I don’t always think people talk about mental health issues enough, yet awareness is so important. People might not always know what’s going on with you. It’s not always something you can see from the outside. Because of this, I think a lot of people may not always know you have it, or how it’s affected you. I worry at the moment that my anxiety might be returning.
My Anxiety Might be Returning
It never really left, but I did get better at dealing with it. I am generally in a much better place, but sometimes it does rear its head.
About two years ago it was awful, and I never want to go back there. I felt so isolated and down all the time, I could barely talk to anyone. Constantly, I felt like I wasn’t good enough at anything and that people would judge me for how I was interacting with them.
I used to really beat myself up when someone said ‘Hi’ or tried to start a conversation and I couldn’t respond properly. I’d feel like they left thinking, ‘What a weirdo’ or, ‘She doesn’t want to talk to me’. I felt like I couldn’t even do the most simple things properly and everyone was going to think I was stupid.
Another thing is, I didn’t realise at the time that there was a name for what I had. I didn’t realise that so many other people are going through something similar. I think that knowing this would really have helped.
Welcome to My Anxiety
I know anxiety manifests itself differently in everyone, and now that my anxiety might be returning, I feel like talking about how it affects us lets other people in and helps to combat the isolation. For me, it often makes it difficult to make eye contact when I’m talking to someone. I might seem like I’m not fully listening because I’m thinking of the next thing to say to keep it going. Or that I’m just not that interesting, and why would someone want to waste time talking to me?
Sometimes if I offer to do a favour or help with something, or if I’m talking about my feelings, I won’t always sound sincere or like I mean it. This comes from a worry that you’ll think I don’t mean it, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Trust me, if I am saying something like that, however it sounds, I do actually mean it.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed if I’m around a lot of people, and this might make me shut down a bit. I might just chat to the person next to me for a bit as this can help me get more comfortable. Sometimes it makes me appear shy, or I’ll barely talk to you at all, and this is because I worry that you won’t like me or don’t want to talk to me. My mood turns so blue sometimes, and it could be something small or silly that’s set it off. Sometimes I get this inner voice that goes, ‘No-one wants you here’. That’s the worst one of all.
Comparing Myself to Others
I try not to, but it’s so difficult not to compare yourself to other people. There are so many other people who are smarter, younger, prettier and more interesting than me. Sometimes I think, ‘Why would anyone talk to me, when they could talk to them?’ And I know I shouldn’t be worrying about that – there are always going to be people in the world that are better at things than you, and it’s important just to focus on being the best version of yourself.
Sometimes doubt also gives me a lack of confidence in myself. For instance, I might be dancing and I get this voice going, ‘You look ridiculous and everyone is laughing at you’. Often, I hope that trying to look my best or having another drink will give me more confidence. But it doesn’t really work like that.
The Power of Opening Up & Talking
Letting people in can mean you’re not so alone anymore. In my case, people should know it’s not anything they did and that I’m not wanting to appear off with them. If I look like I’m struggling or being a bit off with you, then it’s just my anxiety, so please don’t worry about it. The best thing is to ignore it and just carry on talking to me as normal.
I get good days and bad days (or parts of days) but I’m not prepared to let it take over my life or define who I am. It’s an affliction not a weakness. These things don’t always stop you being all the awesome things you can be. Most often you do still see the awesome bits of other people that have it.
And if you’re going through something like that, I’d say to talk about it. Let people know. Don’t let it all build up inside or think that you have to do it all on your own.
I’m lucky to know so many amazing people, and a lot of you have picked me up when I’m low. It really made a difference, and just know I’m always here for any of you too if you need <3