Anxiety is something that has been with me for as long as I can remember. Even as a small child I would worry about anything and everything. My main anxieties came from social interactions, I was painfully shy to the point of sometimes being mute. However for me this was normal and I don’t believe any alarm bells ever rang, with me or anyone. It wasn’t like it suddenly happened, it just was, as it always had been. I was quiet little Heidi, and anxiety was just part of me.
Growing with Anxiety
As a teenager, my shyness and anxiety became very intertwined. I had only a few friends and I found it near impossible to make new ones. My fear of social situations and interaction had a huge impact on my everyday life. I began to withdraw, and declined any invitation that may lead me to any kind of unplanned interaction with people. However on the outside, no one would ever know. I hid it well, smiled, laughed, disclosing my fears to no one. The more I worried though, the more I would worry about. Accidents,death, danger were always on my mind.
I struggled immensely with the torment inside, school and college suffered, I feared asking for help when I needed to, mainly because I didn’t know how to ask and it meant having to talk to people (it wasn’t until many years later I would learn I was Dyslexic). At college I started failing exams, an administration mix up meant I missed my main exam, but I did nothing. University was my dream, but a combination of poor results and not being able to ask for UCAS advice meant I never got my application in. I ended up taking on my part time job, full time.
Moving Forward and Recovering
I don’t know when I changed but at some point I told myself enough was enough. So I began to push myself, go out more (alcohol helped, in a good way!). My social issues remained,I struggled to talk to people, I made friends, not deep friendships but enough to go out and have fun. Although I constantly dreaded anything social, but I forced myself. Sometimes it worked out fine, sometimes I wish the world would swallow me whole. This is how I continued form any years, wishing I didn’t struggle, but getting by just fine.
I think it was when I had Finlay that my old anxieties began to return. At first, I don’t think I noticed. I put a lot of things down to being a stressed out first time mum. I had a pretty traumatic first few weeks after Finlay’s birth. Maybe this is what triggered it, being rushed to hospital? Maybe it was caring for such an innocent little human and realising there’s a lot of bad stuff out there and wanting to shield him from that? Slowly, slowly I began once again to withdraw.
I found trying to fit in with mummy friends and mummy groups tiring and no matter how hard I tried, I just never seemed to fit. I would often go to groups on my own, hoping I would meet someone, but I never did. Then I began to dread going and then I stopped going. I stopped meeting mummy friend and today I have probably isolated myself to the point they don’t even remember who I am now. All because of stupid anxiety!
Earlier this year, I had a traumatic time at work (you can read about that here if you wish) and my anxiety became too much. New symptoms began to develop. Chest pains, insomnia and just a general lack of wanting to go out at all, worrying about the slightest thing that could happen. I took a step I had never taken before and went to the Doctor. The Doctor and I talked and I was diagnosed with generalist anxiety and offered CBT. I haven’t got round to booking in yet, as typically they had the wrong contact details. They wrote to me to ask me to call for an appointment and calling people is something I really struggle with because I don’t know what to expect from the conversation. I will but in my own time.
So for now, anxiety is a big part of my life again. I am determined to beat it, not to let anxiety win, but sometimes I wonder If I’m strong enough, I guess only time will tell!