Sunday, 20 September 2015

The thing about anxiety is...

The thing about anxiety is it makes every single small, tiny, mundane thing extra difficult.

My anxiety/panic disorder means that almost everything I do is fraught with at the very least trepidation and, in some cases, terror.

And when I say almost everything, I mean almost everything.

Depending on my mood, hormones, how I'm feeling, how much sleep I've had and a million other apparently nebulous and indefinable reasons, sometimes I can't even walk into town. I can't walk down a street. I can't go into a shop. And I can't enjoy anything without feeling so terrified that I hyperventilate, heave, gag, shake and want to weep.

Other days I can do things that normal people can do.

All of which is just how it is.

It's been this way, off and on, with varying degrees of severity for many, many years.

It means I either don't go to concerts, gigs, bars, restaurants or social occasions or, if I do commit to them, I spend many, many days, weeks and sometimes months in a form of abject terror before the event.

The last few years, since I was brutally fired from a job in York, have been more difficult. My anxiety became too much for me to deal with. I very nearly gave up entirely and the year I spent living with my mother last year both gave me the chance to start to try and heal (again), pick myself up from an agoraphobic coma (again), work through the panic and terror to live a semblance of a normal life.

To be terrified of bungee jumping, for example, is understandable to most people. To feel trepidation before jumping out of an 'plane, as another example, is something that most people feel completely able to understand.

Take that fear - the fear you get when you think of your personal Room 101 hell, the fear you would have to face to do something that is so terrifying that it instantly makes your mind go blank with terror, your heart beat so fast it's literally painful and the terror course through your veins so fast that you know if you stay in this situation for one more second you will be annihilated. Take that fear and apply to everyday circumstances.

Getting a train.

Going to the supermarket.

Driving.

Eating in public.

Talking in public.

Being in public.

Having an anxiety disorder means being brave every single day, to do the simplest thing.

And it means, when faced with something like, oh, I dunno, a flight to Greece on Wednesday, the fear is off the scale. I haven't slept properly in a couple of weeks. I have intrusive thoughts about the flight. My heart beats so fast it hurts. I am on two anti anxiety drugs. I am desperately trying to do breathing exercises, visualisation, anything at all that might just lessen the terror I feel. And yet, it;s still here.

I know that all there is to do now is to do it.

I just have to get on that plane.

I have a think about myself sometimes and I wonder how it came to this. That I have a life where the worst thing that's happening at the moment is that my adorable fiance has booked me a holiday to Rhodes. And I can't wait. To spend 10 days with him without having to work is, in itself, astoundingly lovely.

But before I can get there I have to fly. And that's all I can think about.

I have flown 14 times in my life so far. I know the statistics. I know how many flights happen every single day without incident and I still, STILL, want to not get on that plane.

I will though,

Even though the thing about anxiety is it tries to get the better of you. Just this once, I'm not going to let it.



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