However, I don’t want to just limit this to my experiences or profess to understand how it feels to struggle with other difficulties that I’ve not been affected by. That’s why I’ve asked people to come forward and contribute their own experiences. The first person to feature in the guest contributions section of this series is Jenny from Jenny in Neverland. She is hands down one of my favourite bloggers and has inspired other posts of mine. Thank you so much Jenny for offering your story and helping to spread awareness.
When I saw Cara talking about a mental health series on her blog, where guest posters would talk about how their mental health conditions feel to them, I knew I wanted to take part and contribute. Mental health is, unfortunately, still a taboo subject. And it’s so clear that some people still don’t understand – and won’t understand – unless they experience it themselves.
I suffer from GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) and was diagnosed in 2010 (I think!) Mine’s quite an unusual case, it came on suddenly, after a bout of the flu but it’s controlled, manipulated and changed my life since. Although I can confidently say I’m 10x better now than I was within the first few years, I still have to deal with it and I’ll probably always have it to some degree for the rest of my life.
Anxiety is a funny ol’ thing because obviously, everyone experiences anxiety. Going to the doctors, having a job interview or getting on a plane for the first time can be anxiety inducing experiences for anyone. And I’m certainly not trying to downplay that. But experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder are two very different things.
Before I was diagnosed, I rarely felt anxious. I just wasn’t a worrier. I was care-free and happy. So you can imagine it completely turned my world upside down. GAD is persistent and excessive worrying; about everything or nothing. You can become so conditioned to feel anxious about so many different things that even when there’s nothing to feel anxious about – you still do.
A typical anxiety-induced day for me would feel a little bit like this; I’d wake up, generally okay. Then it’d gradually creep on throughout the day. I wouldn’t be doing anything that provoked it; it can come on even just sitting in bed, reading a book. But I’d start to feel the butterflies in my tummy first. Although they don’t really feel like butterflies, more like angry moths.
Then my heart-rate would ramp up, my palms would get sweaty, I’d get hot and bothered and generally quite restless. I’d feel like I was waiting for a really scary hospital appointment – 12 hours a day. It’s exhausting, tiring, annoying and frustrating. Another way I like to describe it is that it feels like there’s a tiger standing behind you, every second of the day and you don’t know whether to turn around and face it or just keep looking forward.
GAD ensures that your fight or flight response is completely off and you see threats and dangers where there isn’t any. You see the tiger in everything you do. Throughout my journey, I’ve been exceptionally anxious about a multitude of things. Some of them I’ve learnt to deal with and don’t think about anymore but some I’m still working on. These include: Going into shops, driving, being outside on my own, getting too hot, worrying about fainting, public transport, eating out and a lot more.
As I said, thankfully, I’m a lot better now. Generally, I don’t feel overly anxious day to day and when I do, I’m much more equipped to deal with the feelings when they come up. Thanks to private counselling which I don’t know where I would be right now without it. I can recognise that there’s nothing wrong, it’s just anxiety and it’s not going to hurt me and I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come in that respect.
I still get more anxious about things than everyone around me. I can’t just “do stuff” like other people can, I have to think and plan a little more on some occasions. But I got into such a dark place where the thought of stepping outside the door was like asking me to walk into an active volcano. My life now is so much better and open and free that it has been since I was diagnosed and I’m hoping to continue like that.
If you want to find out more about Jenny I highly recommend you follow the links below!
Thanks again Jenny!
Do you have any experiences you’d like to share? If so, head over to the ‘Contact Me’ page and let me know.