How Anxiety Affects My Life.

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 I have suffered with anxiety for many years. It’s something that cripples me and seriously affects my day to day life. I hid my mental health problems for many years, I refused to acknowledge there was a problem, I did everything I could to hide it. Everything always comes to the surface though, you can’t bottle things up forever.

So now I’m speaking up. I started this blog in the hopes to educate people on the different aspects of my life. If I can educate one person on anxiety or PTSD or FND. If I can teach a friend or a mother or a teacher or even a doctor on how mental and physical illness affect someone on a day to day basic. If I can help someone to understand what maybe one of their loved ones is experiencing then this blog will have served it’s purpose.

Anxiety can affect anyone and at any age and you don’t have to have had anything traumatic happen to you.
It can strike even the most confident person. It can stop you from working, socialising and going to school.
It’s a lot more than ‘just being shy’. Everyone’s experiences with anxiety are different. Not everyone with anxiety suffer with panic attacks. It isn’t always seen. I can only speak about my experience with anxiety. My anxiety will be completely different to the next person.

My anxiety stems from my past. I am open that I have PTSD, I am however not open about why I have PTSD. Most things I get anxious about have already happened. I panic that history will repeat itself and I get stuck in the same cycle day after day. I am a worrier. I worry about everything. I worry about money, my family and friends, my pets. I worry that people or my pets are going to die or get seriously unwell. I am always worrying about something.

Anxiety makes me feel like I’m walking around the streets with no clothes on. It makes me feel exposed and like everyone is staring at me and plotting to hurt me. It feels like a million thoughts are clouding my vision and my rational mind is buried by all this panic. Public transport panics me, crowded shops and streets, ordering my food at a restaurant, paying for my things at the supermarket. I could go on but we’d be here forever.

They’ll be days when I’ll shut the world out and I won’t want to talk to anyone because I’m terrified of this parasite that’s causing me to panic. That’s what anxiety feels like. It feels like a parasite has attached itself to your thoughts and it’s attacking you, hour after hour, day after day. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get rid of this parasite. It’s decided that your thoughts are it’s new home.

I have good days and bad days. But lately it’s mostly bad days. The memories of my past threaten to suffocate me and the anxiety of it all sometimes gets too much. It’s impossible to know what to do and feeling so trapped and suffocated hurts so much, sometimes I don’t want to be alive. It’s exhausting.

My experience will be different to the next persons. Everyone’s anxiety affects them in different ways. Some people can’t out alone, some people can’t use public transport. Anxiety is a little demon that sits on your shoulder and whispers things in your ear. You try so hard to ignore it but it’s hard to think rationally when your mind is filled with panic.

It’s terrifying and isolating. I get so angry when someone doesn’t understand or disregards it as being ‘lazy’ or ‘anti social’ or even stupid. It’s not any of those things. I think some people think like this because they haven’t been educated about anxiety, they maybe don’t know what it is or understand that it’s an illness that needs to be treated just like a broken leg would. So many people across the world suffer from this horrible illness.

You can’t always see that someone is anxious. Sometimes you might not even know unless they tell you.

Anxiety ruins lives and isolates so many people. It’s a real illness and it can be very hard for people to live their lives in the way they want to.

Anxiety isn’t something you can just switch off whenever you feel like it. It’s always there, it’s always controlling you. Anxiety is real.

Dear Charley….

*Written when I was 18 years old.*

Dear Charley,

When I look at the photographs from years ago, you sitting there with your ocean blue eyes and the fly away hair,
and the little blue dress,
it seems like a different person, it doesn’t seem like me
it breaks my heart.

I want to tell you that bad things will happen,
that you won’t always be that happy,
everything will hurt and you will want to die.

I want to warn you about that day and those nights,
I want to make you promise me that you won’t keep anything a secret,
because you’re just a child, you are only 5 years old and you don’t have to be brave,
and when you grow up a little,
you still don’t have to be brave,
you don’t have to be strong for anyone,
its alright to cry.

Afterwards, you will lay in bed,
you’ll be terrified and unable to sleep,
some nights, you won’t get to sleep in your own bed,
and you’ll spend the night in a dark dingy cellar,
you’ll shut you eyes and escape to a pretend land you’ve made up.

Soon it will seem like an awful nightmare and you’ll pretend it didn’t happen,
but it did happen,
and I know that’s impossible to accept.

By your fifteenth birthday, you won’t feel anything anymore,
you will be numb
and in one of those awful moments,
you will lock yourself in the bathroom and draw a blade quickly across your leg
and you will say to yourself,
‘if anybody is going to hurt me, then it will be myself’
You are in control, but I promise you that you aren’t in control,
its a cruel illusion,
because it happens again and again,
your exposed bones and scarred skin will not save you.

Over the years you will write pages upon pages and you will read hundreds of books,
and you will do you best not to upset or anger people.

You tell yourself that you are holding it together while you hide the scars under your clothes,
and you can’t tell anymore if you’re eating or not.
You will become so cold that you won’t like anybody touching you
and the anxiety rises up in you chest like a heavy weight.

I know all this seems beyond awful,
and I know there will be days when you are so tired that you can’t even take another step,
and whenever you want to give up entirely, just remember that you survive.
At 18 years old, I can tell you this, you survive the first time,
you survive the second time,
you survive all the other times,
these terrible things happen to you and you survive,
slipcovered in lies and scars.

What PTSD feels like.

I constantly feel on guard, waiting for something to happen. It’s hard to let myself feel safe, it’s like having a protection shield up around all of the time; just in case.
It’s like being held underwater and you can’t come up for air. You’re stuck there, it’s impossible to loosen the chain that’s around your ankle, holding you down.
It’s like being forced to walk over broken glass, without anything on your feet. But the feeling spreads all over your body. Scratching the surface. You can’t get rid of these feelings, they’re everywhere. They’re watching your every move.

You’re stuck in this constant cycle of remembering the traumatic events and fighting to forget it ever happened.
It’s not knowing what to do anymore, you’re an outsider in your own body.

  I have lost so much due to my PTSD.
I couldn’t complete my college course due to my illness, I lost friends who didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I’ve had people call me attention seeking, lazy, crazy, stupid and so much more.
I’ve had to cut so many people out of my life, who are or could have been in contact with my abusers. I can’t take any chances.
I’ve had to spend the best part of 2 years in a refuge, hiding from them. And still to this day I am hiding from them, I will always be hiding until the day they die.
I’ve had to change my name and move miles and miles away just to get away from them. It’s not safe.

PTSD is so misunderstood. People don’t talk about it, it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation.
When people think PTSD, automatically they think soldiers who’ve been in war. That is not the only reason that people develop PTSD. It can occur when someone goes through any traumatic event, whether it be rape, assault and child abuse and so many more.

My emotions are all over the place. One minute I’ll be consumed by an overwhelming sadness and i’ll just want to end my life, the next I’ll be furious with myself, with my situation, with anything. I hate who I’ve become, I hate this is the person I am. I don’t want to be this way anymore. I want things to be different but I don’t know where to start.

I lose so much time. I’ll forget the day, I won’t remember what happened yesterday or the day before. I’ll feel like i’m detached from my body, i’m over the other side of the room yet I’m sat somewhere different. I’ll be eating a yogurt but that’s not my arm, it doesn’t feel like my arm.

I feel out of control, the past swallowing me up like a tidal wave. It’s been consumed with anxiety every single minute of every single day. I can’t get away from my fears because they eat me up from the inside. Swooping down and reminding me that I’m not safe. I’m not safe because they will always be there, knocking around in my head, reminding me of why I should be on guard, reminding me of what happened every.single.moment.

I feel guilty. It was all my fault, because let’s face it, whose else was it? I feel guilty for things in my present life, I feel the need to fix things, even if I know deep down I can’t. I can’t make people angry because I’m afraid of what might happen if I do.

I just feel like this is going to be my life forever. So many years have been clouded by the trauma, I’ll never get that time back, I’ll never be able to have a childhood because that time is gone.

It’s knowing that human beings can be evil, they have the power to destroy you in a blink of an eye. That even people who you love and look up too can hurt you beyond belief, they can break you.

You’re on autopilot, no control over your thoughts, actions, feelings, dreams, body. Everything is my life is affected, I am wired into survival mode all the time. I have to be on guard, just in case. It’s like my rational part of my brain is shut down when I react to something my brain intercepts as wrong.

I’ll be sitting on the sofa, watching something completely unrelated to trauma and i’ll taste something in my mouth. Is that beer? There isn’t any beer in the room but the taste is very real in my mouth. I drink water, desperately trying to rid myself of the taste but it’s still there.

Anything can be a trigger, you have to be careful because you cannot be reminded, you cannot remember because that is too overwhelming and too scary. It can’t happen.

It’s feeling wrong, bad, taken. It’s knowing that my body will never be my own. They took that away from me.

What does PTSD feel like?
It feels like living in a prison. You’re rattling the cage doors but you can’t get out. You can’t ask for help because they keep you imprisoned. They’re whispering in your ear, not allowing you to ask for help.
It feels like hell.