Firstly, how are your Summers going? School is coming back around SO quickly. It feels like I’ve blinked and the Summer is just GONE! 😞 But we still have all the memories of the Great British Sun.. right? (By this, I mean the non-existent or completely not ‘sunny’ British Sun we experience!).
Anyway, back to todays blog topic. This is a very difficult one to write for me, and I’m still not 100% I’ll go ahead with posting it, but here goes… I’m writing this because if one other person with anxiety reads this, and knows that what they’re experiencing is the same and they’re not the only one, or if one person recognises anxiety as more than just some throwaway comment, it’s worth it.
So… I suffer from anxiety. I have since I can remember. When I was a teenager, I found it difficult to make friends because I was so shy and nervous. Don’t get me wrong, I did make some amazing friends during my teenage years, and can recall some amazing times. But it wasn’t easy to get there. I would cancel going out because I was too nervous I’d say (or do) the wrong thing. And I would avoid going outside if I could on bad days, because I just couldn’t deal with other people – imagining what they might think if they saw me. Too fat? Wears too much dark clothing? Hair isn’t pretty enough? Face isn’t pretty enough? The list is endless…
This was made a lot worse when I was 15. My ‘dad’ had left the country when I was 6/7, but when I was 15, he cut off all contact. I was very close to my ‘dad’, and when this happened, the panic attacks began. I completely withdrew. When I was around people I would be able to keep it just under check, but whenever I was alone, it was as though as the emotions just came to the surface. And one thought kept reverberating in my head “If a parent can’t love me, how could anyone else?” and “Am I broken?”. Sometimes, I still get those thoughts. But then Jamie is there to reassure me that I am lovable, and what happened is not my fault. I think that’s the main thing to remember, if you suffer from anxiety, that the things that happen, are not your fault. You can’t change anything that happens, and you can’t always prevent things.
This actually got better after an assault incident (I won’t get into this now) made me re-evaluate a lot, and I began my fitness journey when I was 16. Until, at 17, a cycling accident occured and I was unable to continue with my fitness whilst receiving treatment, and have struggled since after obtaining another injury through a hiking accident.
Now, with university work, an ankle condition and difficult placements requiring me to work between 6-7 days a week alongside unrealistic targets (never enter the world of marketing. I am just so happy to be out of it!), my anxiety has gotten to the stage where it actually presents itself in physical symptoms, if left unchecked.
I found this out when I was at my last internship. I was looking at a computer screen and my vision just went blurry. I couldn’t read anything on the screen and it didn’t go away. My head felt confused, I couldn’t remember things or even recall basic facts about myself. I felt dizzy, and disorientated and it was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. So, I went outside, made a doctors appointment and Jamie came to pick me up from work. (Side note, the doctors asked me my address. Cue a couple of minutes and I still couldn’t make the thoughts form!).
Now, this is the scariest thing to experience. Where you actually believe your body is failing you somehow and it turns out to be all related to your anxiety – which you had thought was getting better! Now, I refuse to take medication for this. I rarely have good experiences with medication. But I am looking to start counselling, to fully treat my anxiety, and hopefully just start to feel better about myself. And to do some things that my anxiety will not allow me to do.
Things my anxiety will not let me do:
- Post a full-body photo of myself online. I have posted one, in a changing room where it’s all about angles in a tight space and you can’t see my face. I don’t really count this as letting someone take a full-body photo of myself in my favourite outfits to share it. Which I really want to do!
- Go outside. Right now, I’m sat here writing this, instead of going to campus to print something for Jamie. I will do this, I’m just trying to get over the initial ‘I can’t do this’ feeling.
- ‘Go with the flow’. I plan things, to a T. The worst case scenario can’t happen if you plan everything that could go wrong. Sometimes I will pretend to ‘go with the flow’, and then pre-plan everything in my head…
- Post this… maybe. I’m still not 100% I will actually post this. On the one hand, it would be amazing if it helped someone to understand anxiety just that little bit more, or to help someone who has it to know they’re not alone in it. But, at the same time, this is extremely personal and talking about this is difficult for me to do.
- Make videos. I’ve actually filmed about 2 videos for you all, and planned a third. But I cannot bring myself to post them. Either the lighting is bad, or I look too ‘fat’ (yes, anxiety makes these fears worse too!), or I just feel as though I won’t be ‘likeable’ enough within these videos. I mean, when I write, or post pictures on my Instagram, I am literally just being myself. But it’s easier to be yourself in writing and photos without getting too anxious, than it is a video. (I’m working on this.)
- Trust. It is so difficult. Almost everyday I get those feelings that my friends don’t really like me, or Jamie will wake up one day and realise that I’m not the right person, or that even my family might not really like me. These are all unfounded fears, which I remind myself of, or speak to Jamie about and he reminds me of. But it doesn’t stop me thinking them.
Now, this list is endless. So I’m not going to continue, but those are just a few of the things that happen to me because of my anxiety, a few of the things that my anxiety will not let me do. Now, best case scenario with this blog is that I find some other people suffering from anxiety, and we can help each other with the journey. And the worst case, is that everyone unsubscribes from my blog (trying not to think of this!). So, in a brutally honest post, on an already brutal Tuesday morning, I just want to give a shoutout to every person suffering from anxiety, or any other mental illness.
You are not alone. You are not broken, and you are amazing. The fact that you live with this, means that you are such a strong and beautiful person already.
Now, I need to try and get dressed to leave this flat. Wish me luck!
– Megan Grace, xo
*Note. I decided to post this, after listening to some of Keshas new songs. True strength inspiration.