Read about me
February 27, 2013 posted by littlewhitecottage

‘Dying inside…’ (A blog about anxiety)

chrisThis is a phrase used by a lady who commented on a blog I wrote about depression and anxiety. I wrote it a couple of years ago but occasionally I re-post it to let people know exactly what anxiety is like, how debilitating it can be and how it can make your behaviour seem bizarre at times. I wanted to write this response as people ask; How  are you now? Have you recovered? How did you do it if you have? So here’s my answer to all those questions…

I was born with anxiety but there are 2 parts to me. I can be very loud, sociable, confident and assertive and this is how lots of people view me but there is also a part of me that has nagging doubts that ordinary people I’m sure can just brush off and not let their thoughts get them down. Unfortunately I’m not one of those people as I brood over things, over think things and this leads to terrible anxieties about seemingly little things. I had a weekly psychologist session for just over a year and she introduced me to CBT which has helped me enormously as I can now think through situations and see all points of view rather than just my own panicked view. I use this thought process with my children ‘What else could happen?’ ‘How would that make you feel?’ ‘Would it be the end of the world?’ and I have to say they are getting to be very good ‘thinkers!’

There are, however, 2 really big things I’ve come to learn about myself and accept. The first is that I was born this way (a la Lady Ga Ga) the nervous part of me was hidden by the gung ho part of me until my parents separated. I was then left in an incredibly stressful situation for some years and having to deal with an aggressive, abusive and often drunk mother calling and making demands. I hated the sound of the phone, it terrified me and as a consequence I didn’t want to a answer it and I avoided it. I was left to face situations on my own when you would normally have a parent there to hold your hand, my father did try his best but as he’s quite a difficult character himself it wasn’t easy for both of us. I believe that had my parents not divorced I may have overcome the anxiety part of me but you can’t turn the clock back, live your life again and sometimes you have to accept this and move on or else you can get stuck in the past which isn’t healthy. Understanding where my anxiety came from has helped but it’s really turned my view around about myself. I accept that anxiety is a part of me just like the frizz in my hair and the height I grew too. There’s things I can do about my hair and height – hair products and heels – but at the end of the night when I come home I still have the frizzy hair and shortness of height after the high heels have one off. Anxiety is just like this. Learning to accept my anxiety or my personality or, if you want, how my brain works really helps. I can do things to help but I know it won’t ever change.

Once you’ve accepted yourself you stop with the ‘I could have, should have, would have’ thoughts that can fill your mind. I don’t feel I ‘should have’ now as I can think around the problem and say ‘I did the best I could with the time/facilities/money I had’. As long as that’s an honest statement (i.e. I really have tried!) then I can now accept it.

The second change I’ve made is to be honest about the things I can and can’t do. When a friend invited me to the cinema with some other of her friends I knew I wouldn’t go. I could never imagine myself walking into a pub to find people I hadn’t ever met before so it wasn’t going to happen yes, my friend could have arrived earlier than me and could’ve been sat there when I walked in but the anxiety doesn’t see the possibilities of the situation only the difficulties. I said to my friend that I get a bit anxious and could I pick her up and give her a lift there and back so we would walk in to the pub together. She thought this a great idea and that’s what we did. If I’d left it, cancelled at the last minute then I would have looked a bit strange and may not have been invited again therefore shooting a good friendship –and the possibility of other friendships – in the foot. I felt good about being honest like a weight was coming off my shoulders which meant I had a positive experience and was happy to do it again.

Hubbie has been amazing. He knows that one day I can appear to be a superwomen making phone calls, moving forward with my business and talking and chatting away to people about what I do but the next day could be a bad one where he has to make the phone call or open the letters and he’s learned to accept this. Having a partner who accepts you for who you are is just as important as you accepting yourself. If I say ‘can you just phone…?’ he asked ‘Are you having a bad day?’ and sometimes the answer is yes but sometimes the answer is ‘No, I just don’t have time!’ and we giggle together as it’s easy to forget that other people need help with the things I do for very simple reasons. We’ve both learned that not everything should be blamed on my anxiety…

We’ve moved away from the area where I was incredibly unhappy and despite not living near a very special friend there is nothing that I miss. A fresh start was good for me but I understand I was lucky enough to be able to do this and I know not everyone is.

I have things planned in the future that I know will terrify me the week before I have to do them but this is something that I have had to accept will happen. Not everything can be on the spur of the moment –which leaves less panicking time! – especially when you have 3 children with active social lives. Hubbie knows I will panic and will try his best to be supportive and he even makes jokes about the inevitable blazing row that we will have just before we’re supposed to leave as my nervousness about the coming situation takes over and I want to run away. We’ll sit in the car as we usually do and he’ll take my hand a give it a bit of a squeeze and smile in that half smile half smirk way that he does and I know it’ll be okay. Other things may go wrong like I’m totally underdressed (Christmas work do), we can be very late (friend’s wedding) but I know my anxiety is ruining less and less social situations and that’s a very positive thing.

I recognise the phrase ‘dying on the inside’ and for many years I was. I hid it very well (depression? You???  No!) apparently. But by accepting who I am, being honest with the people I know and having a supportive partner who wants to help as much as he can I’m finally starting to live again. So to the answer ‘Are you better?’ I think I spent too long trying to be perfect, trying to be ‘well’ and I wasted too much time fretting over not being the same as everyone else. I now know that for me being ‘better’ doesn’t mean I have no anxiety but that I have accepted it as being part of me and I have ways of dealing with it and because of that yes, I am better…

More from me about depression and anxiety…

4 Comments

  • I suffer with anxiety and recognise every point in this post. I am trying CBT at the minute so my anxiety has less of an impact on the kiddos and have this last year started being honest with people about how I feel.

    I’ve also found that being honest about why am unable to do something (a night out, spa day, spontaneous day out with friends) goes down much better than a hastily made up fib!!

    Good luck with your anxiety x

  • Thank you for reposting this. It makes so much sense on all counts. I live in hope I get somewhere soon. Keep that anxiety in its place!
    I learnt more about anxiety at the DAS group yesterday.

  • I am so glad I have had the opportunity to read this blog. It describes me completely.

    I have a great book that I read “Counselling for Toads” when I feel that the anxiety is taking over but also have CBT sessions, usually one, once a week for 6 weeks every 12 months or so as I often find there is a tendency to revert back to the old ways of thinking and feeling.

    I completely relate to friend and the pub, and I have learnt to be honest with people and not put myself in social situations that will make me freak out. I even managed a wedding reception on Saturday evening, something that i would usually agree too and then back out at the last minute. Perfection is the hardest thing I am having to deal with, I try to be the perfect Mother, Partner etc but end up beating myself up as I feel I am rubbish. I have to adjust but I am finding this to be the most challenging of all.

    Thank you once again xxx

  • Thank you so much for posting this when I first got anxiety I felt like I was the only person in the whole world who had it, but 2 years on and I’m really learning about it and sharing it really is one f the biggest helps!its very refreshing to read other people’s stories and it still suprises me when I’m reading through and feel like I’m reading myself. I’m such a negative person and I’m currently working through the ‘thrive’book, its amazing and I would definitely reccomend it to anyone who struggles. X

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