I carry around a huge amount of guilt with my illness. I hate that the people I’m close to have had to suffer with me. Why is it fair that they have had to listen to me for all of this time and keep me afloat when they have their own lives and issues to worry about?
In all my years of feeling this way, I have always felt belittled by those who say that anxiety and depression are just for attention seekers. An awful lot of people seem to be under the illusion that panic attacks are just for the melodramatics and the pathetic.
Let me tell you something, I wish they were.
What may seem like molehills to you quite possibly are someone else’s mountains. I’ll tell you about one of my mountains; post.
Whilst you may think that opening post is just another something in your daily routine, to me, it is so much more. You may get home from your day in the office and pick up that pile of envelopes off of the mat thinking nothing of it. You might open them straight away or you might have a cup of tea and open them later. Either way… molehill, right? No problem.
This is my mountain. When I am driving home from work, I often get struck by panic. I feel my stomach drop. I get so worried that I’m going to come home and find a mysterious letter waiting for me. I worry that it could be people chasing me for money, I worry it could be a letter with some bad news… I worry about anything that comes through that letter box for me.
When I’m not panicking, I am able to see just how irrational and dramatic that may seem, but at the time I have no other choice but to feel that way. That is anxiety.
Anxiety is not a choice. Anxiety has an awful way of manifesting into your everyday activities and it forces your world smaller and smaller. Your fears snowball and begin to limit what you feel you can do.
One of the biggest things I am guilty of is avoidance. I try not to get home before anyone else, because I know that it means being at home alone and I might panic if there is any post for me. I went through phases where I didn’t open my post at all, because I was genuinely petrified about what these letters would say (this did not end well!).
It makes sense; if you do something and have a panic attack, you’re going to think twice before doing it again! That’s only natural.
I know that probably does seem pretty melodramatic, but that is anxiety in one. It is an intense and irrational reaction to a circumstance. It could be a new situation you find yourself in or it could be something you have done every day of your life.
Once you start to avoid a situation, it is very hard to start doing it again. It is all about baby steps and little victories. It takes real courage to expose yourself to that situation again. Imagine going against all of your instincts and throwing yourself in. That takes guts.
Be brave, don’t let your world shrink.
I’ve learnt that to feel guilty about these panics only adds to my mountain. The aim is to gradually grind this mountain down, not add to it. I have overcome lots of mountains now, but still have plenty more to go.
*pulls funky socks up and continues mountain climbing*
Stay with me here.
(Image credit to Gemma Correll https://ohhdeer.com/collections/gemma-correll)