My post on anxiety  struck a chord with some of my readers, which is great. Many people told me that I described it really well, and many who knew me said that they had no idea that I suffered this. That is a good thing. It means that;

1. I am getting a handle on the beast that spins my wheels. The black dog of depression who walks along behind me is not the same dog that churns me up and leaves me sweaty, nauseated, and in pain. That is a like a hyena.  It worries at you, gnawing, chasing, laughing like a freaking maniac while I get all frantic and wild-eyed.

2. It shows that anybody can have it, that many of us are the more than 1 in 3 that will suffer from mental health issues.

3. It shows that you can have this disease and it does not have to cripple you. Sure, it wounds you and leaves you reeling, but it does not have command of you.
Most of the time.

4. It started some conversations, hopefully normalising this and other issues that people may have and not talk about.

I have had anxiety since I can remember, even as a child. The depression wasn’t present until later. It occurred as a result of events that occurred as a teen/ young adult.  The anxiety is probably genetic, with my Grandad, my dad and my sister all showing signs of it, and probably other family members as well. Master 7 shows signs of being a worrier, a serious lad as well, much as how I was described as a kid. I try not to get too anxious about that 🙂  I do try to offer him support, teach him coping mechanisms and opportunities to build resilience so that if he does develop clinical anxiety, that he already has some of the things that I have had to learn hardwired in him. I will watch Master 4 closely also.

Anxiety has always permeated my life.

I miss out on doing things, because of the anxiety of trying something new. Not all the time, I am sometimes fairly adventurous and robust, but with specific triggers, I can run screaming from something as benign as a coffee with people, due to a fear of the event. From how do I get there (remember that I get geographically embarrassed? )  through to what if I cannot talk, or cannot eat what is served there, or what if there is no EFTPOS, I only  have a EFT card…..

I am sure I have sabotaged relationships, over thinking, over analysing, being overly concerned with how the other is thinking, feeling, a delayed text reply can result in horrors;

‘they must be horrified at my behaviour’, (I dunno what behaviour they might be horrified at, but it is a logical assumption….?)

‘how rude did I seem?’,

‘did they understand what I meant when I said XYZ? That I did not mean to offend?’

…….. So, in fear of coming across as intense and needy, I tend to be aloof and guarded. Just a little. Like,  funny, and loud and so on, but with very little real content being allowed out. I tend not to ASK  of my friends for fear of the anxiety if they do not respond as kindly as I need or hope for.  By not needing people I also remove some of the worry about control and what if they let me down or become unreliable.  But people like to feel needed and they can get disgruntled when you do not give them opportunities to give. So I  practice text-book opportunities to allow my friends to give, never being entirely sure if I am doing it right, if I am asking too much and you might resent me or asking to little and you might thinking I don’t trust you.  I won’t trust that you are entirely sincere when you are generous with me and won’t trust that it really is not an inconvenience for you.

There are few people whom I am truly relaxed around, and those people see a slightly less intense social side of me. Most people would describe me as confident, loud and chatty, I believe. This is a front. I am an introvert.  I can ‘turn it on’ for a period of time, then I need some hours after that social excursion to recharge. In an unfamiliar situation, I have perfected the art of subterfuge, so I can bring the ‘show’, even when I am not feeling it. The result – you see the show I put on, not the true terror or insecurities I really feel. 

The problem with this is most of my friends would have NO IDEA just how freaked out I am in some situations. Indeed I have been in the kitchen of one of my best friends and one simple action she did created a maelstrom for me. i was swept into a paralysing attack, and felt like I barely got out alive. I was positive I was going to die and die right there in the middle of a bloody Tupperware party.

Eventually I pulled myself out of the quick sand and soldiered on. Not one person who was there was any the wiser as to the turmoil I was in, the pain, the feeling of wretchedness. They still aren’t.

It all comes from needing a feeling of control, and the greatest thing I have had to realise and continuously remind myself of is;

The only thing that I can control is myself.  

I cannot control what any of you think, or how you behave, or even how you interpret what I say or do. I cannot control whether you like me, whether you hate me, whether you are rude when I am polite, whether you read my blogs and roll your eyes in contempt or whether you point it out to your friends and take the piss out of me.

Realising that I cannot control these things and indeed, that the ONLY thing I control is me is…………………freeing.

Your behaviour is your problem, not mine. MY behaviour is my problem, and once I own that notion, well, I let go of some of the anxiety that surrounds me. It takes conscious thought, practice and true honesty, but that one notion allows me to be less burdened.

And that is the one thing I would love, is to be unburdened from this load.

Other than practicing conscious thought and behavioural techniques, I am not convinced I will ever be free of it. And really the depression is so much more devastating when it bites me that I will live with the anxiety and beat it off with a stick when needs be, but always keep one eye on the black dog.
But, if by passing on this one notion, I help someone, or if someone reads this and realises that they aren’t alone then the anxiety that I feel by writing this and putting it out in public is worth it.