When anxiety kicks in
Posted Monday 11 March 2013
Anxiety is not something I've had to deal with all my life. I often look back through the times when going out to meet people wasn't such a big deal. Times when I'd go to my friends house for the first time and not have to worry about making a fool out of myself when knocking on the door and asking if they were home. Times when I could be excited for a big event without even considering the "what if's". I look back, and I think to myself... "How ever did I manage to go from a confident and careless person to someone who often can't manage to get on a train alone anymore, or go jogging alone, or attend a medical appointment alone?".
Anxiety is something that is often misunderstood and passed off as a normal part of life, and usually it is - everybody experiences some form of anxiety, it's a common reaction towards the unknown. However, a lot of people do experience anxiety to the point where it becomes an everyday struggle.
In school I was one of many students who didn't really fit in to any group. I was bullied on several occasions, though not constantly. I minded my own business for most of the time and hoped that nobody would notice me, although I clearly remember times where my chair would be pushed into my table by the giggling girls sitting behind me which resulted in bruised ribs. I remember countless death threats from a girl and her friends in the year below me and I remember being mocked for the kind of music that people assumed I liked, which then led into nasty comments about my clothes and the way I dress and more.
While my whole school experience continued to drag me down, it was only when I left school that my anxiety really started to kick in. It was as if all the nasty comments, dirty looks and the pressure of school life had merged into some kind of collective force that gradually crept up on me, making me frightened to leave my house alone in case people looked at me with judging eyes, afraid of doing something foolish in public and people start to laugh. Sometimes it goes beyond the situation of people's reactions and I often get very anxious before a big event that I am generally excited for. I'll lie in bed the night before shaking, feeling nauseous, crying and what for? Who knows, but it happens, and this is anxiety.
Anxiety can also affect the relationships one might have. I'm often asked out by very kind people who want to get to know me better, and unfortunately, most times I turn down the offer just because I'm worried about acting awkward or foolish around them. This often leads into a misunderstanding that I'm purposely trying to avoid them and the simple answer is that I am just anxious. It makes me feel guilty, and it's beyond my control. This is still an ongoing battle for me, and it's one I am certain to win.
As I have said, it's so incredibly hard to explain to somebody who isn't familiar with these feelings without them misunderstanding and thinking you are just going through a little nervousness (or god forbid, attention seeking!), it's something that can go beyond a small fear and progress into something that can restrict you from so many things that life offers: Jobs, school, public transport, medical appointments, social events. I hope that at least somebody is able to relate to this - it is nothing to be ashamed of and I hope anybody dealing with anxiety finds some sort of solution in time, just like I know I will.
We all experience anxiety from time to time, but when anxiety gets severe or out of control it can become tough to cope with day to day life. Take a look at our anxiety information, or listen to our podcast.
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