Those that know me would probably piece together the bits of my stories and work out it’s me, but I prefer to keep this anonymous.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a very anxious person.
I have long suffered from social anxieties, along with fears of many different activities, and more recently night time anxiety.
You could also say that these things combine well to give me a lack of self-esteem and some possibly depressive episodes.
When I was asked to write this, my first thought was that my problems were not worth writing about, that they wouldn’t be interesting, and that a lot of people have worse problems that a bit of anxiety, however it is that reaction that inspired me to write.
For years I have struggled with many different kinds of social situation.
My lack of confidence in these situations mean that in new social areas I end up standing alone waiting for people to speak to me, or if I know someone I will tend to attach myself to them which can feel even more awkward.
Even in familiar places, I find things tough, at work a lot of interactions, even as simple as saying hello to a colleague at work I find myself thinking ‘run away’, or panicking in my head as I have a discussion.
Things can improve as I get to know people, however I feel a constant pressure during conversations to keep them going, and that often leads me to feel like I’m no good even at socialising with friends.
There are of course a few exceptions to this rule, people with whom I click instantly, but it’s not very often.
I saw one of those things you often see shared on Facebook a while back about suffering with depression and anxiety, which contained something along the lines of wanting to be alone, but not wanting to be lonely, I related to that more than I thought I would.
My lack of self-confidence stretches to many different areas.
When I have to explain things at work as part of my training, I panic and everything falls out of my head, as happened many times in job interviews.
I have been single for pretty much all of my adult life because I do not believe I am worth being in a relationship with as I wouldn’t want to inflict myself on anyone, and as such I decided to make it my decision not to try and seek it out.
I have often ducked out of a lot of physical activities, especially as I was in the Scouts for years due to fears of so many things.
I have some great friends who will try and help me when I am down, or anxious, or stressed, but I find it so hard to take in such advice.
It also affected me during my short previous career as a teacher, where I suffered from terrible stress and anxiety related to the job.
I felt unsupported and harassed at the time, and could not deal with it on the return from Easter break in my NQT year.
I was struggling to sleep, and would wake up in the middle of the night – I have learned that this is how I know I am stressed. I didn’t go back to work on the first day of term. I went to the doctor on that day and was diagnosed with stress related to work, and given some tablets to help me sleep and referred for a bit of counselling at the school I worked at.
In my job last year I went to see the counsellor after being told that my superior was moving to another job just 4 months after I joined and that would leave me as the only person to run the service.
One of the things that has come up throughout these sessions with different counsellors is my ability to be different from myself when I go and watch football, where I can be loud and confident, singing and shouting, and working as a volunteer which allows me to be in the public view and interact with people…but I cannot recreate this anywhere else.
Another time where I had to find some support followed an incident well beyond my own control that ruled my nights and continues to do so 3 years on.
A car was torched and blew up outside my window at 5.30am.
For the next 6 months plus I would struggle to sleep and would get up to check outside my window every time a car stopped for too long, or people lingered on the road, or even for no reason, and would lie in bed feeling tense and panicky.
I hate being at home alone, although I was always tense alone at night, it got worse after this and still continues to be that way.
I found some solace in the radio, as it provided a calming influence that also covered up a lot of generic background noise, and has helped me to return to more normal sleep.
However one thing that this taught me is how hard it is to get over something that you know will most likely never happen again.
Another thing was a theory that anxiety travels faster than logic – even normal sounds where I know what they are get me feeling tense quicker than I can identify what they are.
My life feels ruled by these anxieties.
The difficulty sleeping, the going to bed and having instant feelings of worthlessness and depressive thoughts, and fear even in my own home, the panic in social situations.
However, a friend recently told me that she was inspired to keep going by my actions throughout my problems.
This made me feel good, as my friend puts up with so much more than I do and she still keeps going, as do other friends I know.
I try to help my friends to work the same attitude to help them to get through things even though they feel they can’t, even though there are times where I don’t feel like I want to do things.
I have realised throughout all my anxiety and depressive thought that I have managed to achieve throughout.
I managed to get through my teacher training and become qualified (even if I moved on from it), I completed my masters, I moved out (even for a relatively short time) and eventually I have reached a position where I am doing a training job that should get me moving in the right direction.
I have also established myself in the last ten years in my volunteering roles that give my life so much fulfilment.
My anxieties may not produce much in the way of physical symptoms, it doesn’t stop me getting out of bed for example, but they do hold me back in many ways.
So even though I feel so much more anxiety now I am still able to push through and get on.