It’s something that you don’t understand until you have experienced it. It can be difficult to control and sometimes it will creep up on you out of nowhere, even when you think you can prevent it. It usually happens once I have had a really positive experience. When I am happy, my brain overcompensates and fills me with a rush of sadness and negative thoughts. It can be extremely frustrating because all I want is to enjoy the happiness, savour it, look back on it. I just can’t do that when the anxiety takes over.
What I find the most difficult is that not everybody understands. You can try and explain how you’re feeling to somebody over and over again, but unless they have been through it themselves, they don’t really understand. They can tell you to ‘calm down’, ‘think positively’, but it really isn’t that simple. Of course, I am not taking away how supportive the people around me are, because they do really try, but they can’t take away the anxiety. I don’t really think you can ever be rid of anxiety, you just learn how to overcome it.
Moving back to the point about negative thoughts and emotions overwhelming you when you’ve been at your highest, the same occurs when you are at your lowest. To me, that is even worse. You’re feeling really low, really on edge, and you’re thinking that it can’t get lower than this and then that is when it hits you. At first you were feeling anxious and upset about one thing, but then suddenly every single thing that you have ever worried about comes flowing back and you just crash. Of course, this is just in extreme circumstances as it does not always get to this point. It’s about how you deal with it, because the moment you think it will win, it will. Similarly, as soon as you begin to believe that you are better than this, it will get better. It will get easier. It may take some time, everything does, but you need to keep at it.
The last few months I have been doing quite well, and I put that down to solely changing my mindset and how I look at these things. I do have down days, and some days they can get too much, but I would rather take smaller occurrences of down periods than having it every day, as it once was. I could come back here and write about a really awful day I have had, because although I am feeling generally quite happy at the moment, you never really know what the next day will bring you. That is what scares me about anxiety, not knowing when it will light up.
I feel anxious every day about something. It may not be as big as thinking that people don’t like me or that I’m not good enough, but it will be something. I could be anxious because I see somebody standing too close to the train tracks and they might fall, or that I feel a little bit unwell and I’m worried that I might throw up, or just simply because I have anxiety and I get anxious. I can deal with feeling anxious about little things like this, I can understand that and I have to live with it, so I’m used to it. I’m learning how to cope with it, and I think that is a huge achievement in itself.
Although I still have barriers that I need to overcome, I know that I will get there. It’s all about taking baby steps to get to where you want to be. I’ve realised now that the anxiety won’t just go away because I want it to. It’s a mental illness that I have to battle, that I am battling every single day. The first step to overcoming it, is understanding that you have it. Understanding that whilst your friends may not feel the same way as you, or get upset and worried like you do, it is normal. To me, that is the first step to recovery, and the first step to getting yourself back to where you want to be.