Updated: Feb 13
The word ‘anxiety’ is filtered into every person’s day to day vocabulary. From an article on social media, a friend’s morning text or an advert on the train. Anxiety is taking over, and it’s been in action for an extremely long time. Luckily now, Mental Health awareness is everywhere, and I think it’s the best fucking movement to of happened for today’s society since sliced bread, but this is only the beginning and there is so much more that has to be done.
Since having anxiety since I was as young as 14, back then I remember it was such a taboo subject and I didn’t even understand what it was I was dealing with or old enough to look into it further, I use to have to accept within my daily routine and have no coping mechanisms or ways to calm and control it
13 years later I have only just accepted what it is I have been dealing with for so long, how to get it under control and that it is okay to accept help, medication and the problem.
It came on very suddenly, I remember the time I started to notice the tense, jumpy, worrying and daunting feeling looming over me when my day started for no apparent reason. I tried to ignore it many times, but it soon became apparent to my Mum something was clearly not right. We used to be in the Town shopping which was mostly every weekend (mainly window shopping) and as soon as we got deeper into the shopping centre I would feel an overwhelming hot, nauseous, wave of panic come over my body and I would need to get out as soon as possible. The amount of times my Mum had to abandon her arm full of unnecessary clothing and find the nearest exit for me to go outside and overcome the fear I was going to throw up. It would happen in public places, places I felt no escape and there were many times I made my Mum get off the bus 10 stops way to early because I needed to be sick. I was never sick, not once. It was all in my head, it was all a fear, a panic that I would throw up in public and everyone would see. The feeling of throwing up scared me half to death in case I choked followed by a dramatic death and the whole situation would be too much to bear unless I got out into fresh air where not many people were around and I could compose myself.
My mum took me to the Doctors in the end and that’s when the Doctor put me on the contraceptive pill blaming my newly introduced Bodily Hormones. I guess at the time, I felt like I was at the Doctor and in good hands. If this is what they think will calm the attacks, then I was more than happy to oblige, and I felt slightly mature that they decided the contraceptive pill was what I needed.
Whether it was psychological or the Pill had balanced out the Hormones, I learnt to deal/ignore the waves of panic in public places. They become less frequent and I tried to avoid crowded shopping centres as much as possible... but not for long. Through my whole teens and adult life, I have suffered immensely with Anxiety and have never once faced up to it. After going through a life changing event and losing my Mum in 2008 my coping mechanism was to push everything to the back of my mind lock it in a cupboard and not deal with any true feelings. I threw myself back into life believing it was the right way to deal with it. I didn’t want to let this painful loss get in the way of me growing up and I still wanted to be a normal 16 year old. This came back to bite me on the ass. I was so use to my behaviours and my strategy of not dealing with my problems face on it became a part of my everyday life and the older I got the more the cupboard full of problems started to build and build from every normal life aspect. Grieving, relationship, dance college, grieving, growing up whilst grieving. It seemed the cupboard was extremely overloaded, and it was soon to burst.
I soon started to get irrelevant flashes of uncomfortable scenarios in my head that would stop me in my tracks and make me feel tense, queasy and tight. I would get (soon to learn) awful intrusive thoughts that were so random but had a real effect on me. They last for all of 5 seconds and I would bring my mind back to the present or think of something else and carry on with whatever I was doing. These thoughts would happen all the time and they also became a part of my everyday life. Throughout my life I have and still am an overthinker, I’m a worrier, I’m an obsessive thinker and I am a diagnosed recurring depressive who suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Yes everyone, Sasha.. the always smiling, making everyone else laugh suffers from depression and OCD and that is usually the case with all depression and Mental Health sufferers, they hide behind the smile.
I am the person that would throw the ' Your OCD ' comment left, right and centre. I still do it now as my boyfriend is dusting in between every blind slat. Funny thing is what a lot of people don't know is that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not just an obsession with washing your hands repeatedly, checking the doors are locked numerous times and having kitchen cupboards full of Domestos and Mr Muscle. No, OCD comes in various forms and it's the compulsion that contributes to the persons behaviour. Mine is obsessive, repetitive thoughts that lead to crippling anxiety and discomfort.
I would make myself sick with worry and nerves if I had to do something I didn’t really want to do. I would be scared to say no to things when all I wanted was to really, really say no. I can be up for going out and socialising then almost instantly regret comitting to it and convincing myself it's not a good idea. I can torture my own self with imaginary scenarios and obsess over thoughts about both my past and future. I can be down one minute, completely high the next. It got to the point last year where I got tired, exhausted infact. A certain event took place last year where I completely spiralled down, and It took with great effort a decision to say “enough is enough, I need help “I was sick of dealing with this unknown problem, sick of feeling so low on my own, sick of helping others with their problems, offering advice and not dealing with number one, Myself.
It took me an extremely long time, some great effort but I finally picked up the phone and booked in with my GP. That’s all it took, one phone call and I am on my way to being able to deal with this correctly, how to overcome this and how to live with it. Even calling my GP made me sick with worry that they wouldn’t be interested, they wouldn’t understand, they would laugh at my problems and find them untrue and strange and have a straight jacket waiting for me in the wings. Oh, how wrong I was. In today’s world we live in, anxiety and depression is REAL, it is PRESENT and today people are here 24/7 to TALK about it. That is movement. I read back through my journal entries from 2008 and it makes me extremely emotional to think of a young girl feeling the things she felt and feeling like she had no-one to tell, no-one to turn too. When all it could have taken was one phone call, or one conversation.
I have only delved lightly into my story, my therapy has only just started yet my aim is to shine a light on this subject constantly through writing, it doesn’t end with this post! I will hopefully be able to continue to write more positively and share my story further with you. I have finally realised, and I am thankful that there are people out there who will listen and help. Medication, like I thought for many years isn’t the devil and usually there is an option that works for the majority of sufferers even if it softens the blows of anxiety and lifts you slightly out your dark space, and if meds isn't for you there are various other options. There are many people who are still pushing their problems into their own cupboards at the back of their minds and feeling that they cannot share with anyone. As easy as it is to say... Don’t.
It has never been a truer fact that the happiest people are the ones hurting and hiding the most. Check on your friends and family, after offloading your own problems ask them how they are? Go out for coffee or walks more, get off your phone and engage in conversation with your company, look at your friends/family in the eye and take in every word they are saying. Not only do you not know what someone is going through, you also don’t know when it will be the last time.
I have my own personal things I like to do when I am in my dark space or find myself in a situation where I can feel the overwhelming panic coming on. I have listed them below, I am so intrigued to learn, research and explore further not just into my own story but other people that are suffering/suffered too. I am only just beginning my journey and as overdue as it is, I am glad I am starting it at a time where everyone is being educated and made aware of all the different Mental Health symptoms there are out there and what to do. I want to hear anyone’s and everyone’s stories and ways of dealing with their own personal experiences. We can learn a little, a lot from each other and sharing is key. Let's continue to end the stigma.
* • Write – I have written for coming up to 11 years now and always turn to the pen and paper when I am feeling down and need to express in words how I am feeling. I find it therapeutic and feel ten times better when I have offloaded onto the page.
* • Listen to music – I am most definitely the kind of person that if I am feeling sad, I will turn to the sad playlist. Celine, Barbara, Eva Cassidy and The Carpenters have been with through some emotional times with me. They bring on the tears that need to be set free. I usually end up having a good 15 minute sob and then my music session usually ends with a feel good, dancing on the bed song.
* • Spin/Zumba Class – if I am feeling like I really need to shake off the mood I am in through movement which is rare but has been done, I will attempt to drag myself to a workout class. I love Zumba and letting go and spin pumps me up big time. Usually after my class, I have forgotten about the lazy, depressed slump I was in before.
* • Loose myself in a book - I am obsessed with reading and there is nothing more I enjoy than loosing myself in a good novel. It takes your mind far, far away to a different world and it’s good for my soul
* • Call my nanna – My nanna is my diamond, she is an angel on this earth and a phone call to her which is usually daily is always precious.
There are probably many of you that have read this and feel shocked, confused as to how you didn't know and asking the question 'why hasn't she told me but has just told the world?' This isn't me talking about my life and telling my secerets because it is interesting. This is an attempt to help others but not only others...help myself. I have kept quiet for too long, I have literally word vomited this post out and I already feel lighter. I am not ashamed anymore to be taking meds, having therapy and obsessing over wierd/unessecary things. This is me, and it has been for a long time.
Now.. I can only better myself and feel proud of myself for once from here on.
I encourage and ask if you could, to share this. It just may help someone else unload their own mind cupboard.