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. Although, this felt normal for me. I don’t believe any alarm bells ever rang, I was just quiet and shy and that was how I had always been. I was quiet little Heidi.
Growing with Anxiety
As a teenager, my shyness and anxiety became very intertwined. I only had 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. On the outside, no one would ever know. I hid it well, I smiled, laughed, disclosing my fears to no one. The more I worried though, the more I would worry about things. Accidents, death, danger, fear were always on my mind.
I struggled greatly on the inside, while hiding my insecurities well (to some extent) on the outside. However, 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. At college I started failing exams, an administration mix up meant I missed my main exam, but I did nothing to rectify it due to anxiety. 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. All my hopes and dreams slowly disappearing.
Moving Forward and Recovering
I don’t know when I changed but at some point I told myself enough was enough. I was fed up with anxiety defining me, contolling me. So I began to push myself and go out more. I was never the life and soul of the party and my social issues remained. I struggled to talk to people, but I made friends, not deep friendships but enough to go out and have fun. Although, I still constantly dreaded anything social, I forced myself to continue on. Sometimes it worked out fine, sometimes I wish the world would swallow me whole. This is how I continued for many years, wishing I didn’t struggle, but I was now controlling my anxiety, it was no longer controlling me.
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 once again I began 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 started attending groups on my own, separating myself from friends. I felt Lonely, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t make friends. Anyway, everybody already seemed to have their friends, clicks. Then I began to dread going, so I stopped. I stopped meeting my mummy friends 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 really stressful period 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, I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety and offered CBT. I haven’t got round to booking in yet. They held 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 really need to get this sorted, but I am not sure I am ready just yet, my confidence is at an all time low.
So for now, anxiety is a big part of my life again. I am determined to beat it, not let anxiety win. I sometimes I wonder If I’m strong enough. All I know is I don’t want to look back at my life with regrets and to feel Anxiety defined who I always was. Its extremely hard and very tough, but its a battle I
want need to win.