I wanted to share with you what it’s like having both anxiety and depression. An outgoing personality but anxious mind. Of course, this is just what it’s like for me. It’s my personal account of my thoughts and feelings. Not everyone experiences these issues the same. What affects one person may not be a problem for someone else. It’s not a one size fits all. Everyone suffers differently. It’s an extremely broad spectrum and we are all unique. Having said that, we are nevertheless, part of the very unwelcome and ever growing club of sufferers who battle everyday, most of the time without anyone knowing or fully understanding. So here’s an insight into what my experiences are. Waking up with dread sometimes, not wanting to face the world. Knowing you have to putting on a brave face, a facade, a show that everything is fine. The constant feeling of worry and panic. For me, it’s not even about something catastrophic happening, just a general worry about everything. Over analysing, over thinking situations, outcomes, conversations. Questioning everything. Doubting everything. The sheer paranoia that you start to feel. Thinking your being watched, judged, criticised. Thinking everyone will abandon you because of how you are, that you’re just too much hard work and a burden on everyone. That everyone around you will give up on you. That you don’t deserve what you have and don’t deserve to be happy. The feeling of letting everyone down, being a failure, a disappointment. Feeling inferior, unworthy. Not being able to focus or concentrate. A disoriented disconnection from reality. Unable to find calm or to relax. Like you’re on a rollercoaster that you can’t get off of. On edge, fidgety, restless, jittery. When you can’t sleep, just laying for hours awake. Or waking up constantly through the night. Your mind on overdrive. Feeling exhausted and drained everyday. The need to be doing things all the time to keep busy so that you don’t let your mind take over. Wanting to just be alone but not on your own. The sudden urge to just get away and not be around anyone but then the loneliness of realising you want to be alone. Feeling isolated, trapped in your own mind, a prisoner. When you want to see friends and go out to have fun but the overwhelming dread of making plans or arranging to go out, sudden changes in plan or routine will set my panic into overload. Not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone or leave the house. Not wanting to be anywhere crowded or busy. Having to spend hours mentally preparing for the times that you do go out. The constant need to be in control of things, wanting everything to follow a plan or pattern, having to stick to routine so rigidly. When you have to have things done a certain way and then feeling that you have to do everything yourself because no one else will do it properly. Negative, intrusive and irrational thoughts. Horrific thoughts that enter you mind even though you know they’re bad and ridiculous. Your mind playing tricks on you constantly. (I won’t go into detail in this blog about my thoughts, that’s another blog entirely.)
It’s the wanting to shut yourself away and hide. Feeling that there’s no point to anything. That you don’t matter. But not only is there the mental and emotional pain and torment, the sheer draining exhaustion, it’s the physical pain aswell that comes with the stress you put on your body by living this way. I’ve had excruciating, crippling pain in my stomach for years which comes and goes. Some days it’s worse than others. After countless doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, scans, tests and a laparoscopy, it’s still deemed as ‘unexplained’ the medical profession can only put it down to stress and anxiety. It’s a very long uphill climb when you reach your lowest ebb and hit rock bottom. But it’s so important to know that as much as you feel alone, you really aren’t. 1 in 3 people now suffer with some form of mental health issue including depression and anxiety. There is so much help and support available. It does get easier, there are ways to feel better and to overcome your issues. It’s not a quick fix, it’s a gradual day by day, baby step kind of process but it’s so important to take those steps if you want to make a change and move forward. You don’t have to go through it alone. We are stronger together. It’s ok to not be ok.
Do you ever get days when you feel totally rubbish but you can’t put your finger on why? When It can be hard to explain how you feel. You just don’t feel yourself. When you want to say so much but just can’t talk at all. It’s not that there is anything particularly wrong as such but you’re just not right. For whatever reason every colour of your rainbow has faded to grey. When you get days where you’re so emotional and exhausted and feel like the world is on your shoulders. When you’re frustrated, agitated, restless. When you’re mind isn’t at peace. When the mask goes on and you have to put on a front. When everyday you have to pretend everything is ok. When you look after everyone else but yourself. People on the outside would never know that secretly you’re screaming from within. The days when you wish you could be invisible and shut the world out. When you want to be alone but not on your own. Sound familiar? Please know that you’re not alone. You are not weak. You are not a machine or superhuman. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be vulnerable. But actually it’s usually the bravest, strongest people that can suffer the most. Because they’ve been so brave and so strong for too long. For me, the combination of an outgoing personality and an anxious mind is a constant torment. 40 million suffer with some form of anxiety and depression affects 1 in 3 people. It’s so important to talk about it. Or at least just write things down. I find it easier in words than to say it out loud. Don’t let it eat you up inside. It will get easier, you will find your spark again. Together we are stronger.
There’s something good and beautiful in everyday. Even if you think you’ve had a rubbish day or things feel like they’re going wrong, look a little closer. What is the one thing however big or small that has made you smile, or that you’ve seen, heard or felt that’s made things seem a little easier today? Hidden within the busiest, stressful, chaotic and miserable days, is something good. You just have to look. Challenge your negative thoughts, what’s made you feel bad, or upset or angry? Look at things from a different perspective. Think of all the things that have gone well, that have gone right, the things that you have smiled at or enjoyed? It’s easy to think as soon as 1 bad thing happens or not to plan then we just write off the whole day. Go against how you feel and seek to find something positive and happy to make you feel better. Write down how you feel, what’s going through your head. Talk it out to someone, get it off your chest. I’m so lucky and grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. My daughter and my husband will always make me smile and make everything better if I’m feeling rubbish, they are my reason, my everything, my happy place. On the days where I feel rubbish, I challenge my negativity. If I don’t want to go anywhere and would rather shut myself away, I force myself to go out just for 10 minutes, I call it the 10 minute rule. Because I know by going against how I feel, by going out, I’ll feel better, it in my head I’m not putting pressure on myself as I’m telling myself it’s only for a short time. So I will get out in the fresh air, walk my dog and be grateful for all the good things. Then before I know it, an hour has gone by. I think about everyone who loves me and values me. I think about those people who I love and what they think are my strengths and good points. I listen to my favourite music. I listen to motivational and empowering audios. I do things I know will make me smile. I know it’s hard, but it’s about even on the bad days, pushing your bad thoughts out of the way, and doing things to overcome how you feel. Keep pushing forward. Don’t let your bad thought have the power. Seek the good and beautiful in everyday.
The word family isn’t just about who you are related to by blood, it’s who comes into your life and never leaves your side. Arguably, it’s the people who are there for each other no matter what, who love and support each other unconditionally. The people who, when you are with each other, feels like home. A sense of safety, security. Don’t waste your time and energy for people who don’t give their time and energy in return. If there are people in your life causing you pain, turmoil and unnecessary stress, then you have to ask yourself if it’s really worthy of you and your time. People come and go, some may not always be right there with you all the time, but it’s about who is present in your life adding value, happiness and love. Even if you’re just at the end of a message or phone call to each other, it’s people who are there for you in your time of need and who you can be there for in return. For many people, even they’re own family let them down and cause them this anguish. Just because your family are joined by blood it doesn’t mean that other people can’t be just as important to you. In some cases, it’s the people who aren’t ‘family’ that show more love and support than those who are. That’s what determines the true meaning of family. Don’t be afraid to cut the poison out of your life. Know your worth, you know who your true friends are and who will be there no matter what. You can’t people please and bend over backwards causing yourself grief for others who wouldn’t do the same. The people who love you, support you, guide you and have your back through thick and thin are the valuable ones. I’m very grateful and lucky that I happen to be surrounded by a loving family and friends. But not everyone has that. Not everyone can rely on their family. You don’t need to justify yourself or your actions to anyone, if it’s causing you heartache and pain, you don’t need it in your life. Put yourself first. Ditch the drama.
Life can throw all sorts of storms and rough times at us. We all have ups, downs, struggles & strains. Some worse than others. We are tested to the limit and at times feel like the bad out-ways the good, often wondering if and when it will ever end. When we are hit with an almighty bolt out of the blue, a trauma or tragedy, or when we are constantly knocked down over and over again. Our strength fades and we are at our weakest. Not knowing if we have any strength left to get back up. For some it’s a feeling like all we do is fail or that our best isn’t good enough. Sometimes we feel we are a burden to everyone around us. We feel inferior, unworthy or undeserving. That everyday is a struggle and an uphill climb. But it’s how and who we can over come these times with. Having support and love is so important. There’s nothing worse than feeling alone. I just wanted to say to anyone else who finds themselves in the dark, that eventually, somehow everything will be ok. The pain, the heartache, the torment will subside, it may never truly leave you but will get easier in time. The bad days are only temporary. You’re not alone. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to crumble and break. It’s ok to feel weak. Especially for the people in my life who are experiencing whatever kind of struggle, please know that I’m here, even just someone to be silent with and know that I’m here for each of you night or day. You know who you are. Sending all my love and thoughts to you all who are struggling. I hope reading my blogs can give some of you a sense of comfort.
Surround yourself with people who raise you up and make you smile. The people who love you for you and accept you just the way you are. Family, friends, having your loyal support network of people who you truly trust and who are there to catch you when you fall is so important. Never underestimate how much you are loved and how much people care. Sometimes when the black cloud descends, it’s easy to feel like your a burden and that you don’t matter or how you feel isn’t important. Where you feel it’s just easier to shut yourself away and not talk about what’s going on in your head. How it’s easier to pretend you’re ok and block it out. To avoid people and situations and conversations because you haven’t got the strength. Believe me it’s hard. A constant daily fight, the inner struggle. But just remember that there is always someone who you can talk to, to reassure you, to comfort and support you. Even if you physically can’t get the words out, even if you did try to speak but couldn’t even begin to know where to start, it’s ok, write it down instead. Just breathe and let go, let it out. You do matter, you are enough, you are loved.
How many of you look in the mirror and wish that you could change something? How many of you see something you dislike or are self conscious of? I’d imagine quite a lot. I’ve spent years picking myself apart and criticising everything about myself. Constantly self sabotaging and putting myself down. Telling myself I’m not goood enough, I’ll never achieve anything. I’ve totally betrayed myself and abandoned all self respect over the years. Amongst many other things, my legs, for example, have always been the 1 thing I was self conscious about and I’ve hated the most. I used to do gymnastics and dancing so they’ve always been quite muscly. But now, I’m actually growing to appreciate my appearance more and just what the body can do. It’s time to change and enough is enough. Why do we put ourselves down? Why have we stopped loving ourselves? Why do we dislike how we look and wish to look like someone else? Why do we hate when our bodies change? It’s part of life, it’s part of our journey. Lots of us mummies have stretch marks from childbirth etc that I have heard some say they hate and wish the stretch marks would go but in my opinion they represent something truly amazing and beautiful. They represent your journey as a mother carrying a child. How, so many women who have miscarried and lost their babies would give anything to have scars and marks of pregnancy if it meant they could have become a mummy and hold their babies. Or those who have scars that have happened from a life changing surgery or trauma but it shows you are a fighter, a warrior, a survivor. I’m not saying you should be happy about having your scars or how they happened because of course our scars, in most cases, usually aren’t there for a good reason but what I mean is you can’t change what’s happened or the journey you’ve been through but just know where you are now and what you’ve gone through fighting and learn to love who you are going forward. You are an inspiration to many. My point is, don’t get caught up on things you don’t like, yes it can be easy to make small changes to make you feel better. But we need more self love than self hate. For a lot of people it’s a battle of how they look or if they’ve put on weight. Weight is always a huge factor for so many. I know when I’ve put on a few pounds I’ll make small changes to get back to where I’m happier. But it’s not always about weight as such but how you feel in yourself. Weight actually isn’t important it’s just a number. It’s about being happy and healthy and comfortable in your skin. There’s nothing wrong with losing a bit of weight here or there in a careful way if that’s what you feel you need. However don’t let specific things that you don’t like about yourself rule your life and make you miserable. We all have saggy bits, cellulite, wrinkles, marks, moles, lumps & bumps. Embrace who you are and how you look because you’re unique and all of our flaws and imperfections make us who we are and sometimes, what we don’t like about ourselves, others love! Learn to love and accept the lumps, bumps, wrinkles, marks, scars, wobbly bits, muscly bits. They all tell a story and makes us special and beautiful in our own way. We only have one body to live it with! Take care of yourself, be happy and be proud of who you are. There isn’t another like you.
You are not defined by anyone else’s journey or success. You are not defined by your trips and falls. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s journeys or lives. Everyone is unique and different. We all have different situation, circumstances and opinions and ways of doing things. It doesn’t make us any less important or capable that anyone else. It doesn’t mean we have failed. The problem with social media these days is, it’s become people’s best friend but worst enemy. We follow people on instagram because we are inspired and admired by them and are attracted to the pictures we see, hence why we follow, but then it can start to get obsessive and a lot of us get really down about ourselves and let it get to us. Some people are deflated and frustrated because they wish they looked like these people they follow or had their house or their lifestyle or that particular car or wished they were fitter/thinner or whatever it may be. It’s like a weird envy of what we see or perceive on social media. It doesn’t do us any good emotionally or mentally sometimes. It’s all about perspective. Social media only shows you some of the story. For the most part, only the good stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging, it’s lovely to see how positive and happy people are and what ever people post or make their profiles look like, is up to them but just remember it may not be 100% accurate 100% of the time. It may not show you that persons struggle, the pain, tears, inner demons these people may face. A study has come out recently questioning whether the rise in mental health over the past decade is because of the increase in social media use and how long we spend following others. How much time do we spend on social media being envious of other people’s lives? Like everything, it has it’s good and bad, as I said, for some, it’s motivating, inspiring and enlightening and is an amazing way of connecting to people all over the world with like minded interests and things in common. But for others it can be a daily reminder that they aren’t where they’d like to be or that they aren’t good enough or won’t achieve the same goals or that their lives aren’t as fruitful or exciting as others. But again I stress that nobody’s life is 100% perfect, it’s not sunshine and rainbows all the time. So please don’t compare your life and circumstances with others. Look into your heart, your life and what you are blessed with, start each day being thankful and grateful for what you do have. Even if it’s small baby steps what good things have you achieved today? What have you done to make you feel proud? You probably don’t give yourself enough credit for half of what you achieve. However big or small. Believe in yourself. Know your worth. Learn to love who you are. Accept you for you. You are enough.