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I no longer feel ashamed of my anxiety.

I haven’t ever written about this in a public forum before.

I have been anxious almost my whole life.  I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t anxious.  Sometimes it is totally debilitating, most days I can manage it.  In the past, I would fixate on worse-case scenarios, turning things over and over in my head, going around in destructive circles, making myself ill physically, and eventually this led to depression.  I had mild OCD as a child and anorexia as a teenager for about 8 years, and I think they were ways of trying to control what I could, to empower myself in an area of my life where the rest was out of my control.

To the outside world, my life seemed great – married, two lovely children, nice home, good job, but I would literally do what I had to do to make sure we were OK, house clean, food cooked, kids safe, and then I would go to bed and sleep – shut out the world.  That was my solace.  I never had any time off work and drew on every ounce of strength I had to present a professional and successful persona.

The guilt I feel for my poor family is still with me every single day, that they had to endure my anxiety and depression.  To the outside world, I was fine, happy, positive, fully functioning and successful at my job.  At home, I did my best to be OK, but I couldn’t hide my feelings and it must have been difficult to see me in tears a lot of the time.

It came to a head one day when it was my husband’s birthday and he wanted to go out for the day.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I just felt I couldn’t force myself to do it.  I sat on the bottom step of the staircase and just wept – and I didn’t know why I was crying.  I didn’t go, but luckily my then-teenage son stepped in and spent the day with him so he didn’t miss out entirely. My husband was totally understanding and kind, but it must have hurt him.

That was when I decided to get help.  I went to the doctor’s, and they prescribed anti-depressants (Citalopram).  I started taking the tablets and after a couple of weeks I felt a bit better.  I went into work and spoke to my manager and the team I worked with and told them how I was feeling.  They said I had hidden it well.  I expected them to judge me I guess, even though they were lovely people.  But they were so kind and shared their own experiences, one even sharing that they lost a relative who died by suicide.  For the first time ever, I felt normal.  I wasn’t struggling with anxiety every single moment of the day.  The medication really did help a lot.

I continued taking Citalopram for seven years and eventually weaned myself off them. 

I still have good and bad days, mostly good, and lockdown was particularly difficult as, like so many others, felt isolated and scared.

I would have no hesitation to reach for medical for help again if I needed it.  I have also looked at other ways to help myself – I have had therapy, counselling, EMDR, CBT, life-coaching, acupuncture, and all of these have contributed to helping me on my journey through life. 

I no longer feel ashamed of my anxiety.  I am not anxious, I feel anxious.  I don’t have to be perfect and to be honest, my best is enough.  If I could speak to my 16-year-old self, I would tell her that she is worthy and what she is feeling is normal for a lot of people.  I would also tell her that everything will work out, but don’t wait so long to ask for help.  The main thing I would want my 16-year-old self to understand is that you are enough the way you are.  And I am.

 

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UNVAELD Professional Help

We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.
We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.