Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. An anxiety disorder is a nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.
I think at some stage in all our lives we go through a period or moments of anxiety and unease. Its normal and certain episodes can be worse than others. For others, though, this is part of their daily life. I myself am one of those people.
Through a few blog posts I am going to take you through a few stages in my life that I have experienced over powering anxiety. My aim is not self pity or pity from others but simply to bring awareness to it. Be kind to each other and always know there is so much more going on in peoples lives and heads than what meets the eye. Be kind, be loving and be sympathetic………………………………………………………………
I can’t pin point any particular time in my life of when it started and as a child I don’t think it affected me a great deal. The only thing I can remember is that I would like things to be done correctly and fairly and I did not like when my point wasn’t being heard. Other than that, I had an amazing childhood and teenage life. I felt loved by my family and my peers and I had a large circle of friends and acquaintances that I surrounded myself with.
The day I finished my leaving cert my boyfriend and I broke up after nearly two years and we had our whole lives planned out together. It was coming for a while I think, as I was really high maintenance in the build up and throughout the exams. But I loved him so hard that my world was thrown. That summer was vey difficult and painful and when I got accepted into college it was bittersweet as we were meant to go together. College was a very difficult time for me and I think at the time I wasn’t ready to go. I was only seventeen and hadn’t a clue what I really wanted to do.
I’m sure all of you that have breaking up with someone at a young age will know that the pain is like no other. Your first love is always the hardest to get over. I had to idea of the world and the expectations of adulthood. We were two kids in loved who planned our lives in an idealistic world. You don’t have the coping skills to deal with such heart ache and loss and it only becomes apparent as you get older that it wouldn’t have worked or lasted forever. But at the time it consumed me.
I also lost my best friend that summer and I still don’t know why or what happened. Its like I woke up one day to this completely different world. She wasn’t on the other end of the phone anymore, she wasn’t there to comfort me through my heartache, she simply disappeared. We were friends from second year in school and we were inseparable. We would ring each other most nights and get in trouble for running up the phone bills. We would write letters to each other throughout the day or at night time and when we got mobiles we would text all the time. She knew everything about me and I was the same for her. It was a huge loss.
Without my two people I was most comfortable with in the world I became shy, I didn’t want to leave the house and I was totally lost. It’s like I was grieving for two deaths. When I love, I love hard, and loved both those people with every ounce of me.
I found friendship in another girl that summer as we were in similar situations. We became close quite quickly and enjoyed plenty of nights out and tried to mend each other’s broken hearts. She went away for a few weeks to work and I was lucky enough to join her for a few days for a holiday. I don’t think I would have got through that summer without her. I also became very friendly with another girl I went to school with. We weren’t part of each other’s circles in school but somehow became great friends afterwards. Both these girls are still in my life today and although we don’t talk or see each other as much as I would like, I always know they are there. Outside of both those girls I found it very hard to trust again – especially girls.
In September I went to the other side of the country on my own. This was when I think it started to manifest. I was in a house with people I didn’t know. I was thrown into a pool of hundreds of new people and trying to find my feet was harder than I expected. I am a home bird and being away from everyone for nights at a time, I struggled. I found it hard to go to college. I had the freedom of making my own choices and I chose a few wrong ones along the way. This is when I started to really comfort eat and put on weight.
I became friendly with the girls in the house and we enjoyed many nights out and in. But I always felt lost. When I drank, I drank too much. I was only 17 going to college I was immature, lost and heart broken, and I was trying to find where I fitted in. I made a fool of myself on more than one occasion and I learned from my mistakes, I had no choice.
At Christmas that year I got a job in Supervalu and although I was nervous, I knew one or two people there and I had something to look forward to at the weekends. Due to the lack of communication I didn’t get any hours after the Christmas period. I thought they didn’t need me anymore and I think they thought I wasn’t interested. This was corrected a few weeks later when Dad called back into the shop and happened to get talking to the manager who was a friend of his.
Supervalu became my safe place and I enjoyed working and having my own money. At the beginning I continued to socialise in Portarlington with all my friends from school and most weekends we would go out and have a great night. But I felt like I was trying too hard to fit in, I had lost myself and going back to college on a Sunday night or Monday morning was soul destroying.
I would spend time in my room most weeks crying, I couldn’t bring myself to study and I think I purposely failed so I didn’t have to go back. After my exams were over I worked as many hours as I could in Supervalu. I asked to be transferred to the office as numbers was my thing and I really enjoyed it. I found my place again and I really loved working there. I also found great comfort in music and songs and albums from this time instantly bring me back to a time and place in my head.
I failed college that year, and I had no interest in repeating – it wasn’t for me. I chose the wrong subjects, I was too far away from home and the people closet to me down there separately applied to live in different houses to meet new people, so I was going to have to start all over again trying to make new friends. Mam and Dad were very disappointed of course and I found dealing with this was the hardest thing of all. Not living up to someone’s expectations and letting them down is not easy. But I should never had went in the first place. I wasn’t ready.
With the help of my cousin and Mam and Dad they encouraged me to apply through the CAO again before the deadline in July. I applied to NCI in Dublin to do an Accountancy and HR course and thankfully I got in. The only catch was I had to take out a loan for the fees and pay for them myself. It was a life lesson well thought by my parents as they had funded my stay in Galway and college that first year and I wasn’t invested.
I had a job in Supervalu and was able to manage the repayments. They still helped me out with travel and expenses but being there was on me. This time I had to commute and that was torture. I still found it hard to apply myself, but I got through it in the end. It took me a long time though. Throughout my years of college in Dublin I worked in Supervalu. This as I said was my safe place and helped bring me out of the hole I was in.
Before working there, I would have panic attacks if I got too upset. I found it difficult to fit in, put myself in situations where I had to talk to new people and really found I retreated into myself and lost who I really was. Making friends and having work to look forward to really helped me be myself again. The anxiety I suffered while in Galway had started to slowly disappear and I was getting my confidence back.
Anxiety for me triggers in so many different ways, but back then I think it was a combination of getting my heart broken, losing my boyfriend and my best friend and starting college all in the space of 3 months. It was too much to handle and my body shut down. I experienced symptoms like insomnia, no energy, no confidence, no motivation, comfort eating, weepiness, panic attacks and more.
At the time I wasn’t educated enough on anxiety and depression and I suffered in silence. You don’t need to. Ask for help, talk to a friend, a family member or your doctor. Don’t try carry the world on your shoulders. Its too heavy. Just remember it doesn’t own you or define you…………………………………………
To be continued