Anxiety – A Life Lived In Fear

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Before seeking the help I needed to bring my anxiety under control, I spent the majority of my life living in fear. Fear was at the heart of my anxiety. Both in the fear of the unpredictable and fear of anxiety itself. I could not function and as if frozen to the spot, I just watched as life passed me by.

Control

It was this fear that allowed anxiety to control me. It was also the thing that gave it form, made it into a thing that seemed detached from my own mind.

I want to do things of course, all the things my friends were doing. And I would try but then this little voice would start to whisper in my ear. Placing a little seed of doubt or note of caution. It would begin all so quietly and then build in volume and tempo. In next to no time it would be screaming and I would inevitably quake in terror.

This went on and on. And not just for the big things in life like learning to drive and going on holiday. It was the little things too. Things like going into the city centre shopping or meeting up with friends for a night out. Often the screams and the warnings were enough to send me cowering.

However when I tried to defy my anxiety and go on that night out say, it would really turn on me. It then would unleash the panic attacks and the vomiting. Highly effective tools which not only caused great discomfort but also massive embarrassment, especially if they happened in public. Which they did on numerous occasions.

Consequences

They were like warnings ‘Don’t try that again’ they would be saying. And more often than I would obey, having learnt my lesson. I feared the consequences, I was scared of having a panic attack or being sick, again. In this sense things just got worse and worse, the more scared I was the less of a life I lived.

I suppose this was what made me seek help. The anxiety just went too far. It got to a point where I just couldn’t do it any more. I wanted a life. I didn’t want to be constantly afraid of everything. 

Getting help

It seems strange to say but getting help was one of the things I was most scared of. It really terrified me, which explains why I put it off for just so long. Of course when I did make that momentous step my anxiety went into overdrive. It tried everything to put me off and I really struggled.

It made those weeks waiting to see a therapist particularly challenging. I was so lucky in that I was able to see someone relatively quickly compared to others.

I came very close to giving up and giving into the fears. However in one of only a scant few instances, I stood up to the anxiety and my fears and somehow held on until I received the help I needed. 

Just letting go and telling my family for the first time what was happening made a massive difference. Though they struggled to know what to do or say, the simple fact that I was no longer left alone to live with this thing gave me great comfort. And even more than that, it gave me hope.

The little child

Getting help was like turning a massive spotlight on the anxiety. It placed it under a scrutiny that it had never faced before. This scrutiny proved that all the threats it made, were in fact hollow and baseless.

This scrutiny took away all its power. Rather than being some monster or towering authority figure, I realised that it was a frightened little child. One who lacked the capacity of understanding to really know what was best for me or what the impact of its actions were. 

It was a part of me. One that had not developed properly. Had never grown up as the rest of me had. It was scared of the world in which it found itself and ultimately thought its actions were protecting me. 

Compassion is key

It took a long time for me to come to terms with this. Part of me wanted to fight and slay the monster I perceived my anxiety to be. I didn’t want it to be a part of me and for a while I could not believe it was, so alien and cruel, did it appear at times. But I could not, I had to accept it. See it for what it really was. And then come to terms with it by giving it the compassion and reassurance it was ultimately crying out for. 

It was only through these efforts was I able to quieten the warnings and the fear. Though it took great effort and persistence. Of those times when my frustration got the better of me and I became angry or resentful the anxiety resisted.

Thus I realised that any incidents of that nature did not help and only served to hold progress back. In the months and years to follow the fear was to diminish and I was finally able to live a life.

Acceptance

To many people suffering from a mental health condition, fear in one form or another is likely to be a familiar companion. It’s so easy to normalise its presence, to accept it as something everyday. It should not and does not have to be that way. It may not appear so all the time. But with both courage and compassion any obstacle can be overcome. 

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