, I glanced over my shoulder at it, still holding my daughters’ hand, and it was like glimpsing back to a time I had forgot. And I didn’t like it.
There are certain roads, estates and areas that make me feel awful. I feel overwhelmed and …OK…fine….Make me feel scared. There are some places that are the worse. Wandsworth near the Andale Centre (Is that even there still?) …Clapham Junction Station… Victoria…Elephant and Castle…. parts of Brixton…Peckham and the ultimate no no…. Camberwell.
I used to be in love with all these places in one way or another… I grew up on their streets. I could tell you about some of the greatest times of my life in all of these places….The underground Bashments nights in Elephant and Castle (Yer that one near the estate under the restaurant)…..Theater nightclub in Wandsworth….Going to Clapham Junction to get new trainers…I can close my eyes now and I am there.
But in each of these places is a trauma of some kind. Each one is tarnished and ruined by something. And I am sure that I could walk into many of these places and be fine. BUT…I could also see, hear or feel something that could rock me. And that scares me. It happened once, I was going through London on the train, I was OK, I was holding my shit together. I looked up at the wrong time, just as we went past Battersea power station and within minutes, I felt ill. Like…”please get me off this train” ill.
The place I was going today was in one of these places, but I felt like I could handle that.
Another of my anxieties is around transport, to be more precise, not being fully aware of where I am going. I like trains. Trains are good. Big old stations that You know where to get on and off. Buses however, they can be slippery. Sometimes they don’t stop at all the stops. Sometime its confusing what to get where.
This trip this weekend would have required me to get a train to central London…then get another train to another part of London and then walk 10 mins down the road and get a bus. I just took a deep breath. The thought of it makes me feel exhausted. Because the whole trip would have been torture for me. I would have been on the brink of a panic attack the whole time. Then….as if I needed any additional stress…when I went to buy my ticket yesterday the man serving me pointed to a sign that said a load of trains wont be running Sunday, the day I would return, due to maintenance. I should have said I wasn’t going then. But I didn’t. Because I wanted to go. So, I stood at the kiosk for 25 mins whilst the nice man organised my tickets (I had to tell him places I needed to avoid on route and absolutely no tubes!!!!). So…this sudden change in my journey meant that I would need to be at St pancreas for exactly 9 am on Sunday. When I checked the route later that day, I found out that would mean a 35-minute bus journey through central London. Passing 2 of my not good places. I would have had to get up at 7 on Sunday. I should have backed out then. But I didn’t.
My anxiety is worse when I’m tired. This week alone has been a killer. It has been emotionally draining on many levels. Being a single parent is exhausting anyway, but when that child has needs then I personally think it’s a different type of exhaustion. Running your own business and all that goes with that. … I need to start my dissertation…Running the house …people wanting/needing your time……the cats…arrgghhhhhhhhhh
Don’t forget the nightmares……I am tired…. because I don’t get a full night’s sleep because of the nightmares…
The week has been hard work. I should have said I wasn’t going. But I didn’t……because I wanted to go. Today was bad. Where to start….I can only try and list some stuff….up at 6, in work by 6:30, catch up on a million things, 45 minutes with a child who was told yesterday that they will now be in permanent care and will not return home…..they are angry at the world but for that 45 minutes I am the center of that anger…They tell me over and over that it’s my fault. They cried…. a lot. It was heart breaking. I stepped away from that child and straight into a 3 hour meeting where I’m told things that both upset me and made me angry personally , more work, another meeting that emotionally drains me with no time to process the broken child I had dealt with that morning…just their face keep popping up in my mind…….Did I eat my lunch? I had half a can of coke to drink all day……I felt sick (is that the anxiety of going or am I actually dying this time …that is a daily thought …just a heads up) Then my favourite anxiety of all….the best one….What if I get sick or unwell on the way. What if I have a panic attack on the train. Worse…what of I have a panic attack in my friend’s house!!!! These thoughts become worse when I don’t eat or drink enough or if others around me don’t feel well. Both of which happened today. I was still going at 3pm. Even after all that. And then I walked into a scene that I was not prepared for. I had to watch a young person and my friend and colleague deal with something so emotional and so real…it was like a wet slap in the face. And within 20 minutes I was drained. Not from that incident. All the above hit me hard. And my anxiety went boom…. hello…here I am.
And the first thought that always hits when this happens is “Am I going Mad?”
And for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t hide it…. I mean…I recon I could have from most people, but some of the people that I am close to…. they saw it. Her. The wide eye little girl that hides inside me constantly wanting to go home and be safe. The little girl who does not want to keep pushing herself and trying. The little girl who doesn’t like the big bad world and needs to go home and just be left alone. They saw her. Or at least one person did.
So, I had to cancel. Because otherwise …I don’t even know. All I know is that I needed to come home and put my Pjs on, lock my door and not do anything.
And cancelling makes me feel awful. Because I know I would like it. I know that I have let people down. It’s just another time I have had to give in to my anxiety, and that makes me angry.
Living with anxiety and stress (and a load of other stuff) is draining. It makes me feel like I am running on empty a lot of the time. Its effects how I eat, sleep and communicate. It makes me dislike myself and others. It makes me so tired.
And sometime the only way I can deal with it is to stay home for a few days. Just on my one’s or with the kids. Of course, I have that negative voice reminding me the whole time what a melt I am for giving in…so I can’t truly relax. But I just need to be in a safe space.
There are many disabilities that can’t be seen. Yet, they can be like a chin around your arms and legs making it so you can’t do what you need to do. Some hide it well.
For the record I have never been ill whilst traveling. Never had a panic attack that has killed me I was told once my someone who had the worst anxiety I have ever seen in my life “If you think you’re going mad….you can’t be…because if you was going mad you wouldn’t know about it”
I have anxiety. It means that sometimes I am a flaky friend. It means that sometimes I cover my anxiety with anger or loudness. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you or don’t want to be around you. It doesn’t mean that I can’t be bothered. And it doesn’t mean that next week I can’t get on a plane to Poland. Anxiety is a bit muggy like that.
But today I can’t. And that’s OK… (Or is it?)
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Thankyou. It is generous of you to write this piece on anxiety. I have one tiny suggestion. It won’t reach the core but it might just help a tiny bit with the bus issue. Knowing where you are and when to get off is tricky and unsettling. I use google Maps and watch that little blue dot travelling along. Nobody pays me any attention and I know where I all the time. It would be so much easier to retreat from the world but we don’t, we battle on. Go us!
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Isn’t it great when someone says “You don’t look like you have “insert mental illness”. I blame movies on that attitude.