Have you ever lived in a state of constant fear, anxiety and stress? Yes? No? Well I have. For well over a year that’s how I lived and that is a reality many people with mental health issues face. Even now, months after I left the situation that forced me into that state, I still get anxiety and panic attacks about it. That past experience is a huge trigger for my anxiety and now whenever I am in a situation that is even the slightest bit similar, my anxiety likes to remind me that she’s still there. She’s a bitch to deal with some days. Anxiety leaves me emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted after fighting and pushing away my thoughts all day. When I try to go to sleep I can’t because I am laying there alone with my thoughts. I have to distract myself asleep by watching videos, scrolling through Pinterest or reading interesting articles. Why do I have to distract myself to sleep? If I just lay there in the darkness, I’ll never sleep. I always think too much about what people think of me, and it’s usually when I’m laying there at night that it’s the worst. Am I being too needy? Am I asking too many questions? Am I crossing the line? I know that I will never, ever let myself get into the situation I did last year again but now I have to live with and deal with the fact that that situation has internally scarred me and it is not going to get better until I heal. It could take months, it could take years for me to heal. Who knows…
So I have now been sitting here for well over half an hour, procrastinating writing this post because it’s making me anxious to think about anxiety. My anxiety triggers vary and some of them I don’t even know yet but I’ll try to list them for you. High stress situations, thinking about my anxiety, when people don’t openly communicate, when I don’t know how someone is going to react and being misunderstood. They’re the ones I know for sure and yes, just listing them made my anxiety rise in my chest. I’ve spoken before about how I differentiate my anxiety. I basically separate them into two categories, anxiety attack and panic attack. To me, an anxiety attack are those strong anxious/fearful feelings and a panic attack is where I can’t think, I start hyperventilating, a touch of crying and my body goes into fight or flight. I lost count of the amount of times I had a panic attack last year, and the longer I was in the situation I was in, the worse my panic attacks got. They got worse because smaller and smaller things began setting them off. It got to the point of getting a text message from certain people or getting lost would cause me to start panicking. I have now been writing this post for an hour and a half. I just had a little cry and needed comfort from my amazing partner just to get through this post. Hopefully it doesn’t take another hour and a half to finish, but if it does, so be it. This post may be up later than normal but I am giving myself the time to write it fully and not give up, even though I’ve considered deleting this post already about 50 times. This is incredibly hard for me to write about but I hope getting my message out there will help others.
I went to see a psychologist at the end of last year to help me get through the year and to learn how to get rid of my panic attacks and manage my anxiety. But now, I need to go back, not because I’ve relapsed, but because I need to learn not to expect the worst and not let my anxiety prevent me from becoming the person I have the potential to be. I went to a professional development seminar yesterday down on the Gold Coast and it was absolutely phenomenal. One of the many things we talked about was self-esteem. The lady speaking, Dr. Louise Porter spoke about how there are four different types of self-esteem. Self-esteem is based on two factors, worth and competence. Here’s the diagram we were shown that I have just done up on Paint.
Yes, we were talking about children but self-esteem also applies to adults. I learnt yesterday that I had a Conditional Self-Esteem. I am a highly competent person, and yet I see myself as not worthy. I am constantly trying to prove myself to people to bring my self-worth up. I promise you, I wasn’t always like this. The situation I was in last year dragged my self worth down, way down. I never thought I was enough. No matter what I did, it wasn’t enough. I never needed approval from anyone but a year of constantly asking for permission to do stuff, being told your wrong and not being allowed to do things your way does bad things to a person. Being controlled is not part of being a human. We are not designed to be controlled, and yet I was. And I am still paying for it.
Ok, deep breath, you can do this. (My inner voice)
I have learned this year that to get what I want I need to ask for it, even if I’m not sure what the answer is going to be. People are not mind readers, they don’t know what you want if you don’t tell them. I have had to teach myself that it is OK to speak your mind. Not everyone is going to react inconsistently when you have an opinion of your own. It’s been a big learning curve, but as you can hopefully see, even though anxiety is still something I struggle with, that I have significantly improved within myself this year.
I hope no one ever has to go through what I did, I would never wish it on my worst enemy. Being controlled, manipulated, fearful, anxious and stressed for over a year does bad things physically, emotionally and psychologically. It has affected my physical health in way I am STILL discovering. I am still finding out just what stress can do to a person’s body. I do not blame myself. Yes it was my own anxiety but the situation was not caused by me. All I wish is that I never let it get so bad. I wish I had gotten out as soon as I realised it was beginning to affect my health. Hindsight is a wonderful thing sometimes, but I didn’t need hindsight in this situation, I should’ve just trusted my gut the first time, not when I was at breaking point.
If you are having any trouble with your mental health or you’re in a situation that makes you unhappy. Find help and GET OUT! You only have one life and you should not live in misery, or stress, fear or with anxiety. If you are unhappy about any part of your life, choose to change it. Don’t put up with it. Don’t make the same mistakes I did and suffer these horrible consequences. You always have a choice, even if you’re not sure it is the right one. You always have the option to better your life.
This post was so much harder for me to write about than I thought but I hope it either gives you some insight into mental illnesses, my life and my past or it helps you gain the courage to make changes in your life. If you are struggling with mental illness or any other issues and you want help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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