Living with anxiety is tough, its a daily battle against your own body and mind. Its so hard to explain exactly how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Living on the edge waiting for the littlest of things to tip you over into a spiralling whirlwind of self doubt and panic. I’ve lived with anxiety on and off since my late teens, probably even before that. Some weeks I’m great, amazing, on top of the world, able to breathe, laugh, relax and then others I doubt myself with every decision, talking and seeing people becomes a chore, breathing becomes tighter, smiles become forced and laughter doesn’t happen. I lie awake at night so exhausted yet my mind is racing, worrying about things I manage to push to the back when I am busy. I sleep flitfully in and out of nightmares that prey on my fears and then I get up in the morning still exhausted and even more on the edge, tipping further into the anxieties vice like grip.
Times like these I can’t write, I struggle to get my words out and when I do they seem pointless. Why would anyone want to read my writing? My mind laughs at me and tells me I’m pathetic. It’s at these points that being a Mum becomes extra tough. Anything can tip me over, running late, forgetting something, the house in a mess. All the things I think I am bad at and desperately want to get right seem to go wrong even more. I berate myself for the tiniest, insignificant mistakes, my poor children try and help, watching me get more and more into a state. I try and breathe, calm my racing thoughts and heartbeat and sometimes it works, the fresh air and sunshine, just being outside I feel less claustrophobic and its enough to bring me back into reality.
On good weeks it seems ridiculous that I can’t cope, I multi task easily, remember everything and cope well with the usual family dramas. Then others I’m a mess, second guessing everyone and everything. I read people and their responses wrong thinking I have annoyed them for some reason, I retreat into myself becoming timid and shy, not wanting to say the wrong thing, my mind over analysing every detail. I hold my children tighter, loving them more fiercely, more afraid for them, fears I had with PND after Finlay try to resurface. A hug from James, his arms around me make me feel safe, my fears seem further away if only for a few minutes, giving me breathing space and some perspective. The silent tears of frustration, of not being able to explain what exactly is wrong are the only thing giving away my inner turmoil.
Writing helps, its a form of therapy for me and always has been. Being able to put some sort of order to my rambling thoughts and reading them back helps me to put them into perspective which I guess is what this is all about. On bad days I think I really must do something, speak to someone, get some sort of help and then the good times I try to forget about it, the tough times don’t seem as real and as fresh, they seem silly and so I don’t do anything. A week of little sleep, stress at work, James away and my anxiety levels rocket, hands shake as I try not to panic at things that I can usually take in my stride. Picking the boys up from their Dads sends me off into the deep end, trying to breathe on the way there it takes hours to feel more normal again.
When anxiety comes on suddenly its like you swallow a heavy stone, landing deep in the pit of your stomach you feel the thud sending waves of nausea laping at your dry mouth. Palms sweat, your vision alters making you feel disorientated as everything seems to slow down whilst the thundering race of your heartbeat rings in your ears. It’s ‘fight or flight’ without any extreme reason. Panic attacks become a fear, that make you hyperventilate so bad your hands and feet turn into claws, vision becomes blurred, sweating and puking it must be just as awful to witness. Having had one so severe once I required anti sickness injections and diazepam just to bring me back into the real world. The fear of having another so bad is always there at the back off your mind, when your pulse starts to race and you start to breathe with difficultly the worry of getting to that point makes it worse.
Living with anxiety is life crippling, life altering, holding you back at every turn. I’m ready to fight it head on, I don’t want to be in its grip waiting for it to spring on me in my times of weakness. I want to stare anxiety in the face and tell it, its not welcome here anymore.