So today I want to talk about anxiety. I have suffered with anxiety for so long I don’t actually remember what life is like without it. Anxiety is one of the reasons too that I’ve been struggling again to write. I have been really feeling as though people would only read my writing if it was making a statement or that was about something important, and after that I decided that I have been putting way too much pressure on myself which has made me unable to write. I have forgotten that the reason that I started my blog was to tell people about how my conditions affect me and about things that happen to me too, it wasn’t to create masterpieces each and every time I post. Hopefully this might free me up a little. I hope so anyway.
I am a huge Take That fan (I went to their concert recently and it was amazing!!), and I was listening to one of their songs the other night “Get Ready For It” and there’s a line in it which says “Cos the enemy inside me is holding me back” and this is how anxiety can feel to me. It feels like I have another person inside me telling me that I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, not clever enough etc. etc. etc. Now this voice to me is always there, it’s just that on good days the voice is not as loud it can be suppressed a little and will let me override it. However on a bad day my anxiety voice is so loud, it shouts. It’s irrational, it makes no sense sometimes, but sometimes it makes such perfect sense that it can make me not do things or do things that I don’t want to like push people away. You see on bad days I cannot control this voice, I cannot quieten it, I cannot override it in fact I sometimes cannot do anything at all. Sometimes on bad days other people can help me to override, my mum for example is great at doing this. She can be the voice to quieten down my screaming thoughts enough to function. But other days nothing will help.
I think that people think that hearing voices only happens in people with schizophrenia, but my anxiety has a voice as does my depression. Now please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not hearing voices telling me to do things or talking to me as a person who is not there. It’s a constant nagging voice inside my head, not quite my own voice (but a version of it) always putting me down and making it hard to do even the simplest task on bad days.
So, on a bad day what does this mean for me. It can mean that I cannot leave the house, it can tell me that everyone is looking at me and if I leave the house everyone will look at me and be talking about me behind my back. It can trigger my fight or flight response. It can tell me that my writing is rubbish, that no one will ever want to read it and that writing it is a complete waste of time. It will keep telling me this while I’m trying to write until I get to the point where all I can think and all that comes out of my head is garbled so that I have to then stop. It can stop me doing or wanting to do the simplest of tasks. I’ve had a panic attack before trying to pack for a trip, because the voice got so loud in my head telling me that I needed to pack but that I was going to forget everything I needed and that I would arrive on my trip and not have anything with me. It kept going to the point that my mum had to pack for me, and I almost had to cancel my trip (this was before I was disabled and now I can’t do this myself anyway!!)
Medically speaking anxiety can have a very large and detrimental effect, not just the anxiety itself but the responses it has caused. I have had so many people tell me that I’m making up my condition, that I’m lying about how things affect me or that I’m simply wasting their time. I now have the reaction that if I have a test that doesn’t find an answer or I have a specialist who decides that they cannot help me my brain tells me that they are thinking “you’re lying” “you’re making it up” “you’re wasting everyone’s time”, it can even tell me that I am not worthy of knowing what is wrong with me or that no one can be bothered with me because my condition is complex.
I cancel appointments, I cancel on friends, I cancel plans with everyone. It’s not a conscious decision, I don’t choose not to go. I try everything to make myself go but there are times where that just is not going to happen. I have even had times where I physically couldn’t set foot outside the house.
So please, if I cancel on you or tell you I’m having a bad day, or I say my anxiety is bad don’t think that I’m being rude or think that I cancel on you all the time so you won’t invite me any more. Please understand that it’s my anxiety and that a battle is being fought in my head, a battle that on that day anxiety has won but tomorrow may be different. Tomorrow I may be able to quieten the voice go out again and maybe even enjoy it.